Farewell to Henry Hyde*

The "conservative giant" announces his retirement -- and remembers the Salon story about his affair.

Published April 19, 2005 6:04PM (EDT)

Henry Hyde, the Illinois Republican who ran the impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton in the House of Representatives, told his hometown newspaper Monday that he won't seek another term in office. "Father Time and Mother Nature stalk every one of us, and they finally caught up with me," Hyde, who is 81, told the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill.

Amid all the respectful retirement-dinner talk about Hyde as a "conservative giant" and "eloquent statesmen," the Daily Herald includes a few paragraphs on the asterisk on Hyde's career: The fact that the man who prosecuted the president for acts related to his sexual indiscretions carried on an extra-marital affair himself. Salon broke the story in 1998, and the Daily Herald says that Hyde is still stinging from it. If the press wants to focus on Hyde's distant past, he says, it should talk about his service in the Navy in World War II.

But the Daily Herald puts the question to Hyde: How should people think about his affair today? His answer: "That it was a serious lapse in judgment and I never lied about it. I never perjured myself. I never obstructed justice, he said. My wife, whos been deceased for 12 years, forgave me. My children forgave me. And I dont think that (it) should disqualify me from the human race."

No one said it should, of course. Whether it should have disqualified him from holding some kind of high ground over Bill Clinton is another question entirely.

Postscript: In looking back through Salon's coverage of the Hyde affair, we stumbled across a reminder of the good man that Tom DeLay really is. After Salon ran its report on Hyde's affair, DeLay -- who knows a thing or two about intimidating people -- announced that he was asking then-FBI chief Louis Freeh to "investigate allegations that certain associates and allies of the White House have embarked on a campaign to intimidate members of Congress." Asked what evidence he had, other than vague and unsourced media reports, that the White House was involved in Salon's Hyde story, DeLay said: "I don't have any evidence."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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