Staff Columnist

Chuck Grassley was right in 1999

U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Ut., left, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, speaks during a news conference with U.S
U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Ut., left, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, speaks during a news conference with U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Monday afternoon, Aug. 17, 1998, in Des Moines. In speaking about President Clinton's testimony Monday before a grand jury, Hatch said that he thought that Congress must do what's in the best interest of the American people, which could include impeachment. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley once stated, of impeachment, “Some say that this impeachment effort is part of a right wing conspiracy. A Republican plot to get a Democrat president. We are here because the president did wrongful acts, and he admits that. We are here because of the independent counsel law. No, this president is in this predicament because of his own wrongdoing. There is no conspiracy.”

He also noted, “The president’s actions are having a profound impact, of course, upon our society. His misdeeds have caused many to mistrust elected officials. Cynicism is swelling among the grassroots. His breach of trust has eroded the public’s faith in the office of the presidency. The president’s wrongdoing has painted all of us in Washington with a very broad brush.”

Grassley’s words seem made for 2019, but instead, they were spoken in February of 1999.

But in all the political commentary and rancor throughout our American history, we still have yet to learn that the right thing isn’t always the popular or the politically expedient thing.

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The impeachment issue at hand was with President Bill Clinton and whether he had lied under oath and obstructed, when he said the now infamous, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

Grassley’s words are strangely prescient as America moves forward with impeachment. But his stance has changed, of course.

What was once a fair process is now a partisan hunt. What was once a stand for the constitution is now political hackery. The fickle opinions of politicians are legendary and not just reserved for our own senator, whose eager parroting of the party line is almost as embarrassing as his occasional tweet that looks like they were written by a raccoon having a stroke.

Nancy Pelosi has also flipped flopped on impeachment. What was bad for Clinton is good for Trump. It’s so very predictable.

As a teen, the Starr Report was the first thing I downloaded from the internet after the entire script to Evita. In defiance to my parents, I was strongly against impeachment. I thought it was unfair and whatever consenting adults did in their spare time was not an issue. My parents thought the entire moral core of America was crumbling.

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Right after the 2016 election, I revisited everything I thought I knew about the Clinton impeachment and was horrified at the abuses and justifications. I read books, listened to podcasts and read commentary. By then I was in my 30s and had experienced so many of the abuses of power that make being a woman such a dangerous enterprise.

Those impeachment proceedings, although fraught, complicated and full of Puritan moralizing and partisan hackery—they should have happened. What the president did was wrong.

Now, here we are again. The historical whiplash has permanently twisted our politicians spines out of alignment.

Senators tell us Iowans don’t care. Polls tell us everyone is sick of the talk of Ukraine and quid pro quo. Polls also show no one has changed their minds.

I’m tired of it all too. CNN runs the hearings in our office every day. I read impeachment recaps and hear it discussed on the radio. Every time I turn on the news, a hazard of my job, another priviledged white man is yelling about how unfair this all is. And they are never talking about the children dying on the border. I guess, in some ways, the Republicans are right, I, an Iowan, also care about a lot of other issues. I want the Senate to pass the violence against women act. We need affordable health care and child care.

But that doesn’t change what the truth is, there is corruption in the White House. The president admitted to it. The evidence is there.

We are in a moment in history, when it’s hard to see through the thousands of stories and opinions and conspiracies and spin. But in all the political commentary and rancor throughout our American history, we still have yet to learn that the right thing isn’t always the popular or the politically expedient thing. To believe that we can only vote for impeachment if it’s popular or politically expedient is to concede to the cynicism grown at our grassroots that Grassley warned us against in 1999.

lyz.lenz@thegazette.com; 319-368-8513

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