Lack of Family Values or a Rush to Judgment?

Thank you, Mr. Sperling! I wholeheartedly agree with your column "A White House Indiscretion Is a Betrayal of Family Values" (March 17). It is sad that Americans are unwilling to think deeply about the message we are sending to the next generation if we separate the way Mr. Clinton conducts his private life from the way he performs his job.

From the moment Bill Clinton took the oath of office, he became a leader. He has a huge potential to enlighten, educate, and inspire. A leader is not only a role model, but our representative. Are we to ask our children to follow President Clinton's example? Does he best represent who we are?

A willingness to overlook moral choices made by our leaders speaks to a lack of adult messages conveying the importance of family, fidelity, honesty, and responsibility. How can we wonder at the violent crimes committed by children, the unwed teenage pregnancy rate, domestic violence, gang shootings, and drug deals when we adults fail to stand up for what we know is morally right?

We need to refocus ourselves in order to refocus our children. We need to talk about and model the importance of love and commitment in families, of ethical and moral choices, of honesty (even when it's hard), and of doing the right thing. Families in which parents are models for morality and responsibility strengthen our society. Governments in which leaders are models for morality and responsibility strengthen a nation.

So, Mr. Sperling, I'm glad you're sticking to your guns "that if the president has had an extra-marital relationship , it does matter greatly: It demeans the presidency and sets a terrible example for our children." Don't forget the majority is often silent. I'd like to think in this case we won't be!

Nancy Koenig Davis

Glenview, Ill.

I am disappointed in the column discussing our support of President Clinton. The article concludes, "most Americans are no longer supportive of family values " Well, I am a supporter of the president, but I am also a person with family values.

I guess I am one of those Americans you mention - more interested in self than in morals, the kind of person that has lost his family values - since I have decided to wait and see what comes from all the allegations, out of respect to our system of justice and the presidency.

Maybe these same Americans have become savvy to the political game and realize how nasty politics can get. Or maybe they truly have doubts about Bill Clinton but are unwilling to drag his problems through the streets, as the media has done.

Or maybe they have weighed the consequences of possible "indiscretions" and have decided they would rather live with those than live with the ideas and policies of those who oppose the president. The fact that so many people are willing to stick with Clinton in the face of so many allegations might say a lot about the views of Clinton's opponents.

The tone of your article smacks of right-wing conservatism and of groups who talk a lot about morals and then justify their own "indiscretions." The phrase "family values" is gradually becoming a joke as we witness the tactics of those who love to use the phrase. Of course, you have the right to "stick to your guns," but maybe you ought to leave your guns in their holsters until you have a real target to shoot at. There are plenty of others if you look around.

Yes, I am wondering about Bill Clinton. I am wondering about the moral fabric of our society and the nature of politics. I am wondering about the behavior of the press and the media, including the Monitor.

Bradley Hendrix

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