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Wednesday, January 6, 1999

Even to ruminate out loud about Clinton, Starr, Lewinsky, etc. is to venture into a minefield of reactions. I discovered that at my tennis club. It is even risky at my church.

Even to ruminate out loud about Clinton, Starr, Lewinsky, etc. is to venture into a minefield of reactions. I discovered that at my tennis club. It is even risky at my church.

The furthest I went last Sunday was to get agreement from another English member of the congregation that if this were England Clinton would have been long gone from office. But then a parliamentary system and more of a tradition of political resignation makes this course easier. Not having a vote, not being party political in my thinking, I have as a foreigner on the whole kept out of contentious matters. As the old song says, "You can't go to prison for what you're thinking."

Is it possible to talk about some of the issues without being or appearing partisan? I don't know. Let me try. Certainly, the next few days will be difficult ones for those who love this country as the Senate faces up to its responsibilities in what respected Senator Robert Byrd calls "this serious and solemn matter." He says that a study of precedent going back into English history, from which the concept of impeachment stems, makes it clear that there is no specific definition that can be relied on. He says that Hamilton in Federalist Essay 65 says that impeachable offenses, are those which proceed from the misconduct of public men, in other words, he says, where there is abuse or violation of the public trust. There must be few people, even the most extreme, who would relish a long drawnout who said what when and who touched what when argument in the Senate. Frankly, I wouldn't like to be a Senator having to act as a juror, trying to sort out which is dictating his or her actions, public opinion polls or conscience. I am a believer in bipartisanship wherever possible. Frankly, I think we have seen as much partisanship from Democrats as from Republicans. It would seem to me that the Democratic pep rally after the impeachment vote and after all the things many of those same Democrats had said about Clinton was unseemly. I believe that it is not beyond the wit of some of these brilliant men and women in Congress to find a way to introduce censure without letting Clinton be excused his actions or alternatively to have a short trial that is adequate and fair to Clinton and doesn't further distract from the business of the nation or allow the public to wallow in voyeurism.

I believe that you can resent intrusion into private affairs and deplore the excessive exploitation of the independent counsel statute and still believe that the way a person behaves in sexual matters is a good guide to their character. A wise teacher friend of mine used to say, "Character is what you do in the dark." I believe that you can be forgiving, understanding, compassionate and still accept that actions have consequences. I believe that you can admire aspects of the work and commitment of Bill and Hillary without voting them your most admired people. After all that their own party leaders have said about them and Bill has said about himself, such an accolade says more about the discernment of the average poll respondent than about our leaders. I do not believe that being president is the only way to serve one's country. Finally, I try hard to believe that those who do not share my views are as honorable as those who do! (KBOO January 7)