Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Are the children still watching?

It is appalling to see the degree to which the national Democratic leadership has been cowed by Republican control of Congress. Sen. Russ Feingold’s proposal for a censure vote, premature or not, is a gutsy move by a maverick, but one that spotlights the Democrats' lack of coordination. It has sent Congressional Democrats running for cover.

And why? Whatever Democrats do, the GOP will spin it into a smear – once again. They are skilled at it. Democrats will come up bloody whatever they do. That itself is not necessarily a negative. They might as well take the beating and in the process show voters that they are ready to fight for something they believe in, win or lose.

Why did people cheer for Rocky Balboa? They cheered for the little guy with the heart to take on a big shot and fight the good fight.

Liberal blogs yesterday were filled with a mixture of determination and resignation. And those quick to abandon the stodgy Democrat leadership as useless simply reinforce what the country sees: Democrats cannot get their act together.

That’s where young blood comes in. Howard Dean tapped it once, and those folks are still active today, although frustrated with the slow pace of change. Democrats need to show some heart; they just need help rediscovering it. It's coming.

The country wants leaders that show some heart and soul, not empty posturing.

All the talk of censure reminded me of the passionate, handwringing justifications for impeachment our stalwart, rule-of-law Republican brethren presented in 1998 (December 18-19). Empty posturing and rank partisanship, or true conviction? In light of the Senate Intelligence Committee vote not to investigate domestic spying in violation of FISA, you decide.


The man in question clings to the trappings of his powerful office, and cloaks himself in its symbols and icons, but adheres to none of the principles of the men who served in it before him.

The question before us today is whether we, too, will turn away from our long heritage of the rule of law, the love of truth, and instead place our faith in the brutal role of power, the fickle winds of appetite and the manipulation of public opinion.

Mr. WATTS of Oklahoma.
Ask the children. The kid who lies does not last and they do not bicker over what is and what is not a lie. They know. So do I. So do the American people.

Time and again, we wanted the essence of truth and we got the edges of the truth. We hear, `Let's get on with the business of our country.' What business is more important than teaching our children right from wrong?

Americans all across the country every day, we all try very hard to live by the rules, principles and proverbs and we teach them to our children. What are they? It is called honesty: You tell the truth, be sincere, do not deceive, mislead or be devious or use trickery. Do not withhold information in relationships of trust. Do not cheat or lie to the detriment of others nor tolerate such practice. You honor your oath. Be loyal. Support and protect your family, your friends, your community and your country. Do not violate the law and ethical principles to win personal gain. Do not ask a friend to do something wrong. Judge all people on their merits. Do not abuse or demean people. Do not use, manipulate, exploit or take advantage of others for personal gain. Be responsible and accountable, think before you act, consider the consequences on all people by your actions.

Mr. SAM JOHNSON of Texas
The President has diminished his office in the eyes of the Nation, and more dangerously, in the eyes of the world.

The President is the chief law enforcement official of this country. If you lose respect for him, you lose respect for the law.

I would just say, again, to the American people, that this is not a choice about doing what is easy. This is a choice between what is right and what is wrong under our Constitution and the rule of law.

Let's be clear: the President lied to us. He pointed his finger at us, looked us in the eye and lied to us, over and over again.

We must make a stand and say--we are a nation of laws and no one is above the law.

Ignoring this president's lies and deceit would set a terrible precedent for the future -- for future presidents, for future people who testify in courts throughout this country, and to our nation's children. And I hear over and over again, we've got to do it for the children. And unfortunately, I believe for the children of this nation, this president has to be impeached.

How are we to answer our children when they ask us `If the President can lie and get away with it, why can't I?'

Mr. Speaker, most Americans are repelled by the President's actions. The toughest questions I have had to answer have come from parents who agonize over how to explain the President's behavior to their children. Every parent tries to teach their children the difference between right and wrong, to always tell the truth and, when they make mistakes, to take responsibility and face the consequences of their actions.

Mr. Speaker, just before the November 3 election my 5-year-old grandson, Jake, asked his mother if we were going to be electing a new President, and upon being told, no, we already have a President, Jake replied: No, we do not; he lied.

As my colleagues know, such principle from the mouths of babes. As sad as this is for our Nation, this action is necessary so that all of us can continue to not only uphold but teach those basic truths and basic right and wrong in our houses and, most assuredly, in this House.

Yes, to err is human, but to lie and deny and vilify; rather than that we need to confess and repair and repent.

Just remember, the children are watching.

I ask every Member of the House to consider the question I posed to my colleagues on the Committee on the Judiciary last week: What message are we sending to the youth of America if we abdicate our constitutional duty and condone perjury, obstruction of justice and abuse of power by the President of the United States?

I have two children at home, a daughter and a son. With the help of their teachers and their church, my wife and I have tried to teach them about honesty and integrity. We have tried to instill in them a belief that character does indeed matter. We have taught them to obey the law.

Mr. Speaker, my colleagues of the People's House, I wish to talk about the rule of law. …

Let us look back to Bunker Hill, to Concord and Lexington. Let us look across the river to Arlington Cemetery, where American heroes who gave their lives for the sake of the rule of law lie buried, and let us not betray their memory. Let us look to the future, to the children of today who are the presidents and members of Congress of the next century, and let us not crush their hope that they too will inherit a law-governed society.

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