Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Clinton, Too, Has a Teflon Coating

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Clinton, Too, Has a Teflon Coating

Article excerpt

If the president is in any real trouble over Paula Jones, campaign financing, or what Kenneth Starr is digging up, you don't get even a hint of this when you go out and listen to the voters.

I was on vacation in Idaho and Oregon in August. So I didn't have a notebook in hand. But I was listening.

Many people seem to be shrugging their shoulders over what they see as a president whose conduct is often explained as, "Like us - he's human." Others who see their president as being immoral in his private life are not at all forgiving. But they think Bill Clinton is too elusive to be caught. They point to Mr. Clinton's proven record - during the 1992 campaign - of being able to evade his accusers. And they conclude that if he could survive the Gennifer Flowers and draft-dodging allegations back then, he is pretty much scandal-resistant. In one group I was in, the people were clearly opposed to what they saw as Clinton's personal misconduct. However, one of the women spoke up in his defense with this comment: "But it's good to have a president who is highly intelligent." She obviously thought that Reagan or Bush hadn't measured up to that requirement. At a fast-food restaurant I asked the woman behind the counter what she thought of Clinton: "He's a neat guy," she said. Her assessment didn't go beyond the president's appearance and personality. In another Western setting I heard a group of businessmen discussing Clinton. All were talking critically of him. But the tone was jocular. These conversations were typical. Most people rather liked Clinton. But even among his critics there was no hatred, no anger. There was nothing even close to the wrath that welled up among the populace when Watergate was unfolding. When I returned home, I had a letter from the mother of a Republican congressman waiting for me. She is no fan of Clinton's. …

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