Whose Adultery Obsession?

In Daniel Schorr's column "Our Adultery Obsession Isn't Adult" (March 20), he seems disappointed that Gary Hart withdrew his candidacy when his adulterous "tryst" was publicized.

He has missed the point of public perspective. We don't want bad men as our elected leaders (and sin is bad by definition). Efficient administration and charming personality do not overcome moral turpitude when weighed by an informed constituency. It is not an obsession with adultery, but a growing awareness and contempt for dishonesty that is threatening the careers of many political aspirants; a trend to be applauded, not bemoaned as Mr. Schorr suggests.

Conrad Weiser

St. Petersburg, Fla.

I take issue with the closing line of Schorr's essay: "It is hard to say when the public will determine that obsession with adultery is not necessarily adult."

I think it is very clear: If one views the media coverage of this scandal in light of the public opinion polls, it is the media, not the public, that is obsessed with this scandal. It adds insult to injury for the media to force-feed the public with scandal coverage, then accuse the public of an obsession, when the shoe is so clearly on the other foot.

Baruch Gitlin

Betar, Israel

Schorr fails to mention the 1992 interview on "60 Minutes" when Clinton and his wife deliberately introduced the subject of his adultery, tacitly admitted it, and then made a promise to America that it would not happen again. It was a brilliant preemptive strike; and it worked. It can be seriously argued that the interview was key to Clinton being elected.

The success of the strike depended on two factors: Mrs. Clinton saying she would stand by her man and her man convincing the American people he was truly sorry and would not do it again.

There is now very strong evidence that "her man" has done it again; breaking a promise he went out of his way to make in front of a very large television audience.

I also object to Schorr saying "obsession with adultery is not necessarily adult." The one who may be most obsessed here is Clinton.

We are not talking about a discreet affair. We are talking about a possible compulsive, obsessive sexual predation that may have for years involved women who worked for him. We are faced with the possible spectacle of the man who may have used his position as governor of a state and as president to take advantage of and oppress women. And he may have asked these women to lie about it.

If the chief executive of a publicly held corporation acted that way, he'd be fired by the board of directors. May the day never come when we are "adult" about such matters.

Elia M. Larocca

Fresno, Calif.

Clinton and Xitong: no echo there

As a long-time Monitor reader, I was appalled by the article "Clinton-Like Charges Echo in Chinese Case" (March 19).

Does the Monitor really think a few superficial similarities ("each had an aide commit suicide") between the situations of President Clinton and Chen Xitong deserve to be discussed on the front page of a serious newspaper? Clinton has not been officially indicted of any crime, while Chen Xitong seems to have spent the last three years in detention.

To report about Mr. Xitong's case is good journalism; but to compare the situation of the former Chinese party leader to President Clinton's is sensationalism.

Barbara Stoller


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