What really matters today HL IMPEACHMENT:

We have heard much these past days on the articles of impeachment hanging so ominously over President Clinton's head.

We have heard from each and every one of the 37 members of the House Judiciary Committee. We have heard from lawyers and professors, the majority counsel and the minority counsel, from the independent counsel and the White House counsel, and from the president himself.

And every single one has asserted most authoritatively what matters most in this case.

What we have not heard so much of is anything about what doesn't matter.

It doesn't matter, first of all, what the polls say, not one whit. The Constitution says nothing about polls. When the members of the House vote - and the Senate, too, if it comes to that - their duty will be to vote their conscience, to vote their true convictions of where the rights and the wrongs of the matter lie.

It also doesn't matter what party a member belongs to. The Constitution says nothing about parties. It speaks only of a House and a Senate composed of individual members. They alone carry the burden and bear the responsibility. They are sworn to uphold the Constitution, to choose the nation's long-term good over their own perceived advantage. Their individual political future or Mr. Clinton's, for that matter, is not what counts here.

Rationalization, posturing, and spin don't count either.

What will forever count in the eyes of history will be whether justice is done. It will not be an easy call, and it should not be.

As Lincoln once said of his tough choices, "If the end brings me out wrong, 10 angels swearing I was right would make no difference."

Come to think of it, when was the last time an angel was sighted in Washington?

* Charles Osgood is the anchor of CBS News Sunday Morning. This commentary aired last Sunday on the program.

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