Beast of the Month - December 1998
Congressman Henry Hyde, Two-Faced GOP Leader
John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) of The Sex Pistols, "Anarchy in the UK"
Congressman Henry Hyde, during the Iran-Contra hearings
So different and yet so the same.
(Picture from Salon Magazine)
Until this last election, no party holding the White House has gained seats in a midterm election since 1934, with an average loss of 27 seats. That stat doesn't explain just how unlikely the event is, as 1934 came on the heels of the extremely popular New Deal program of FDR. Further, not since 1822 (176 years for those counting) has the party in the White House picked up seats in the middle of the second term of a President. With that kind of precedent alone, a Republican smash should have been expected, but compound that with the fact that the Democrats are lead by an already mistrusted character who, rather than offering a New Deal, had admitted less than three months before the election that he received a blowjob in the Oval Office with a college age intern and then lied about it under oath (well, actually he didn't owe up to lying, which makes it even worse) and it is clear that the GOP should have crushed the Democrats badly.
And yet, they didn't.
Granted, there has been some hype over the results of this election: despite the minor losses of seats in the House of Representatives and the wash in the Senate, the GOP still controls both houses of Congress, as well as over 60 percent of all state governorships. But aside from the perhaps disturbing victory of two of George Bush's sons in Texas and Florida for the respective governor's race, 1998 was an embarrassing year for the Republicans. Among the more notable results:
* In Washington State, Incumbent Patty Murray beat U.S. Rep. Linda Smith, a Christian right conservative, and her group of devoted supporters known as "Linda's Army".
* In California, limousine-liberal Barbara Boxer staged a come-from-behind win against challenger Matt Fong.
* Also in California, Loretta Sanchez whipped Robert "B-1 Bob" Dornan in Orange County (who still insists he's a victim of a "conspiracy" of liberals and Hispanics to get him out of office through vote fraud) in their rematch, a loss that will hopefully end his loud-mouthed, buffoonish political career.
* In New York, in what may have been the ultimate "Stalin vs. Hitler" choice of the year, the ethically dubious Senator Pothole Al D'Amato lost decisively to Charles Schumer, who is most noted for his vicious attack on the victims of the Waco massacre.
* In North Carolina, Lauch Faircloth (whose chum, David Sentelle, appointed Kenneth Starr and helped create the whole Peckergate scandal) was upended by challenger John Edwards.
* Finally, again in California and perhaps most important of all, Gray Davis (a "New Democrat" of the Klinton mode sans the charisma) whipped the oily and frighteningly reactionary California Attorney General Dan Lungren by 20 points, in what was labeled by George Will as "the big prize." giving California a Democrat governor for the first time in sixteen years, back when a man named Jerry Brown was dating Linda Rondstadt.
Needless to say, the results were devastating. About the only thing that could've made things worse would be if the GOP had been foolish enough to run Dr. Death's lawyer in a race (whoops, that actually was the Democrats, in one of their few more notable defeats.) But it was bad enough that Newt Gingrich felt compelled to resign, proving that the only sin punishable in politics isn't lying or adultery, but failure.
All of this brings up a good question: what the hell happened?
The answer to this can certainly be debated, but one answer that seems likely comes from none other than Michael Moore, the award-winning documentary film director of Roger & Me, The Big One, and the t.v. show TV Nation. On October 8, in what amounts to the second most famous email of the year (after Matt Drudge's scoop on the Lewinsky affair), Michael Moore urged people to vote a straight Democratic ticket in November, in part to take over the party, and in part as a repudiation of what he felt were blatantly sleazy tactics by the GOP. His strategy can be questioned, but it is clear that his message resonated with many: whatever faults Slick Willie may have (and they are many), he still was elected to the White House by the American public, and the Republican's gleeful attempt to overturn the election amounted to an attack on democracy.
Further, Kommander Klinton certainly may be a liar and wife-cheater, but, to paraphrase Martin Sheen in Francis Ford Coppolla's Apocalypse Now, to punish a politician for that is like issuing speeding tickets at the Indy 500. The whole scandal and the GOP outrage that followed smacks of hypocricy. And nobody better represented the hypocricy of the situation than Representative Henry Hyde, The Konformist Beast of the Month.
For the 3 or 4 of you out there who are unaware, the 74-year-old Republican Henry Hyde is the House Judiciary chairman, as well as the chairman of the impeachment hearings. On September 17, soon after the Peckergate scandal throbbed to a higher level this summer, Salon Magazine (whose Peckergate coverage has been embarrassingly partisan) released the shocking news that Hyde himself had an affair with a married mother of three in the 1960s that wrecked the woman's marriage. (To quote Apocalypse Now again: THE HORROR!) Despite the absurdity of the expose by Salon (at least Peckergate officially has to do with the real crime of perjury), Hyde, while admitting the report was true, proclaimed it was a "youthful indiscretion". He was 41-years old at the time of the affair. He then declared that the "statute of limitations" had run out. And then, to turn what could have been a frivolous report into a real story, Hyde, who like most Republicans had mocked the Klintons' whine of a "Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy", announced that the Salon story, though true, might be judged a crime, part of a diabolical plot against him and other upstanding GOP members dedicated to truth and justice. (Previously, Indiana's Dan "Scumbag" Burton and Idaho's Helen "The only endangered species is the white Anglo-Saxon male" Chenoweth had affairs outed in the post-Peckergate phrenzy.) "Efforts to intimidate members of Congress or interfere with the discharge of their duties in relation to the impeachment matter could constitute violation of federal criminal law," he proclaimed, then urged the FBI to investigate. So much for the First Amendment from the supposed defender of the "rule of law."
But then, if Salon Magazine had bothered to do some real investigation, they would have discovered that Hyde had a long career of contempt for rule of law. Robert Parry, the investigative report for the scrappy independent journalism site The Consortium, did precisely that, and reported some of the worst examples:
* In summer 1986, Hyde served on the House Intelligence Committee when allegations surfaced that Oliver North and the National Security Council were overseeing a secret operation in Nicaragua. The committee limited its "investigation" to asking North and others if the allegations were true. When the NSC officials gave denials, the committee declared that the charges were false.
* On Oct. 5, 1986, one of North's supply planes was shot down, and the Iran-contra scandal was born. Rather than demand "rule of law" in the brazen lie by Ollie North and co., he defended the perjury as necessary in this case. On every step of the "inquiry", Hyde was there, helping to cover the tracks of the Reagan-Bush administrations criminal involvement in Nicaragua (not to mention the cocaine trafficking.)
* In 1992, Hyde was the top Republican on a task force investigating if Reagan's 1980 campaign met with Iranian radicals to undercut President Carter's negotiations to free the 52 American hostages (better known as the October Surprise theory.) The evidence implicated Reagan's campaign chief William Casey, but the House task force reached the opposite conclusion, after creating bogus alibis for Casey's whereabouts on key days and hiding evidence that supported the suspicions.
Perhaps the most important example of Hyde's scofflaw nature involves the 1990 collapse of the Clyde Federal Savings & Loan, where Hyde had been a director. When Clyde Federal folded (which cost taxpayers $67 million), the government sued Hyde and other directors in 1993, charging negligence. The other directors settled the case last year for $850,000. The Congressional Accountability Project, a Washington D.C.-based watchdog group, asked the chairman of the FDIC to reconsider the settlement, and sent a lengthy list of questionable transactions that clearly deserved a thorough investigation. The evidence, naturally, was ignored. Despite the wrist-slapping of Clyde Federal directors, Hyde refused to contribute and denied any responsibility. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to conclude that Hyde used his considerable political power to evade punishment, which amounts to obstruction of justice.
Just how powerful is Hyde? According to investigator Sherman Skolnick, he is the head of the CIA's "black budget" with more actual authority than the Director of Central Intelligence. Perhaps this is an exaggeration, but considering his long and convenient cover of CIA operations, the accusation may have some merits. Further, the entire savings and loan swindle has CIA fingerprints all over the place, not to mention Mafia, and so anyone heavily involved in the S&L scandal (as Hyde obviously is) should be an automatic suspect to be linked to both. Hyde, not so incidentally, is from Illinois, which since the time of Capone has been an infamous den of gangsters.
With this in mind, perhaps the Salon report of Hyde's affair deserves a second look. At the time, Hyde was a member of the Illinois legislature supporting his wife and four children. Despite this, he set the woman up in an apartment and reportedly showered her with expensive gifts. How could he do this on his meager salary? Hmmm...
Which brings us back to the spectacle of Klinton's impeachment hearings. The truth is, an honest investigation of Klinton could find real reasons to impeach him, not the least of which is his own involvement in S&L swindling via the Whitewater scandal. What are the odds that Hyde will look into that, based on his own corrupt dealings with banks? About zero.
So don't look for anything important to be uncovered by Hyde's "inquiry", and don't expect any true justice to come from it. It is because of this that the public has grown more cynical about the political process, where the best hope for the people is a guy who is better known for prancing around in tights on television.
So thanks a lot, Mr. Hyde, for living up to the character created by Robert Louis Stevenson. For all your attempts at respectability and harping about getting "tough on crime" and the "rule of law", you have shown yourself to be as bad as anyone at abusing your immense power and covering up real criminal activity. No doubt you will continue to do the same as the Peckergate soap opera continues.
In any case, we salute you, Congressman Henry Hyde, as Beast of the Month. Congratulations, and keep up the great work, Hank!!!
The Real Henry Hyde?
(Note: despite it's embarrassing partisan coverage of the whole Peckergate affair, Salon, to its credit, had by far the best coverage of the elections at its site.)
Various Sherman Skolnick reports
"HYDE CLAIMS HE'S A VICTIM"
Elaine Hopkins, American Reporter Correspondent
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