Bad Sex in the City
In the return whiff of scandal around Rudy and Judi the hoary details of their crass courtship are said to be of no consequence. Let's not get into his private life, commentators quickly warned, eager to steer political discussion clear of anything that might actually rub up against the realities of life experienced by the common horde. Let's talk about the issues, the "new" ones here being hardly newer than what any New Yorker had long known: that the NYPD accompanied the pair on their trysts; that (hark!) these police escorts were paid for from the public purse and involved some finagled accounting.
The parched details and dollar amounts reported lately in The Politico are nowhere nearly as telling as the rough picture of things sketched in Newsday by Jimmy Breslin back in 2000, when he wrote about a cop nicknamed Wrong Way because once while pulling into Gracie Mansion with Judi in the back seat he almost collided with the cop pulling out of the mansion with Donna. Wrong Way was later part of a five-car police detail assembled simply to get the king and his court to the ball game: one car for Rudy, one for Judi, one for Andrew, one for Donna and one for the Other Girl he's said to have kept on the side, the two girlfriends given separate corporate seats at Yankee Stadium.
The only evocative tidbits among the latest revelations are news that someone from the NYPD walked Judi's dog and accompanied her on a shopping trip when she selected her sapphire-and-diamond engagement ring--in Atlanta. At least the cops didn't torture or kill the dog, a practice that in an earlier life was part of young Judi's job as a saleswoman for US Surgical. That would have twinned Giuliani's personal and political deficits, probably irreparably.
In the main, the huff and puff over "taxpayer expense" is not likely to blow down much to obstruct Giuliani's presidential campaign. Once we collectively concede that a maximum leader requires maximum protection, and so too his loved ones--either for the sake of his happiness or as a hedge against ransom threats--then there's really not much difference between the wife, the kids, the dog, the girlfriend. The reporters at The Politico didn't sift through those FOIA documents out of a passion for fiscal probity. Sex is the story that sells here, so why not talk about sex?
Granted, it was more fun--the last time adultery and presidential ambitions coincided so publicly--to imagine Governor Clinton bound to a bedstead with silken ties, maddened by the big-haired blonde with her animal prints and scented light bulbs, a woman who claimed he was never so happy as when he could bury his face in her muff, than it is to contemplate Mayor Giuliani panting over his soon-to-be-new-missus, the "princess," according to Vanity Fair, who's always longed to be "a queen." To toss around the subject of adultery and politics now is to raise that specter of Saturday Night Bill and of the other big-haired girl, the frisky Monica, with her kneepads and cigar tricks and oral-anal games in the Oval Office. And no one much wants to do that: not partisans of Hillary Clinton; not her opponents, who may have to support her come November or ask for the Clintons' support; not conservatives, who may find themselves having to back their own philanderer down the road.
Already, this is a repression election. Rumors are afloat that Rudy needs a short leash, his eyes wandering toward a former rhythmic twirler with eclectic tastes, a fan of The Lonely Crowd, The Indispensable Chomsky and Leadership, by Rudolph Giuliani. Democratic bloggers bleat pathetically, "At least he [Bill] stayed married." Although it's Hillary's great asset, she sometimes wears marriage like a cross. Rudy is said to be similarly chafing now that Judith is his wedded wife.
Christians take heart in Mike Huckabee and, maybe, the knowledge that if Giuliani does turn out to be the chosen one, his sins won't matter anyway. David got away with Bathsheba, after all, and with dispatching her husband, Uriah the Hittite, to the enemy's spears. The rest of us can take heart that at least Rudy doesn't hold the power of life and death over anyone. Bill executed a man as the Gennifer Flowers story swirled in 1992. He bombed Iraq as the Senate considered removing him from office over Monica Lewinsky. Nothing beats death for distraction.
The trouble, in fact, is in treating sex as a distraction. Usually it isn't. Usually it's just life, like the mortgage and the bad school and the checkbook that's balanced or not, the dinner that's sublime or not. Adultery may thrillingly divert from one reality, but in the form practiced by Bill and Rudy and millions of others it tends to create its own parallel universe, with its own set of mores and unwritten rules. Rudy broke them all.
One doesn't bring the paramour to the marriage bed (unless it's a threesome), or involve the children, or deliberately humiliate the spouse. Bohemians, hippies, gay people, adventurers in polyamory have all experimented with different levels of truth-telling and have all decided, at one time or another, when a lie or reticence is the kindest act of all. But they've also understood, at some deep level, why the English called adultery a "criminal conversation": the criminal part could be jettisoned, as it was by English law in the nineteenth century. But the conversation, measured physically, emotionally, intellectually, could not. Only a madman or a monk would count it a moral failure to converse with more than one person for a lifetime, yet most Americans call adultery just that, even when they're engaged in it. And most married people probably are involved in it, or have been.
Poll numbers are as schizoid as the culture, with overwhelming majorities telling surveyors they "know someone" who's not monogamous while only a minority own up to their own sampling of delights afield. A politics that's similarly evasive--that counts as irrelevant the ways people arrange their lives, their joys, needs and sorrows; that cares nothing for how and why they converse--is no politics at all. It doesn't matter that Rudy had sex with Judi or anyone else, or that he had that police escort, frankly. What matters is that Rudy was a prick. Rudy made it cruel.
By David Swanson
House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers has said that if three more Congress Members get behind impeachment he will start the impeachment proceedings.
I was a guest today on Bree Walker's radio show. She's the progressive radio host from California who purchased Cindy Sheehan's land from her in Crawford, Texas.
Bree attended an event on Friday in San Diego at which Congressman Conyers spoke about impeachment. Her report was extremely interesting. I had already heard reports that Conyers had said: "What are we waiting for? Let's take these two guys out!" But, of course, what we're waiting for is John Conyers. Is he ready to act? It was hard to tell from that comment. In January, Conyers spoke at a huge rally on the National Mall and declared "We can fire them!" but later explained that what he meant was that we could wait for two years and Bush and Cheney's terms would end. Was this week's remark just more empty rhetoric?
It appears to be more than that. Bree Walker told me, on the air, that Conyers said that all he needs is three more Congress Members backing impeachment, and he'll move on it, even without Pelosi. I asked whether that meant specifically moving from 14 cosponsors of H Res 333 to 17, or adding 3 to the larger number of Congress Members who have spoken favorably of impeachment but not all signed onto bills. Bree said she didn't know and that Conyers had declined to take any questions.
Either way, this target of three more members seems perfectly doable. It's safe to assume, I think, that we're talking about impeaching Cheney first. But, even if Conyers is talking about Bush, the target is perfectly achievable.
First, there are Congress Members like Jesse Jackson Jr. who have spoken out for impeachment but not signed onto H Res 333. They should be urged to act now! Second, there are dozens of members who signed onto H Res 635 a year and a half ago, Conyers' bill for an investigation into grounds for impeachment, who have not signed onto H Res 333 yet. Third, one of the excuses citizens often hear from lots of Congress Members for not signing onto articles of impeachment is that not enough of their colleagues have signed on and therefore "we don't have the votes." Well that just changed. Now three more votes is all that's needed to get this machine rolling. Fourth, many of the 14 Congress Members backing H Res 333 have used similar excuses to justify refraining from lobbying their colleagues to join them. That can now end. Our 14 leaders can do more than just put down their names.
Now, if Conyers begins impeachment proceedings in the House Judiciary Committee, we should all be clear on what that will mean. If it is serious, it will not mean sending any subpoenas or contempt citations to the emperors' court. Bush and Cheney have already repeatedly refused to comply with subpoenas.
President Richard Nixon did the same, of course, and his refusal to comply with subpoenas constituted the offense cited in one of the three Articles of Impeachment approved by the House Judiciary Committee on July 27, 1974 as warranting "impeachment and trial, and removal from office." But Bush and Cheney have gone further, ordering former staffers not to comply with subpoenas, and announcing that the Justice Department will not enforce any contempt of Congress proceedings.
What the impeachment of Cheney or Bush will be is very, very fast. It will not disrupt or distract from the important business of passing nonbinding resolutions and holding all-night gripe sessions over bills destined to be vetoed. Impeachment in the case of Dick Cheney need not take the three months it did for Nixon or the two months it did for President Bill Clinton. In fact, it could take a day. Here's why:
Bush and Cheney's lies about Iraqi ties to al Qaeda are on videotape and in writing, and Bush and Cheney continue to make them to this day. There was no al Qaeda in Iraq until the invasion.
Their claims about Iraqi weapons have been shown in every detail to have been, not mistakes, but lies.
Their threats to Iran are on videotape.
Bush being warned about Katrina and claiming he was not are on videotape.
Bush lying about illegal spying and later confessing to it are on videotape. A federal court has ruled that spying to be a felony.
The Supreme Court has ruled Bush and Cheney's system of detentions unconstitutional.
Torture, openly advocated for by Bush and Cheney and their staffs, is documented by victims, witnesses, and public photographs. Torture was always illegal and has been repeatedly recriminalized under Bush and Cheney. Bush has reversed laws with signing statements.
Those statements are posted on the White House website, and a GAO report found that with 30 percent of Bush's signing statements in which he announces his right to break laws, he has in fact proceeded to break those laws.
For these and many other offenses, no investigation is needed because no better evidence is even conceivable. This impeachment will be swift. And it will require only a simple majority. We already know that the Democrats can vote as a block if they want to, and that a few brave Republicans might join them.
Whether the Senate will then convict Cheney will depend on how much pressure citizens apply and how much information the House manages to force onto television sets. The latter could be surprisingly large and substantive, since the conflict of an impeachment is certain to generate incredible ratings.
But even an acquittal would identify the Senators to be removed from office by voters in 2008. And Cheney (or Bush) would still have been 100% impeached. Al Gore didn't run for president pretending he'd never met Bill Clinton and pick Senator Joe Lieberman as a running mate because the Senate convicted Clinton (it acquitted).
The timing of Conyers' remark may be related to the steps the White House has recently taken to assert "unitary executive" dictatorial power. Bush has commuted the sentence of a subordinate who obstructed an investigation into matters involving Bush and Cheney. And, as mentioned above, neither subpoenas nor contempt citations will go anywhere. Impeachment is no longer merely the appropriate step that it has been for the past six years. It is now the only tool left to the Congress for use in asserting its very existence as a functioning body of government.
But the timing is also quite helpful to the grassroots movement for impeachment, and rather symbolic. Five years ago this Monday, the meeting was held at #10 Downing Street that produced the Downing Street Minutes. Over two years ago, then Ranking Member Conyers held a hearing in the basement of the Capitol, the only space the Republican leadership would allow him. At that hearing, several Democratic Congress Members for the first time began talking about impeachment. The witnesses at the hearing were Ambassador Joseph Wilson, attorney John Bonifaz, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, and a then unknown gold star mother named Cindy Sheehan. They discussed the evidence of the Downing Street documents, which added significantly to the growing body of evidence that Bush and Cheney misled the Congress about the case for war.
This Monday, Sheehan and McGovern and a great many leaders of the movements for peace and impeachment will lead a march at 10 a.m. at Arlington National Cemetery. We will march to Congressman Conyers office and ask to talk with him about impeachment. We will refuse to leave without either a commitment to begin at once the impeachment of Cheney or Bush or both, or our arms in handcuffs. The same day, groups in several states around the country will be sitting in and risking arrest for impeachment in the district offices of their congress members.
Not everyone will be able to take part. But everyone can take two minutes on Monday and do two things: phone Chairman Conyers at 202-225-5126 and ask him to start the impeachment of dick Cheney; and phone your own Congress Member at 202-224-3121 and ask them to immediately call Conyers' office to express their support for impeachment. Your Congress Member might just be one of the three needed, not just to keep us out of jail but to keep this nation from devolving into dictatorship.