By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
• Plainly overcome by his zealotry, Rogan has railed at his jurors, Republicans no less than Democrats, for failing to appreciate the merits of the managers’ case. Arguing last week to have the Senate air the Blumenthal deposition, he scolded the solons for their lack of seriousness. "If one senator has failed to sit through this deposition and every deposition," Rogan said darkly, "that senator is not equipped to render a verdict on the impeachment trial of the president of the United States."
• On Saturday, charged with introducing the videotaped depositions of the three witnesses, Rogan declined to let the Lewinsky of the testimony speak for herself. Instead, he all but cast her as Little Mary Sunshine, and Clinton as foul Snidely Whiplash, in a gaslight melodrama of his own devising: The Villain Still Pursued Her. Lewinsky, he began, "is an intelligent young woman who until recently held untarnished hopes for tomorrow . . . A bright lady whose life has forever been marked by the most powerful man on the earth . . . [who] impulsively began using Lewinsky for his gratification the very day he first spoke with her." And when the affair was exposed, Rogan continued, Clinton "responded not in love, not in friendship . . . [but] prepared to summarily take her life and throw it on the ash heap." Dudley Do-Right for the prosecution — but moralistic in a way that even Dudley might shun: "We seek no congressional punishment," Rogan fairly sneered, "for a man who chose to cheat on his wife."
There have been moments when Rogan has ably made his case. He called the Senate’s attention to the fact that Clinton’s famous denial of sexual relations based on the pres ent-tense-ness of the verb is pertained to the very exchange Clinton claimed he wasn’t paying attention to — attorney Bob Bennett’s pres en ta tion of Monica Lewinsky’s false affidavit. Rogan effectively brought out the absurdity of Clinton’s position: "Here is what the president says in his own defense: ‘I wasn’t paying any attention to what my lawyer was saying when he offered the false affidavit on my behalf to the judge. However, if I was paying attention, I was focusing on the very narrow definition of what the word isis and the tense in which that was presented.’"
But Rogan’s signature interventions in the impeachment trial have been those instances where he has defined the outer limits of the House Republicans’ jihad, where he has pushed even his fellow managers past a position they felt comfortable defending. And in this, there’s a considerable irony. For however unpopular the 13 House prosecutors may have become ä nationally, they at least can be fairly sure that they retain the support of their own districts.
Well, almost all of them can be fairly sure. Only two of them come from districts that Clinton actually carried. And of those two, only one actually won fewer votes in his district in the 1996 election than Clinton did.
That one, of course, is Jim Rogan.
The most hard-line of the House prosecutors, in fact, represents the most pro-Clinton of the House prosecutors’ districts. Clinton carried Rogan’s Glendale-Pasadena-Burbank-area district by 8 percent in each of the last two presidential elections. Rogan, by contrast, pulled down just 50 percent of the vote in each of the two elections (’96 and ’98) in which he’s stood for Congress — defeating Democrat Barry Gordon last November by a scant 3 percent after outspending Gordon by more than 2-to-1.
Indeed, a poll taken by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee two weeks ago found that Clinton’s approval rating among voters in Rogan’s district stood at 69 percent — about the same as the national figure. It also found 44 percent of district voters saying they were less likely to vote for Rogan because of his role as a House prosecutor.
Rogan has clung to power in his moderate district by passing himself off as a moderate kind of guy. In his pursuit of Bill Clinton, however, he’s been about as moderate as Captain Ahab, or Inspector Javert, or Stalin chasing Trotsky. When Bob Barr buckles, or Lindsey Graham concedes a point, or Charles Canady proves too much of a legal stickler, or Henry Hyde bows to the demands of his Senate colleagues, there’s always Jim Rogan — the last man still insisting that nailing Bill Clinton is the single most important object of public policy, of national life. The last man, I suspect, that the voters of Glendale, Burbank and Pasadena want representing them in Congress — today, in the election of 2000, or any time thereafter.