Readers' Views On President And Scandal

President Clinton's speech to the nation last Monday regarding his relationship with Monica Lewinsky has prompted many readers to respond. Here are some excerpts.

Presidential Morality

Wake up America! The Clinton scandal is not about an extra-marital affair. Does lying under oath, lying to the country for seven months, possible witness tampering, and possible obstruction of justice mean anything to those who want to dismiss this as "Clinton's personal affair, let's forgive him"? Look at the facts and give this some long, thoughtful consideration. No one is above the law.

Chuck Wilson

Richland, Wash.

Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that "America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great." America is a little less good today, in part, because of her president's moral compass. And in part, because many Americans seem to be saying that the president's character is unimportant to them, that dishonesty with family and friends, in the courts, and with the American people doesn't matter as long as he is on the "right" side of popular issues.

A country's greatness is defined by the character of its people as well as its leaders.

Gary S. Krahenbuhl

Tempe, Ariz.

I think it's crazy what people are subjecting the president to lately. I could care less what he did in his private time.

Elizabeth A. Gilliam

San Diego

The courageous statement President Clinton made to the American people on Aug. 17 has not silenced by those who have been trying to destroy his presidency.

A look at the historical record is in order. Was Dwight Eisenhower crucified because of his affair with Kay Summerfield, his chauffeur, when he was commander of World War II military forces?

Benjamin Franklin was known to be a ladies' man while he represented America in France during the American Revolution. This did not prevent him from attending to business and getting France into the war on America's side against England.

Thomas Jefferson had an affair with the wife of an English diplomat while he was minister to France.

The point is that the sexual indiscretions of these historical personages did not prevent them from doing their job. Yes, Clinton made a mistake. That mistake will not prevent him from serving the American people in the tradition of the great Americans cited above.

William Herziger

Neenah, Wis.

It astounds me that more questions are not being asked about the chronic poor judgment the president has exhibited throughout his career in relation to his sexual exploits. How could an otherwise intelligent and capable person choose to risk it all?

If society has given men the permission to think they have uncontrollable sexual appetites, then we accept it when the president follows suit and finds it impossible to say no. What would we say if Clinton were a woman?

A. Potter

Iowa City, Iowa

Family Matters

After watching President Clinton's admission, I was undecided as to what action he should take to regain the confidence of the American public. On C-SPAN, the National Council of Churches discussed the situation.

The representative from the Episcopalian Church suggested that if the Clintons had arrived at his office as private citizens, he would have recommended that Clinton quit his job, take his family out of the public eye, and spend more time with them to save his marriage and family. Maybe that is essentially the correct "moral" decision to make.

Judy Secker

Olympia, Wash.

Regarding "Scandal Feeds Kids' Questions" (Aug. 21): Exactly. There are other important ramifications [to the scandal], but none more important [than the effect on kids].

Robert L. Braun

Stonington, Maine

The opinion piece "President's Disgrace" (Aug 19) has put the proverbial hammer to the nail. Nevertheless, a touch of forgiveness should have been added. Jesus forgave and loved all, thus healing their sins. He did not condone the sin, he condemned it, but he also showed how we must forgive the poor in spirit. This is how we find closure (healing) - as a nation, as an individual.

Patrick L. Flavin

Chestnut Hill, Mass.

Investigation Toll

Within the headlines about the private life of President Clinton, the tragedy I see is the sorry state of our political system.

It's obvious the Republican Party heads think they can win a better position for the next elections by siccing special prosecutors on both Clinton and Gore.

And the ideal of having our election outcomes determined by ideas is being replaced with a growing emphasis on character attacks, which always distract attention from the issues. We the people are the real losers.

William A. Self

Redwood Valley, Calif.

I read the article "Clinton's Speech Erodes His Standing on the Hill" (Aug. 20) in which people are upset with the cost of special prosecutor Ken Starr's investigation of President Clinton. It is generally agreed that $40 million has been spent on this investigation. If one considers that there are roughly 90 million taxpayers in America, then the individual portion of this cost is but 44 cents per taxpayer - spread over four years - or 11 cents per year.

So I ask you, brother, can you spare a dime?

Anthony R. Vanchieri

Alexandria, Va.

Press as Player

Regarding the opinion piece "President's Disgrace" (Aug. 19), listing all the past flaws of the president's personal life and completely ignoring the good he has accomplished in his public life is by no means in keeping with the purpose of Monitor reporting to "injure no man but to bless all mankind."

Ron Thomas

San Francisco

The cartoon you ran Aug. 20 did for me what I expect a Monitor cartoon to do - make me smile while pondering a current situation in the world. "Delivery to Hillary Rodham Clinton" said it all. Our hearts (and flowers) go out to all who have challenges in their marriages, and especially when it is such a public challenge.

Dorothy Lambertsen

Portland, Ore.

The article "Scandal's Mark on Washington (Aug. 18) was shaped to blame Washington's declining esteem on the investigation of special prosecutor Kenneth Starr.

More than any other president in memory, Mr. Clinton has been a creation of the media. His good looks and message of New Democrat ideals resonated well with the liberals who constitute 90 percent of the mainstream press. The press can continue to blame Mr. Starr or they can try to blame the American public for being complacent and/or gullible with respect to the left-wing scandals. However, the media have been complicit.

Jesse (Gloria) Esquivel

San Antonio, Texas

You had your fun, now please give us a break - no more Monica Lewinsky. We, the readers, mostly do not care for the subject. Please let this last week of scandal headlines and editorials be enough.

Thomas Gallant

Waldoboro, Maine

The Repercussions

Just think if this [woman] were a foreign agent, Clinton could have given the country's top secrets away just to save his own hide. How could he even think of letting himself get in a spot like this? He is definitely not a leader we need at the helm. He is dragging us all down.

Herbert H. Whitehouse

Coarsegold, Calif.

Of all the hats Clinton wears as president, the most significant is "commander in chief" of the US military. Clinton himself raised this issue Aug. 17 when he spoke of having to get back to work on important matters like national security.

Does anyone realize how long military leaders would last if they were [involved] with their young women underlings? Perhaps they do not go to jail - but they are [sent away].

When Clinton orders our fellow Americans into conflict, would you trust him if you were a soldier?

Tord Svenson


My mother used to say, "The fact that you lied to me is not as disturbing to me as the fact that from now on I will not be able to believe anything you say."

Chris Stewart

Underwood, Wash.

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