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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

December-15-98

Statement of Eleanor Smeal, President of Feminist Majority, on the Pending Presidential Impeachment Vote

Washington DC -- The Feminist Majority joins with our sister organizations - and indeed the majority of women in this nation - in a united call to action to help stop this impeachment spectacle that has overtaken our political system. We stand today in disbelief that Congress is about to impeach a president who has the support of two-thirds of the American people - support which was voiced loud and clear on Election Day.
If you believe that the impeachment process must stop - call your member of Congress and your Senators at 202-225-3121. And call Speaker-elect Bob Livingston to urge him to allow a vote on censure. The Feminist Majority will join other women's groups, civil rights groups, and labor organizations in a vigil outside of the House of Representatives on Thursday from 10am to 2pm.

Women leaders felt so strongly that this mockery of justice must come to an end that on September 24 - before the elections - we issued the first public call to action to stop the impeachment process. Now, we come together again in an effort to end this partisan travesty before it is too late.

We should not be lulled into complacency by the assumption that the U.S. Senate ultimately will be able to put a stop to this madness. A Senate trial will paralyze this nation. It would irreparably weaken the position of the office of the president and the global standing of the United States. It would bring to a standstill our chances of passing the Violence Against Women Act II and the Fair Pay Act, strengthening Social Security for women, and raising the minimum wage.

Assume the worst - are these offenses crimes against the state - can we equate this misconduct - especially abhorrent to feminist leaders - with treason and bribery and abuse of presidential power? Of course not. We must keep some sense of proportionality. Precisely because of the sexual backdrop of this misconduct some of us felt compelled and duty-bound to speak out and to act.

Women have an unique role to play in the process. We have disproportionately supported the President because of his record on the issues. We deplore his misconduct, but we also understand the hypocrisy of his opponents.

The self-righteous right wing opponents of sexual harassment law in their self-appointed role as sex police are distorting the concept of sexual harassment into a tool of selective prosecution. How ironic it is that the chair of the House Judiciary Committee who himself lived a double life will be the prosecutor in a Senate trial.

The irony continues. Elections in which the majority of women voted for the President and his policies are about to be declared null and void by a Congress which is comprised of only 12% women.

From the beginning, there has been a gender gap in the public opinion polls in President Clinton's approval rating, with women supporting President Clinton most strongly. Throughout this scandal, women have maintained their strong support for the President. Today, President Clinton's approval rating is so high because the gender gap is closing with men moving in the direction that women initially staked out. In the November elections, exit polls revealed overwhelming opposition to impeachment. And social security and education mattered far more to voters than the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal. Yet Congress is on the brink of taking irrevocable actions which fly in the face of public opinion -- and of women's opinion.

The President has sustained support from among women not only because of his record on issues that matter to women but also because of the record of his political opponents. Moreover, some of those who attack the President for immoral sexual behavior could not themselves stand the same public scrutiny. The public, and women most of all understand, this hypocrisy.

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