The Impeachment Chronicles
On to Petticoat Junction

December 13, 1998 - As the impeachment train rolls down the track, I want to make a few observations in advance of the discussion and vote on the four articles just sent out of the Judiciary Committee yesterday and the day before. Some of this has been brought up in my January column in American Astrology, but events that have taken place since then are of more than passing astrological interest. The first of these was the election and the effect it seemed to have on attitudes toward the prospect of removing a President. The simplest political lesson of the recent midterm elections - in which the Republicans actually lost a few seats in the House, and one governorship, while reaching a stalemate in the Senate - has nothing to do with impeachment per se: You can't win an election just by saying "the other guy is a bum." That only works when the other guy is also a schmoo (one of those amiable creatures in Li'l Abner that smiled and bounced right back up when you hit them, but never hit back) or when you get across to voters the specific alternative you present to the other guy's "bumness." In other words, being against something (or someone) is fine, but you have to be for something at the same time.

While there are lots of interesting political currents in the election, the astrological ones are not so clear, and are quite another study apart from my concentration here on the Starr-Clinton (and now Congress) battle and how its critical turns may be signaled in contemporary aspects. One of those turns came when House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who began as one of the most powerful speakers of this century, announced on November 6, 1998 at around 3:00 P.M. Washington time (this according to contemporaneous news accounts) that he would not stand for election as speaker again and would in fact resign from the House altogether.

As the accompanying chart for his withdrawal from the scene shows, this has interesting astrological implications for the pending discussion and vote by the full House on those impeachment articles, set for Thursday, December 17th. Let me note before getting further into what those implications might be that as I will be using charts over a great range of dates (from 1600 through 1998), all zodiacal longitudes are sidereal. Early in my study of the matter of impeachment, I noticed what seemed to be the involvement of several stars, including Spica (for which there is no such tradition, so go figure). It seemed prudent, then, to use longitudes which would not obscure any such connection, and that in turn leads to some other interesting observations.

Gingrich has been given two different birth times, but by far the most reliable is 11:45 P.M. EWT, a split-the-difference compromise (according to Fran McEvoy, with whom I spoke on this) based on two similar statements by his mother in two different interviews. That chart (June 17, 1943, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) relocated to Washington with transits for November 6, 1998 is what you see above.

Of three aspects within less than a degree on the date of his announcement, one is the all-pervading Saturn-Neptune square already covered, another is the opposition of Mars to Jupiter and the third, Mercury conjunct Pluto, sits directly on Gingrich's Midheaven - Mercury at 11°48', Pluto at 12°18' and his Midheaven at 12°39' of the sidereal sign Scorpio. Right off hand, the only similar instance I could recall was Lyndon Johnson's surprise statement March 31, 1968 that "I shall not seek and I will not accept the nomination of my party as your President." Johnson's chart set for Washington, with the transits for that date in the outer circle, is shown here.

Note that in Johnson's case, of five transiting aspects within a degree, three of them are Mercury conjunct Venus opposite Pluto, while the other two involve Neptune, though this time via a square from Jupiter and a sextile from Uranus. The Mercury-Venus-Pluto is right across Johnson's Ascendant-Descendant for Washington, echoing Gingrich, though with the addition of Venus. The reason I chose Johnson, by the way, is that like Gingrich, and unlike Nixon, he was opting out of a difficult political situation by refusing to involve himself in it further.

So why have I gone into this here? The first reason is that Gingrich's Mercury-Pluto bogeyman returns during the time the impeachment debate is scheduled and the vote may be taken, though it does not become exact until the 22nd, after the likely vote. The second reason is that, as we saw in the previous installment and as we'll see in the one to come, actual impeachment votes and resignations from office seem notably not to involve Mercury-Pluto. The third is a "maybe," which is that the area around 12-14 degrees of Scorpio (the sidereal sign, remember) has been active in past impeachment efforts, though with different planets. In the absence of strong Venus aspects, the implications of the coming vote for Clinton are not at all obvious. Only a simple majority on one article is required to move the process to the next step, however.

Having already stated my opinions about what the final denouement might be, I don't want to restate them in the middle of this highly-charged event. However, I do want to encourage those who read this to take advantage of a unique circumstance - a historically rare political struggle, the fact that we can watch it as it happens, and the further fact that the aspect picture in such cases in the past has been clear. There are some differences and some similarities in what's going on in the sky now, so we can truly learn at this point by setting aside the urge to predict and simply observing and learning. More later, and, I hope, before the vote.

Next: Other Times, Other Impeachments