There were four speakers at yesterday's Democratic pep rally on Capitol Hill. President Clinton was the headliner, of course. House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) and Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) gave their usual stump speeches, too.
But how about that fourth guy?
"Mr. President, your own tireless and dedicated work . . . has earned the Democratic Party the trust and the confidence of a majority of Americans," he proclaimed to wild applause. "Mr. President, . . . you have talked to America about what unites us, while the opposition talks about what divides us. You, sir, have talked about the next generation, not the next election. Thank you so much for your leadership."
That would be Rep. Michael P. Forbes (D-N.Y.) -- who until last month was Rep. Michael P. Forbes (R-N.Y.) -- the new cult hero of the Democratic Party. It seems almost churlish to point out that last December, Forbes voted to impeach that "tireless and dedicated" leader.
"What do you tell your children about the highest elected official in the land being allowed to lie under oath?" he said at the time. And: "We cannot lower the standard for this betrayal of trust and for compromising his oath of office." And: "The president has almost retreated from any sense of remorse."
But things change. After all, earlier this summer, Forbes endorsed GOP front-runner George W. Bush for president. Which doesn't exactly explain the conclusion of his speech yesterday.
"Thank you so very much for your magnanimous and generous friendship," Forbes told the assembled Democrats. "You just help me reaffirm the wisdom of my decision and the promise of an even better tomorrow -- when Democrats once again reclaim the White House and Congress in January 2001!"