During the worst moments of the O.J. Simpson trial, apologists for the system (myself included) would resort to the argument that the case was a learning experience for the country, a national class in criminal law. A nice line for television, until you get to the core of the lesson you’re teaching: that the rule of law is a function of politics, in that case race politics. Who wants to learn that one, much less teach it?

President Clinton’s second term can also be seen as a learning experience for the country, one that in many respects was as welcome as the Simpson case. For the better part of two years, we debated whether the Constitution’s provision on impeachment for the commission of “high crimes and misdemeanors” required the removal from office of a president who committed adultery and lied about it under oath.

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