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Eight Years Later

(A reprint of my annual anniversary item, with small adjustments).

As of Oct. 16, it's been eight years since fury at the Clinton impeachment drove me to write this weekly blog--an impeachment, we now discover, that even Republicans didn't want. It was forced on the nation by Dick "The Hammer" Armey--with whom karma caught up. There is, sometimes, justice in the universe.

[As a U.S. history teacher, I am forced to note that Andrew Johnson's impeachment was a rabid partisan witch hunt, as was Clinton's. Only Nixon's was bipartisan--and only Nixon resigned.]

Anyway, I either had to start a column or check into a mental institution. PSACOT gave me a forum in which to express, to an audience (no matter how small) my feelings about that political circus. It has since evolved into a combination of diary for my family and me and bulletin board for my clever friends--in short, a personal column. Like, but not as good as, former San Francisco Chronicle columnist Adair Lara or ongoing columnist Jon Carroll. Or, to take a national example, former New York Times columnist Anna Quindlen, considered the mother of the personal column concept (even though Stanton Delaplane and Charles McCabe of the San Francisco Chronicle actually beat her to it--but of course, if it hasn't happened in New York, it hasn't happened).

PSACOT is also a revival of sorts. I don't believe anyone who reads this column except Peter Peckarsky would remember the original P.S. A Column On Things, which ran in ERGO, MIT's objectivist newspaper from September 1970 to March 1971, and The Tech, MIT's semi-official student newspaper, from March 1971 to May 1971. Those were among my happiest days as a journalist. If I had truly understood the fulfillment a personal column gave me, perhaps I would have fought harder to keep it when Bob Fourer killed it, or revived it when I became editor-in-chief two years later, or tried to practice the craft (and become the father of the personal column).

Ironically, this column, born in a political circus, celebrates its eighth anniversary during another political circus. I am as passionate about this one as I was the impeachment.

Bush's dubious 2004 re-elevation (he didn't win the first time either) and disastrous second term (to date) stand as a monument. Not to courage, or "staying the course," but to the right-wing Republican conspiracy to overturn elections they cannot win fair and square, or to change the rules in the middle of the game. That conspiracy now includes:

  • the 1996 presidential election (impeachment)
  • the 2000 election (fraud and illicit Supreme Court chicanery--federalism HAH!)
  • redistricting in Texas and Colorado without a new census (not the way the game has been played for 230 or so years)
  • the 2002 California Gubernatorial election
  • the 2004 election, with its accurate exit polls and inaccurate vote counts (viz. Ohio)

The list just gets longer. Don't expect things to change in 2006.

Still, I expect you'll read as much or more about Marlow and Rae and their doings, and my classroom, as you will about politics in this forum this year. It is increasingly apparent I am mellowing with age.