Why the Public Ignores Washington

I cannot agree with columnist Godfrey Sperling's opinion ("Washington's 'Big Story' Plays to a Jaded Audience," Feb. 24) that public apathy toward the Monica Lewinsky scandal may be due to TV having "conditioned [many Americans] to tolerate alleged infidelity in the White House."

The problem is not TV. It is the incessant press coverage. Since the scandal broke, one can hardly view a news program without hearing about it. One would think that there is nothing else significant going on in the world. No matter how interesting the scandal, even the most interested viewer has got to be getting a little tired of it.

The moral posturing of the press is hypocritical at best, and shows a decided lack of historical perspective. Reporters (particularly those with conservative leanings) would like us to think that a person who would commit adultery could not possibly be a good leader. There are plenty of examples of people who were excellent leaders, but whose private morals were lax. In addition, those who have good private morals are not necessarily good leaders. If the president had an affair with Ms. Lewinsky, he should be ashamed, and I am sorry for Mrs. Clinton. However, he shouldn't be run out of town on a rail.

K. Christine Scarpinatto


I'm sure Mr. Sperling genuinely wonders whether the American people have lost "the ability to be ashamed," as he quotes writer Larry Gelbart. But how can he make such an easy comparison between the Watergate scandal of the early 1970s and the current "scandal" involving President Clinton and Ms. Lewinsky? Watergate and related "dirty tricks" were a deliberate threat, sanctioned by a sitting president, to the fairness of our country's electoral process. Mr. Clinton may be guilty of a moral failure in his personal life. Who are we to judge him in such a private matter?

Clearly, Kenneth Starr was unable to make a solid case against the president in the Whitewater investigation - and the latest allegations seem to many an attempt to justify that enormous expenditure of time and tax money. Yes, a lot of Americans are ashamed - ashamed that Mr. Starr has been so free to drag the political discourse in this country down to such an abysmal level.

Nancy Morgan

Freeville, N.Y.

Finding a way around war

Thanks for "An Unused American Tactic: Trying Saddam for War Crimes" (Feb. 20). As the news media seem bent on the excitement of preparation for war, it is encouraging to know there is still an alternative to bloodshed, and that the Monitor continues to be a voice for reason and fresh ideas in the news.

Kofi Annan was chastised by a US Congressman for his tenacity in trying to come to a diplomatic solution - for treating Saddam Hussein as a "human." Yet immediately many nations' leaders voiced their continued support for taking every possible action to avoid armed conflict. Nations unified in their unwillingness to accept Saddam's evil behavior and an international tribunal to bring his errors to justice - this is love in action. Saddam, although engaged in heinous, evil behavior, is, after all, a human being - who deserves the prayerful love of every one of us. Love will indeed bring justice and resolution.

Janis Hunt Johnson

Ashland, Ore.

Schools overlook a spiritual need

Since I'm preparing to become a schoolteacher in the near future, I took special interest in the opinion-page article " And Infuse Education with More Spiritual Values" (Feb. 10). An education that lacks the essential spiritual values articulated by the article's author, Thomas H. Groome, is incomplete. The most effective and life-changing educators I have known in my public school experience have been the ones who have held these values in their hearts as they taught.

Lisa Seagull Whittlesey

Palo Alto, Calif.

Letters for publication must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Letters should be mailed to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, faxed to 617-450-2317, or e-mailed to oped@csps.com

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