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 TIME on politics Congressional Quarterly CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and Congressional Quarterly

Analysis: Senate vote shows a contempt for public

By Craig Staats/AllPolitics

January 26, 1999
Web posted at: 7:38 p.m. EDT (1938 GMT)

WASHINGTON (January 26) -- Fifty-seven senators don't think you have a right to hear them debate whether to dismiss the charges against President Bill Clinton.

They voted Monday to say they like their 19th-century rules and cannot be bothered to do the public's business under the oh-so-uncomfortable gaze of the public.

At each step along the way during this unseemly scandal, Americans have had every right to be disappointed -- in Clinton's energetic public lies, in Linda Tripp's definition of friendship, in the graphic detail in Ken Starr's referral to Congress and in the wild, scorched-earth partisanship in the House of Representatives.

People might have hoped for better from the Senate, but now we know that was a mistake, because a majority of its members have voted in a way that shows an utter contempt for the public.

From the smallest city government to the so-called "greatest deliberative body in the world," the first impulse of elected officials always seems the same: Let's work this out in private.

Senators who defend their secret deliberations say they get more done behind closed doors, without members' inevitable posturing.

But that's a feeble "protect-us-from-ourselves" argument and a horrible confession, too. Senators are admitting they are incapable of speaking honestly and to the point in public, and can only do so in secret. You should remember that when they emerge from behind closed doors and run to the microphones.

No one forced these senators to run for public office. If they don't want to work in the public arena, under the public eye, they should find another job.

Here are the 57 people who voted for secrecy on Monday and who deserve a chance to work in the private sector where they obviously feel more comfortable. With luck, they will get the chance the next time they stand for re-election:

Spencer Abraham (R-Michigan)
Wayne Allard (R-Colorado)
John Ashcroft (R-Missouri)

Max Baucus (D-Montana)
Robert Bennett (R-Utah)
Christopher Bond (R-Missouri)

Sam Brownback (R-Kansas)
Jim Bunning (R-Kentucky)
Conrad Burns (R-Montana)

Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia)
Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colorado)
John Chafee (R-Rhode Island)

Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi)
Paul Coverdell (R-Georgia)
Larry Craig (R-Idaho)

Michael Crapo (R-Idaho)
Michael DeWine (R-Ohio)
Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico)

Michael Enzi (R-Wyoming)
Peter Fitzgerald (R-Illinois)
Bill Frist (R-Tennessee)

Slade Gorton (R-Washington)
Phil Gramm (R-Texas)
Rod Grams (R-Minnesota)

Charles Grassley (R-Iowa)
Judd Gregg (R-New Hampshire)
Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska)

Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)
Jesse Helms (R-North Carolina)
Tim Hutchinson (R-Arkansas)

James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma)
Jim Jeffords (R-Vermont)
Jon Kyl (R-Arizona)

Blanche Lambert Lincoln (D-Arkansas)
Trent Lott (R-Mississippi)
Richard Lugar (R-Indiana)

Connie Mack (R-Florida)
John McCain (R-Arizona)
Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky)

Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska)
Don Nickles (R-Oklahoma)
Pat Roberts (R-Kansas)

John D. Rockefeller (D-West Virginia)
William Roth (R-Delaware)
Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania)

Paul Sarbanes (D-Maryland)
Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama)
Richard Shelby (R-Alabama)

Robert Smith (R-New Hampshire)
Gordon Smith (R-Oregon)
Olympia Snowe (R-Maine)

Ted Stevens (R-Alaska)
Craig Thomas (R-Wyoming)
Fred Thompson (R-Tennessee)

Strom Thurmond (R-South Carolina)
George Voinovich (R-Ohio)
John Warner (R-Virginia)

Investigating the President


Tuesday, January 26, 1999

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