There are times when I come across television dramas so poorly written that they are farcical. I am forced to laugh and ask, "Could this be any more ridiculous?"
It is not often, however, that these dramas have the historical significance of a presidential impeachment. But if there were an award for the absurd, the Clinton proceedings could sweep the competition.
From the beginning, the drama seemed sadly ludicrous. We are the world's last remaining superpower, and our government has nothing better to do than ask the President how he spends his free moments? At a time when we were bombing another country, facing potential economic difficulties due to the impending introduction of the euro, and rapidly approaching the deadline for a solution to the Y2K problem, our House of Representatives was voting on whether or not the President should be put on trial for alleged crimes devoid of significant impact on the American people. "Misconduct," they call it, "Inappropriate relations." Granted, Clinton's behavior was disrespectful to his wife and repugnant to the American people's sense of morality. I don't, however, see those incidents as crimes, much less high crimes, making the fact that the President was ever in a situation where he could perjure himself about them seem insane.
Unfortunately, my laughter rings hollow; the implications this trial has on the nature of the government that will be legislating my life are serious ones.
Clinton is a man whom my peers and I still see as a very competent and capable leader, despite some mistakes in his personal affairs. It is thanks to his leadership that our teenage years have been spent happily in the midst of a booming economy and safer streets. If the Republicans succeed in removing such an effective leader from office on this flimsy pretext, the entire system of checks and balances will be made meaningless. No President will veto poor legislation if he thinks unhappy Congressmen will be able to get together and give him the boot for it.
Even more disturbing is the idea that the government has stopped representing the people. I would like to think that, when I turn 18, my vote will mean something and that the legislators whom I put in office will shape a government that represents me. But when an impeachment trial proceeds while a Gallup poll indicates that 70% of the people don't want the President impeached, I begin to wonder.
In the end, if the Clinton trial really were a television drama, I'd ask the networks to cancel it.
--Neela Mookerjee, Flemington, NJ
I haven't figured out exactly how I feel about President Clinton, but the impeachment trial has helped me think about government and leadership.
President Clinton lied under oath and therefore committed perjury. But I think there is something slightly "off" about our launching a full-scale impeachment inquiry into whether or not he lied about sex in a case which was dismissed for inadequate grounds.
I do believe, however, that there should be an impeachment trial, now that Congress voted to impeach President Clinton. Officials have been impeached, tried and removed from office in the past for perjury, and even for drunkenness. So, there is certainly support for impeachment for perjury and for crimes and misdemeanors that might not appear, at the first, as serious.
Some people say this impeachment proceeding has been brought as a solely partisan agenda. However, the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson 130 years ago was brought about by partisan efforts. So, precedence for this kind of trial, even if partisan, has been set by previous Congresses.
That said, I wonder if an inquiry under the present circumstances is justified. After the Civil War, our entire country was trying to put itself back together after years of bloodshed and division. President Johnson was not able to adequately guide our new nation upon a path of healing as most Americans believed necessary. It was essential at that time to have a strong, effective leader who inspired the people.
Today, we live in relative prosperity and peace, with a booming economy and low unemployment. There is no Mason-Dixon Line splitting our country's political and ideological beliefs. I believe that the circumstances surrounding President Clinton's impeachment are not what our Founding Fathers had in mind when they included impeachment as one of the Congress's "checks" on the power of the Executive branch.
However, I don't speak for all teens. One person I interviewed said that Clinton "doesn't have the morals to be a good president." Another said, "Well, if we can't trust the guy who's in office, who can we trust?" And still another said, "people will trust presidents less now; teenagers don't have faith in the system."
Either way, Americans certainly are getting an in-depth lesson in civics and we are learning to really think about the quality of our leaders. Perhaps in the next election, our President will be someone whose past is clean and whose present is spotless.
Morals in the White House? You never know. Let's keep our fingers crossed.
--Heather Jones, Richardson, TX
Lately, when you turn on the television, all you see is news about the Clinton impeachment trial. I channel surf, only to see that each channel is discussing the same topic.
Sure, it may be a historical event, but Americans are overwhelmed by the extensive media coverage to the point where they have stopped paying attention. Congress should have worked to keep the case behind closed doors, instead of allowing it to turn into a media frenzy.
Now, the trial is being taken as a joke. Shows such as Saturday Night Live, and The Tonight Show have skits that ridicule the circumstances surrounding the impeachment trial. Oversexed Clinton and Monica look-a-likes and the dancing Monica's are regular nightly entertainment. A mockery is being made of the United States government, which the people worked hard to shape into a powerful democracy.
Congress is destroying not only our national integrity, but also the ideas stated in the Constitution. The creators of the Constitution most certainly did not intend for impeachment to be used for "inappropriate relations" or having "extramarital affairs." Republicans say that the trial is about perjury and obstruction of justice. However, most men in President Clinton's position would probably not admit to having an extramarital affair. Republicans have taken advantage of this fact, seeing the perfect opportunity to expose Clinton's weaknesses. Ironically, some of these same accusers are guilty of extramarital affairs themselves.
Presidential impeachment should only be used for high crimes against the nation, not for personal, unacceptable acts. Congress has dragged out the trial too long, wasting the taxpayer's money and time. This is maddening even though I am not yet a taxpayer.
Hopefully, this trial will serve as a lesson for future generations. High school textbooks in the year 2010 will tell the sad story of the trial and how Congress ravaged our government with its bipartisan antics. The trial will be known as one of the worst blunders in all of United States history.
--Emily Judson, Flemington, NJ
With the progression of the impeachment trial, everyone seems to have his or her own view of the outcome. I think it would be better for the country if President Clinton were removed.
This sexual scandal has made a joke of the Presidency and shadowed the reputation of the United States. His thoughtlessness in this situation has shown that role models can disappoint us and dash our expectations.
Most importantly, our President lied under oath and to the nation at large about his affairs. He was repeatedly dishonest to the public about his actions and involvements with many women.
The fact that Bill Clinton entertained women and had some form of sexual act with them angers and disgusts many Americans. Men and women throughout the nation are upset by the fact that they may lose their job or position by engaging in an extramarital affair on the job, but it may be perfectly acceptable for the President.
We do not want his actions to become the rule instead of the exception. If we do not remove this president, future presidents may feel that they can use the White House for entertaining lovers without jeopardizing their position.
The seriousness of these events will not go unnoticed by any one in the days and weeks to come. This trial is historical and meaningful to our nation's future. Can we as a people accept the deception that our President has offered?
I sincerely hope not.
My challenge for everyone is to examine his beliefs and judge the actions of Bill Clinton for his or her self.
--Gretchen Jackson, Uniontown, KS
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