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Editorial: WHAT WE SAY

L’Observateur / April 6, 1998

The long, national nightmare of President Clinton’s alleged misadventures among the opposite sex is far from over. However, a milestone in the roadback to normalcy was reached with the dismissal of the Paula Jones case in federal court.

The shameful case was one where nobody was a winner. Democrats whosupport Clinton lived in dread the allegations may be true. Republicanswho did not felt the shame of having a chief executive who hardly behaved presidential.

Clinton, at the time of his “victory” in court, was in Africa, trying to be presidential, a talent which eludes him at home. In his final years aspresident Clinton still seeks to be remembered for positive accomplishments, not for shady allegations.

The trip to Africa was one overdue for decades. For too long so-called”Third World” nations felt like pawns in the global chess game between Us and Them during the Cold War. Clinton hopes this trip will do for him whatNixon’s visit to China did for that embattled president.

Jones’ appeals may continue, but the denouement may not come until after Clinton leaves the White House and it won’t matter so much to the national media. Meanwhile, Kenneth Starr’s investigation continuesunabated, and that will keep Starr’s name on the front pages for months to come.

All this is shaping up into a 2000 presidential campaign which will be founded more and more on character issues rather than resumes. In thepast, presidential shortcomings were either swept under the rug or not considered important enough to bother with.

And what happens to the Paula Joneses and the Monica Lewinskys should Clinton somehow elude Starr’s vendetta? The inevitable talk shows, publicity tours, book deals and TV-movies will follow. Don’t be surprisedif Monica makes an appearance at the Republican National Convention.

Such months-long Congressional investigations are a national nightmare for friends and opponents of the accused. Unfortunately, some will actsmug at the outcome and that’s not good. This is a situation where thereare no winners. Everyone loses. Clinton has not won. His personalreputation remains tarnished, and this may well blot the record of his presidential achievements and fix his place in history as the embarrassing president who came between the Reagan-Bush years and whoever succeeds him.

Without the trial in the Paula Jones case, Clinton has missed his opportunity to salvage his reputation and vindicate his personal history.

Without the trial, we will be subjected to endless speculation about what would have happened or what might have happened with nothing ever proven, one way or the other.

Presidents have always been personally concerned with their place in history. Each wants to be remembered for accomplishments and influencespanning the globe, affecting generations to come. The benchmark in thisis perhaps Franklin Roosevelt, whose achievements and influence is still affecting mankind, here and abroad.

Clinton is no Roosevelt. He could still be a Truman, though, and let thebuck stop with him.

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