The Presidency: It’s time for the nation to let go of Monica

In recent months, America has been embroiled in a scandal of seemingly great significance. A sexual liaison and a lie about it have come to dominate the American political dialogue. Although none of this would have happened, had the President and Ms. Lewinsky tamed their loins, it is the uproar over “zippergate” that is damaging and weakening America in more ways than we may know. The obsession of the President’s enemies with this issue has for now rendered our government disabled and is weakening us in the long term. The institution of the presidency and our prestige in the world have also been dealt severe blows.

Those who are obsessed with a matter as infinitesimal as the Lewinsky affair, most notably the press and the conservatives in Congress, should be ashamed for the damage they are inflicting on our country.

Although I never have held President Clinton in high regard and I am repelled by his sexual relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, I believe it is unnecessary to destroy Clinton’s presidency over such an insignificant issue. Yes, President Clinton’s relationship with an intern half his age was improper, and at least in my eyes, immoral. However, it does not warrant the hype that it has received.

The alleged charges of perjury and obstruction of justice are understandable because President Clinton is not alone in being one to lie about sex, something that occurs in households around the world. The President’s private behaviour does not concern the public, nor is it significant enough to justify impeachment. As a result of the right–wing’s obsession with this issue, the presidency and the international stature of the United States have been weakened; meanwhile, we are ignoring many issues of greater importance.

The current uproar over this matter is the latest in a long series of concerted attacks from conservatives who have always intensely disliked the Clintons. Out of pure hatred, many in Congress would do anything to bring Clinton down. For instance, why was it necessary for Congress to release the explicit details of the Starr report? Why does the Republican majority want to release Clinton’s video testimony? These constitute private information that in any other legal case would not be in the public domain; it is obvious that the congressional majority wants to ruin Bill Clinton.

This scandal also threatens the institution of the presidency and the very fabric of American democracy itself. As a result of the many legal skirmishes between Clinton and Starr, the circle of presidential legal confidants has been reduced to paid lawyers, thus eroding the ability for future presidents to govern effectively. Now that the President’s foes have created an atmosphere similar to the Inquisition in Washington, must we now expect our leaders to maintain cadres of private lawyers at enormous expense to themselves? Do we expect good, decent people, to take this risk and enter political life? Not only have our political institutions been scarred, our image and power on the global stage have also suffered. To the world, we look as if we are immature and lack the will to address today’s pressing problems. Because the media and Congress have put this issue at the forefront of America’s political agenda, we are ignoring the many true problems that we must address, such as the impending global economic crisis, education and entitlement reform and the ever-increasing divide between the haves and have-nots in our society.

Fellatio in the Oval Office is not an issue of national concern. Do we honestly think that a sexual relationship and a lie about it are impeachable offenses? Is it worth putting America through months of paralyzing impeachment hearings? Must we put Hillary and Chelsea through this? This whole matter has assaulted and diminished the institution of the presidency, ruined the lives of a family and damaged America’s presence in the world.

So, for the good of the country, Congress must not drag this whole issue out in a long series of damaging impeachment hearings, but must rather close the issue once and for all.

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