Readers respond to Sperling's take on Clinton

The Monitor received an unusual amount of mail - largely negative - in recent weeks regarding columnist Godfrey Sperling's commentaries on President Clinton's impeachment tribulations. A selection follows.

When I saw the headline of columnist Godfrey Sperling's "When impeachment meant something" (Dec. 29) I had hope that he may finally have something balanced to say.

False hope. He continues to hold the high moral ground. We the masses are stupid, misguided, apathetic, and distracted. His view: We don't get it!

I dislike this dismissive tone.

There is another viewpoint: Perhaps it's not all of us who are out of step. Perhaps we are moral, intelligent people, who have considered the situation carefully. We are morally troubled by Clinton's behavior - along with the antics of many members of Congress - but we respect democracy too much to join a partisan lynch mob, whipped to its fervor by the demagogues of the religious right. I suspect the motives of those throwing stones.

Wesley Wilson, Waltham, Mass.

For months I have disagreed with Mr. Sperling's judgments on the impeachment matter. Now, I am just tired of hearing him.

He just doesn't understand that most Americans not only approve of Clinton's performance but feel compassion for him because he has been under vicious, unrelenting attack by his political enemies. This doesn't mean that Americans are less moral than they used to be, or that they undervalue the seriousness of impeachment. No, we don't like Clinton's untruthfulness. Yes, we want him punished. But we don't think what he did warrants impeachment.

Emmett J. Murphy, Satsuma, Fla.

I happen to be of Sperling's generation. But I believe in privacy, which he clearly does not. Whatever President Clinton did or did not do in his private life is not the nation's business. Sperling needs to get out into the real world, were people know the difference between private behavior and public policy.

Kenneth Schnall, Holland Township, N.J.

When this whole Clinton "business" began, I was dismayed at the attention it got over more important issues. I was really not interested in knowing about the president's extramarital affairs. Was I being indulgent, permissive, immoral? No. I simply saw the thing for what it was: a political attack by partisan politicians with their own agenda to oust a president that they didn't like.

The immorality wasn't discounted by me. Rather, I knew it to be a smoke screen to excite popular disapproval while the Republicans could carry out their plan. My outrage then was what those politicians were willing to do to disrupt our country.

Dawn Arnold, Chicago

I am outraged that anyone would think Mr. Clinton has anything to apologize for. This country - and particularly its media - owes him an apology. And his persecutors owe us, the public who twice voted him into office, an apology.

I am outraged that Sperling has so little respect for the intelligence of the American public that he assumes our support of Clinton must be based on good-time economics. Have you considered that he may have won the gratitude and respect of large numbers of people for his skill at steering this country down the middle of the road in these politically and socially parlous times?

Sperling is perplexed by the mainstream support for our president. I, on the other hand, am perplexed by the fringe push to "get" him.

Claire Matthews, Hays, Kan.

I have always enjoyed Sperling's columns. But it seems he has written more columns about Clinton and his failings than about any other person. Now, when I see he's written about Clinton, I skip to something else.

Prenda E. Cook, Harlingen, Texas

I don't minimize Clinton's wrongdoing. But let's keep things in perspective. The Iran-contra affair was flagrantly illegal and subverted constitutional checks against an arbitrary executive. The fact that Reagan and Bush covered their antics with lies in the name of sham claims of national security is no excuse for these crimes and is further ground for prosecution.

Mike Raugh, Via e-mail

Yes, there is outrage toward Clinton. But it's the type of outrage I feel when a good friend has a wandering spouse who cheats and lies on him or her. But such outrage does not call for loss of job. This is a personal matter to be worked out between two people, and within the family. Outrage, perhaps. Impeachment, no.

Virginia Richardson, Lancing, Mich.

Ordinarily I enjoy reading Sperling's column and always find that I am on common ground with his views. But I take exception with a reference he made about "the next generation" - those who were a part of the protest movement in the 1960s that brought in a "new morality."

Baby boomers are constantly being labeled self-indulgent, spoiled, and immature. I know very few people in my age group that fit the image - except for our president. Please cease from using my generation as a scapegoat for the country's ills.

Mindy Stewart, Santa Barbara, Calif.

Thank you for your vigilance regarding Clinton's situation. As a woman, what distresses me the most is women - all the weak-kneed women who excuse Clinton's behavior. It must be a misplaced desire to mother this man, although it will destroy progress women have made.

Joyce Dahl, Scottsdale, Ariz.

I am outraged by what is going on and by the public's seeming lack of concern. I think there are many folks as outraged as I. Keep up the good work, Sperling, you are not alone in your outrage.

Karin Gertsch, Essex, Mass.

The Monitor welcomes your letters, which can be sent to 'Readers Write,' One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or by fax to 617-450-2317, or by e-mail to oped@csps.com

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