People warn that a Senate impeachment trial will effectively shut down the government, involving as it would the Supreme Court and tying up the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body for weeks or months. But the right has already shut the government down twice and nobody could tell the difference. Can we be bumping along straddling the backs of the radical right to Anarchists’ Heaven where government no longer exists? Those government-hating nuts up in Montana may have the last word after all.

There’s one thing the whole spectacle has accomplished–outrage is in again. We haven’t had outrage in so long one almost forgot it could exist anymore. The fact that 20 percent of American children live below the poverty line put us to sleep; right-to-life violence that has closed one abortion clinic after another made our eyes glaze over; revelations of US complicity in installing Pinochet and the CIA’s supporting his murderers have sunk us even deeper into dreamland–the total absence of outrage at these matters is now remedied. We must all tear at our collars and get red in the face at the spectacle of an American President refusing to confess that he touched it.

In England, I am told, he would have been out of office in forty-eight hours. But the English, needless to say, are hardly the most mature thinkers when it comes to fiddling. The French, on the other hand…

What’s the use, you ask? People blame our Puritan tradition, but a scholarly study some years back showed that most children in the early New England colonies were born out of wedlock. It seems that available land was extremely limited, the hostile Indians being so close by, and a landless suitor could not support a wife. So girls will be girls and boys likewise, and so on. The Puritan tradition, in brief, is sex. The Congressional tradition, on the other hand, is to exalt what never was when it comes to morals, including their own. After all, can there be not one among the half-thousand members of both houses who has never lied about sex? Can we expect a confession from that one fellow, or lady perhaps, before he or she votes to destroy Bill Clinton forever? Don’t hold your breath.