THE WORDS OF BILL CLINTON; It's Plain That the President Should Resign and Spare the Country the Agony of Impeachment and Removal

By Hall, Maggie | Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland), September 13, 1998 | Go to article overview

THE WORDS OF BILL CLINTON; It's Plain That the President Should Resign and Spare the Country the Agony of Impeachment and Removal


Hall, Maggie, Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)


Bill Clinton's past deeds have come back to haunt him in the shape of sex honeypot Monica Lewinsky.

And now his past words are coming back to haunt him, too - in the shape of what he said about another disgraced president.

Asked to comment in August 1974, at the height of the Watergate scandal, on whether Richard Nixon should quit or be impeached, po-faced Clinton said:

"I think it's plain that the President should resign and spare the country the agony of impeachment and removal proceedings.

"I think the country could be spared a lot of agony and the Government could worry about inflation and other problems if he'd go and resign."

Clinton said this when he was a 28-year-old law professor at Arkansas University and a young Democratic hopeful for the House of Representatives.

But now, 24 years later, the President is ignoring his own very good advice.

And last night the fate of disgraced Clinton lay largely in the hands of the American people - and his wife, Hillary.

Congress has said it will be guided in its decision on whether to start impeachment proceedings by the public opinion polls.

Last night, the President and his remaining loyal workers slogged late into the night, struggling to stop the whole house of cards collapsing down on them.

One of the major plans is to try and persuade the deeply humiliated First Lady to, yet again, stage a nation- wide TV plea to save her husband from political destruction. Until the publication of the sexually- explicit report from the Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, the dominant feeling was that the country didn't care about his relationship with Monica Lewsinsky.

YET the mood over the Monica affair has changed dramatically. The nation was left shuddering with revulsion.

As millions absorbed the lurid content of the 445-page report - many commented it read like a trashy sex novel - the White House raced to put out its carefully- crafted Clinton-saving spin.

It knew that the more the details of the President's sordid sexual antics in the Oval Office were digested, the louder the demand for him to quit - or be pushed - would grow.

In response to the public shock, Clintonites are being urgently drafted into crisis- control action. All of today's influential TV political chat shows - they number at least six - will be jammed with pro- Clinton aides, congressmen and political personalties.

The task of all these "talking heads" will be to try to convince the repulsed electorate that, while Clinton might be guilty of sinning, he has not committed a crime.

They will hammer home that in Starr's report, sex is mentioned 500 times in salacious detail.

Yet Whitewater, the failed Arkansas land deal that triggered the investigation, figures TWICE.

The White House logic is that the President should pay only a personal price - not be punished by impeachment.

If Mrs Clinton can be persuaded to subject herself to a TV interview, the message she would drive home is that if she can forgive her husband and cope with his Oval Office misconduct, then so should everyone else.

Despite the explosive Starr report - which sent shock waves around the nation - Clinton made a self- assured public appearance just hours after its release. …

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