Valley reacts to president’s speech
The reactions of Carson Valley residents – both Democrats and Republicans – to President Clinton’s Monday night speech acknowledging an inappropriate relationship with then-21-year-old intern Monica Lewinsky, seem to have more in common than in disagreement.
Republican Jacques Etchegoyhen, chairman of the Douglas County commissioners, said his reaction to the president’s speech was more personal than a mere party-line response.
“The president’s behavior doesn’t hurt me so much as a politician as it embarrasses me as a gentleman,” Etchegoyhen said. “Even as a little county commissioner, I feel there are standards of behavior we should respect.”
Etchegoyhen said that while life goes on, the president’s behavior – particularly his confession on Monday – may indicate a new phase of the Clinton presidency.
“I kind of assumed he was moving into the lame duck part of his presidency and this proves it,” Etchegoyhen said. “He’s probably going to fade from now on.”
Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Nev, in the midst of his rural Nevada tour, said he thought the president’s objectives in his speech were twofold:
“I think he wanted to formally acknowledge what we had suspected – that he had an improper relationship with Monica Lewinsky,” Bryan said Tuesday from Las Vegas.
“Secondly, I think he was trying to get it all behind him, but he was less than contrite and a bit too confrontational with his critics, so he may not have achieved this second goal.”
Bryan said he joined most Americans in their disappointment with President Clinton’s conduct,
“But, I don’t think the majority of Americans want to plunge the country into an impeachment process,” he said.
Asked whether he though the president’s confession would hurt democratic candidates in this year’s elections, Bryan said the greatest negative effect might be in lowering voter turnout.
“The effect may be more indirect, since voter turnout has been declining and whenever you have a low turnout, it hurts our candidates,” Bryan said.
n Why wait so long? Cheryl Bricker, an occupational teacher in the counseling department at Douglas High School, who didn’t vote for President Clinton at the last election, said she thinks that since he does live “in a fishbowl,” he shouldn’t be surprised at getting caught and at the reaction people are having to him now.
“What bothers me the most is, why couldn’t he have admitted this way back in January and saved the taxpayers a lot of money?” she said.
Bricker said that she didn’t think Clinton should be impeached as a result of his confession.
“They will need a lot more evidence to impeach him,” she said.
Democrat Constance Alexander, coordinator of technical services at the Douglas County library, Minden branch, said she didn’t watch Monday’s speech, and only read a few paragraphs describing it in the morning newspaper, but she added that she’d given the matter much thought in recent months.
“I do have a lot of sympathy for Monica Lewinsky because she’s so young,” Alexander said. “I think it would be very difficult to be around power and not be attracted to it. From what I’ve read about her, Monica seemed to respond to attention. I don’t have any sympathy for Linda Tripp, though. I think what she did was to try and get Clinton.”
Alexander said her reaction to the scandal is more along the international line.
“There, they’re saying, ‘OK, that’s what powerful men do.’ I think Jimmy Carter may have been the only American president to (be faithful),” she said.
As for impeachment, Alexander said that even though the president should not have done what he did, impeachment was not an appropriate action.
n Same standards should apply. Beverly Willard, chairman of the Republican Central Committee, said she feels the worst about the fact that President Clinton, as the armed forces commander in chief, should be held to the same standards as other military personnel.
“Look at all the great military men and women who have had to leave the service recently for lesser offenses than what he did,” she said. “He holds the highest office in the nation and says he should have a private life, but I don’t think so. If he is supposed to be the commander in chief, shouldn’t he be held to the same standard as his officers? I think it’s a shame we’re the laughingstock of the world.”
Willard said she wouldn’t necessarily opt for impeachment.
“I’d hate to put Congress through an impeachment process right now, especially during an election year. It would be a mess,” she said. “If Clinton was any kind of a man, he’d resign.”
Gardnerville attorney Todd Young, a democrat, said that he feels the president has some self control problems, but added that anyone who aspires to the presidency may have some ego issues anyway.
“Clearly, President Clinton is not able to control his sexual urges and Kenneth Starr is unable to control his political urges,” Young said. “His (Clinton’s) relationship with his wife is his own business, but he’s caused a great deal of hurt to his family and to his friends and supporters.”
Young said that while he doesn’t necessarily look for a moral leader in a president, he does feel we have unreasonable expectations of our leaders.
“In a way, any person who thinks he’s the right one to be the leader of the free world has some ego problems already, but we don’t expect them to tell big, whopping lies.”
n Professorial reaction. Ted Conover, retired professor of journalism at University of Nevada, Reno, who calls himself an “eastern” republican, (“we’re more liberal than the republicans I’ve seen out West”), said what really puzzles him is the fact that President Clinton is such a brilliant man, educated at Oxford with a law degree from Yale, and did such a stupid thing.
“I can’t really understand what must have been going on in his head at the time,” Conover said. “Here’s someone who has it all and risks it just like that. I guess I feel like James Carville (Clinton’s campaign manager for his 1992 election to the Presidency), who said ‘Clinton should spend his vacation in the woodshed.'”
Conover said one of the biggest shames is that President Clinton, with so many talents and abilities, has ultimately degraded the office of president.
“That is something which will be felt for a long time, I think,” he said.
As a journalist since the age of 23, Conover said he sees the intense competition between television stations to get something – anything – on TV for the evening news, as one of the trends in today’s journalism that troubles him.
“They’re using unverified sources,” he said. “They say things like, ‘Sources, say…’ We wouldn’t think of doing that. It’s a nasty business.”
Conover, who at one time owned five newspapers in Ohio, said journalists in the past were more respectful of president’s private lives. For this reason, sexual dalliances by past presidents were not commonly written about.
Should Clinton be impeached?
“I doubt it,” Conover said.
Should he resign?
“I don’t know if he’s the type of person who would do that,” he replied.
Conover said he attended his daughter’s college graduation at Portland State University in June, where President Clinton was the keynote speaker.
“When the word got out that he was going to be speaking, the demand for tickets was so great that they had to move it to another location and there were 14,000 people in attendance,” he said. “It was my first time seeing him speak live and I have never seen a person grab an audience and have them eating out of his hand. He was impressive.”
Gary Johnson, a registered Republican who said he votes the candidate, not the party, said he feels the president’s confession was a poor attempt to be honest and instead projected much of the blame for his actions onto other people rather than accepting responsibility himself.
Johnson, pastor of the Carson Valley Church of the Nazarene, said that while the Monica Lewinsky issue may not be an impeachable offense for the president, other issues such as illegal fundraising, for example, might be more to that end.
“I don’t think it’s over, I think a lot more is going to come out,” he said.
“It’s not for me to judge, though.”
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