Monica Fails to Excite Voters - or So They Say
Gumbel, Andrew, The Independent (London, England)
IF MONICA LEWINSKY and the impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton were to have any impact on next month's US elections, then surely they would be felt under the shadow of the Rocky Mountains in Boulder, Colorado.
The state's Second Congressional District has been a solid seat for the Democrats since 1974 - the year that the Republican Richard Nixon pre- empted his own impeachment by resigning. All of a sudden, it has become one of the most hotly contested races in the country, with neither the Democrat, Mark Udall, nor the Republican, Bob Greenlee, daring to predict victory.
Is this the "Monica effect" - the fall-out from a Democratic president who, to believe the pundits on Capitol Hill, has lost both credibility and the trust of the electorate? Actually, no. There are plenty of reasons why Messrs Udall and Greenlee are fighting down to the last vote, but the Lewinsky scandal categorically is not one of them. It is not mentioned in the campaign literature, it has not featured in television adverts, and just about the only time it comes up on the stump is when a journalist asks about it. "People are tired of what's going on in Washington," explained Mr Udall. "If anything, the scandal has pushed us to run a more locally based campaign because everyone in DC is too distracted to talk about the issues." Sean Murphy, Mr Greenlee's campaign manager, agreed: "People seem to have a voyeuristic interest in following the scandal in the media, but they've made it clear they don't want their political leaders to talk about it." An election widely interpreted as a plebiscite on Mr Clinton's political future is thus turning out to be a good old-fashioned contest over the issues closest to voters' hearts: underfunding and overcrowding in the public school system, tackling the abuses in health care provision, the merits of taxation versus social security spending, and that evergreen American political issue - whether or not to limit abortion rights. This being Colorado, environmental protection is also a big concern, particularly since the economy and the population are both growing at a cracking rate and property developers are quickly transforming vast tracts of farmland into suburban housing. …