I Better Switch To Tea

Estrich and Taylor Jr.

I Better Switch To Tea

Estrich and Taylor Jr.

I Better Switch To Tea
An email conversation about the news of the day.
Sept. 28 1998 5:27 PM

Estrich and Taylor Jr.

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Dear Stuart:

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You are eloquent as always, and it leaves me so deeply saddened. That you and I should be disagreeing over this and not fighting together for something--that this is what our country is doing, with the relief provided by the drug-induced Mr. McGwire (how do you explain that one to your kids?)--leaves me feeling impoverished by the state of our politics.

The President lied. He is still trying to avoid saying he did so in ways that would imply that he is guilty of any felonies. Cue Ball Carville or whatever he calls himself is back with his act, while Dick Morris holds forth on Drudge. It promises to go on and on. I hate it.

This is not a fight I would choose, not one I want, not one I think will produce any winners. But on the question of impeachment, which this has unbelievably risen to, I think Starr's report does not support it. You're right that he lied, and that he has lied before; but it is also the case that many men lie about sexual relationships, and that we have known about this flaw in this man since we elected him. We elected him anyway, and the results of that election should not be overturned by a prosecutor pursuing an investigation that most prosecutors would have deemed at the start to be going nowhere that they would go, in other words, not to be leading to a prosecutable offense. Starr's report is the case at its worst, and it's not a case for impeachment. That is a judgment the country should make; it is a poll sensitive judgment precisely because the founders entrusted it to the House, and then the Senate, not the Courts. Even the Chief Justice who sits in the Senate presides, but doesn't rule. As for the facts, which I've had plenty of, they turn out to be, in some respects, better for the President than I thought; which is to say, her behavior is even worse. Young feminists who were the champions of sexual power are now cringing at what it looks like in practice; if this is how you sleep your way to the top, maybe we should go back to trying to earn it. But we're not going to change anybody's mind on this, which I think is the significance of the polls.

Jesse Jackson. What can I say? What is the state of black leadership in America today?

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Last month, Mayor Willie Brown compared Justice Clarence Thomas to the Ku Klux Klan in calling for black groups to shun him as a speaker. In a speech to an organization of black sociologists, Brown said that the group would never invite a Klan leader, and that Thomas' views represented "legitimizing of the Ku Klux Klan." Brown said Justice Thomas "must not be allowed any comfort from any of us.... He should be reduced to talking to only white conservatives." Brown's criticism followed the controversy at the National Bar Association, where Judge Higginbotham led the protest arguing that Thomas should not have been invited...I asked my research assistant to see if she could find any black leaders, or liberals, who had criticized Brown? Guess what?

So what next? Does Gore watch the World Series with Jackson?

My kids go to an amazing diverse private school in Los Angeles, which is full of successful blacks. Every day at drop off, I see more successful blacks than many white professionals do in a month. But here's the thing I always notice. None of them are in politics. They're in sports, business, law, entertainment, medicine, etc.

But they're not in politics. Who would want to be? Some of them, I have no doubt, have been guilty of adultery, and would lie about it, even, if asked, which they certainly would be.

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What about all the other issues under the sun? Will you never support a Democrat, who stood by Clinton, even if you agree with him on more of those issues than anyone else? Have you become a single-issue voter, then?

I'm asked all the time whether I'd be defending President Gingrich if he did the same thing. Of course, I wouldn't. Laura Ingraham would. But I wouldn't be out there calling for his impeachment, and you and I know that if feminists were, they'd be ridiculed for it and accused of turning sex into a capital crime. I think the reason there is so much politics in this one is because there's so much room for it....

On to the German elections.... How much time do you think cable news will spend on that, and how much on the Big Him?

As they say in Hollywood on Monday, see you at Mortons.

Best,

Susan

Susan Estrich is a law professor at the University of Southern California. Stuart Taylor Jr. is senior writer at National Journal and contributing editor at Newsweek.