Henry Hyde was the Republican Congressman from Illinois who spearheaded the Clinton impeachment proceedings. He passed away yesterday.
I remember seeing him three times on television, and I was impressed each time. The first time was on C-SPAN, when it was covering a House debate on abortion. Let me tell you, the 1990's were the best years to watch C-SPAN, for you got to see such colorful characters as Bob Dornan and Henry Hyde in action. In that debate, Bob Dornan called Jane Roe a "fake," but that was before her conversion to evangelical Christianity and, later, Catholicism. But back to our topic: Henry Hyde gave a powerful, impassioned speech against abortion. He presented it as a crime against nature, noting that even mother crocodiles will risk their lives to protect their young. In abortion, by contrast, a mother pays someone to kill her child (or has the government pay for it). Hyde also lambasted liberal hypocrisy, since liberals claim to support the oppressed and downtrodden, yet support allowing a procedure that kills helpless and vulnerable human beings. I thoroughly agreed with his speech.
The second time I saw him was on C-SPAN's coverage of the Waco hearings. I don't remember this incident as clearly, perhaps because Waco was a complex issue. A relative of mine predicted that the hearings wouldn't ask good questions like, "You guys claim you were interfering for the sake of the children, and yet those children died in the compound as a result of your actions. How do you reconcile this?" Yet, I turned on C-SPAN to watch the hearings, and Henry Hyde made this exact point. He didn't allow the Clinton appointees or the ATF to get off easily. He even documented what he was saying with sources that were hardly conservative.
And, of course, I watched him give the first speech of the Clinton impeachment proceedings, and he was awesome. He mentioned many judges who lost their jobs because of perjury, and he asked why Clinton's fate should be any different. His point was very important because many would try to reduce the Clinton impeachment issue to sex, as if the Republicans wanted to impeach Clinton for having an affair with Monica Lewinsky. Ergo, there were people who were calling Newt Gingrich and Henry Hyde hypocrites because there were extramarital affairs in their pasts (though I must note that Henry Hyde reconciled with his wife and remained married to her until the day of her death). But the main issue wasn't sex. It was perjury. Clinton lied under oath, so he deserved to be removed from office, like other officials who commit perjury. The Clintons shouldn't be above the law, even though they seem to think they're entitled to special treatment.
According to wikipedia's article, Henry Hyde went against his party on certain occasions. He supported family leave legislation and the ban on assault weapons. And, much to my surprise, he was critical of the Iraq war from the very beginning. I like Republicans who are willing to think outside the box, at least when they are genuine conservatives and not RINOs (Republicans In Name Only).
So America lost a great man yesterday. He was an intelligent and articulate defender of conservative principles. Too bad he never ran for President!
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