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Wednesday, August 19, 1998 Published at 14:45 GMT 15:45 UK


World: Americas

Should he stay or should he go? Your reaction

Read all about it: An Israeli man takes in details of the testimony

It takes more than a man and a politician to apologize to the whole world. Those who are saying he did not go far enough, probably wanted the president of the most powerful country in the world to go down on his knees. I think Clinton did what he could reasonably do under the circumstances. I believe Clinton has the right to claim his individual respect, dignity and privacy even if his presidency has been robbed of these.
Bassey Ben Etuk., Columbus, Ohio- US

I am amazed that our country, with all of the other social problems we face, can make such a big deal over someone's sexual and/or marital affairs. If there is any concern for our country, let it be...1) Our homeless population. 2) The outrageous taxes that are placed on our citizens. 3) The problem of our children killing each other and themselves with guns and drugs. Our President has addressed several of these issues and I would like to see him get back to these IMPORTANT issues. What Clinton did was WRONG but what business do we have getting involved. It is up to his wife to determine the punishment for the commitment he made in marriage vows - he did not make THAT promise to our country. He promised the citizens of the United States to protect this country and make sound decisions on the issues of our country. The women that have said that they had sex with the president did so WILLINGLY. I am only concerned if he raped these ladies or negatively used his position to force himself upon them (something of a more criminal nature). Iraq must be loving the wild media and political uproar. I have heard more about sex than I have about the refusal to have weapons inspectors do the job assigned to them to protect us all. Now isn't that just a little frightening to know where our priorities are placed? I am more embarrassed by our citizens than I am of Clinton. Who runs this country anyway? I thought it was "We the People". Stop wasting our time and our hard earned tax dollars on this matter.
Brenda Latty, USA

Mr. Clinton should be thrown out of office immediately. He is a disgrace to the office, but paradoxically, he is just what the American people deserve. England and Europe take heed. Keep your culture safe and don't let it be cheapened by uncontrolled immigration. America is now paying the price from the social breakdown of the 1960s, as well as the insidious ruin of American children by the leftist public (state) school system. Clinton would not now exist without this legacy over the past 30 years.
Pete Caneer, United States

The President's judgement in having a relationship with a woman who does not wash her clothing is certainly suspect, but at least he had the sense to stop. If his wife can put up with him, who are we to complain? And how many middle-aged men in stressful jobs would hold out successfully against a pretty, naive and eccentric dollybird? The media is having one of its periodic spasms of self-righteousness, the public is largely bored, and the USA needs a competent Head of State - which Clinton seems to be. Let him get on with the job.
(Mrs) Deborah Hubbard, Vista University, Pretoria, South Africa

It is fascinating to see the different atitudes to such stories from one generation to the next. I remember when the U.S. media made a big deal about New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Presidents Eisenhower and Richard Nixon having bedrooms apart from their respective spouses. This apparently was deemed newsworthy. We have had the experience of John F. Kennedy - and the media reported it not. Is there a political reason for all this since one political party is subjected to such scrutiny while another is somehow overlooked or forgiven? There has been much mention of the money spent on this which so far comes to about $40 million. It is rare when the spending of money in Washington becomes a hot topic. One caller to CNN mentioned the money spent when divided amongst our citizens comes to 50 cents each and he said, "I got my half-bucks worlth."
Stephen Black

Why are Americans so hung up about moral values in their politicians? What does it matter if a public figure has an unorthodox private life, if it does not affect his or her public duties? I really can't see what impact Clinton's inability to keep his trousers on has on his ability to govern. What I can't understand is why the people of the USA think that a president, elected for a limited period as a result largely of personal wealth and financial donations, rather than an ability which places them head and shoulders above the rest, should suddenly become a great moral and religious leader. By nature, politicians and morality do not sit comfortably together. Who cares what he and Ms Lewinsky did together behind closed doors? Look at Jack Kennedy, one of the most popular presidents ever. LBJ was no saint. Reagan was considered a bumbling fool (Remember The President's Brain is Missing?). Come on, America. This is the twentieth century, for goodness sake - leave the man and his poor wife and daughter to sort themselves out in peace, and stop moralising!
Lesley Andrews, UK citizen in Toronto, Canada

It seems that this is one of those rare instances where the majority of Americans, Democrats and Republicans alike, share the same sentiments. What Bill Clinton did was wrong. He lied to his country. But don't most human beings, when first questioned about extra-marital affairs, lie? Of course they do. But the big difference here is that while most of these people are only facing an angry spouse, Bill Clinton was facing his wife, a rabid Ken Starr, and a relentless media ready to air his dirty laundry througout the world. My point is this: Why was Bill Clinton ever put in this situation in the first place? The President of the United States is just as deserving of a private life as the next man. His actions are PERSONAL failings. As an American (and a registered Republican), do I feel betrayed by the President? Absolutely NOT! I feel betrayed by the Republican party. They have shown over the past several years that serious national issues such as healthcare, the economy, and education are secondary when trying to win an election. Instead, they prefer to stand on the holier-than-thou pedestal with their warped perception of what the American people care about. "Abortion is murder", "Maybe our children should pray in school", and now "Look at what a lying sexual deviant the Democratic president turned out to be." The Republicans are shooting themselves in the foot with a 44-million caliber hired gun by the name of Ken Starr.
Evan S, USA

We Americans speak as if we cannot even spell the word sex. Possibly in the year 2000 we should look for two presidential candidates who are eunuch orphans,
Since President Clinton entered public life in Arkansas he has attracted enemies who have tried every, and I stress, every means to descredit him and or to remove him from any office he held. They never scored until they got him on sex.
It is unfortunate that we have had two presidents in the most recent past who had the brains and ability to enter the list of great presidents; to move us to a better, fairer, more democratic nation. One, Richard Nixon, kicked away his opportunity away because of his intense hatreds and jealousies. Mr. Clinton kicked his away because he couldn't discipline his sexual indulgences.
President Clinton's enemies have had their "victory." To hear them this evening they want more; I would guess something akin to a "burning at the stake" a "beheading in the public square."
Our danger is not in retaining the President in office but engaging in a swarmy beating up on Mr. Clinton.
And, sorriest of all, we no longer have a responsible fourth estate; we have ratings-driven media which no longer enlighten. For eight months we've had 24 hours a day of sexual titilation, with more of the same media stench to come.
Catherine D. Hayes, Rochester, NY. USA

I am very angry with our President for being so reckless and stupid, and particularly with such a spoiled, foolish, self-absorbed little miss as Monica Lewinsky. But even more appalling is Kenneth Starr's obsessive, self-righteous pursuit.
This politically-motivated trial-by-newspaper of the president began four or five years ago and has continued unremittingly. Whitewater. Vince Foster. "Travelgate." Paula Jones. Anything and everything that could be investigated has been investigated, and the Lewinsky affair is the only thing found to actually have any merit.
The press has behaved particularly badly and I am sick of all of them. I don't want to hear their interpretation of what was said. I don't want to read their opinions on what it means.
This is a sad day for our country on many levels and I'd like to close the door on it and let Clinton serve out his term. He will be punished enough by the knowledge of how badly he blew it.
Gayle Stamler, Silver Spring, MD, USA

As an ex-pat, I watched the president's address and the reaction to it last night with a mixture of disbelief and fascination. What a miserable, beguiling spectacle! Which in the end seems like it didn't make much difference anyway.
The most telling comment in the news analysis that followed was not the string of conservatives who were eager to expand their criticism and deepen their attacks, but the reporter who remarked that the speech was very lawyer-ly, rather than the one from the heart which many had expected.
A lawyer-ly speech may be appropriate in light of the legal situation faced by the president but it was not the approach to take with the public. People don't trust lawyers. Especially in America. Never have, never will. If there's one way to come off sounding shifty and evasive, talking in legalese is an excellent way to go.
The speech changed very little and the aggressive attack on Ken Starr and his investigation foolishly handed a full round of live ammunition to Republicans in Congress who must now decide what to do with Starr's forthcoming impeachment report.
With the November elections very much on everyone's mind it is highly unlikely that Republicans will seriously pursue impeachment but Clinton should have known that and tempered his approach accordingly. His failure to seem sufficiently contrite, especially for the string of lies he fed to the public as well as some of his closest Cabinet members and staff, only seems to have confirmed people's worst suspicions of his character.
Although this confirmation appears trivial and will likely change little for the president on the domestic front, we should all be concerned about his ability to deal with the string of recent foreign policy crises - and especially Saddam Hussein who has not been reluctant to capitalize on Clinton's various crises and engage in opportunistic and dangerous brinksmanship with the international community on previous occassions.
Clinton is now in a twilight zone of sorts between legitimacy and disgrace where the nature of the offense is not serious enough to warrant impeachment yet damning enough to warrant a serious loss of credibility, especially in foreign policy where most Americans are unlikely to notice it or to care.
Fiona Wright, Gainesville, Florida

I feel very strongly, and I am sure that I am not alone in thinking this, that this personal persecution of the President by Kenneth Star and his following should stop now. Clinton has admitted that he was wrong and apologized and I whole-heartedly agree that his personal life should be between him and his family. He seems to be doing a fine job of running the country right now and he should be allowed to continue to do so in peace. Bill Clinton is not the first man in the history of the Earth to have an adulterous affair with someone at work, and he certainly won't be the last as the good Lord himself once said "Let he that is without sin cast the first stone". How many of us could stand up to such personal scrutiny without finding a few skeletons in the closet?
Emma Read, Newburyport, MA USA

I would like for people outside the US to understand a few things about our government. We elect a man from among us and place him in office. He is no more important than us or should be treated any different under the law. He is not a monarch. He is not a dictator. He is subject to every law.
Perjury is prosecuted in the US. The fact that this investigation will continue, demonstrates that this is not about sex. No one cares about his sex life. We care that a sitting president has lied under oath. If he is given a pass, this will set a precedent for future presidents.
Yes, we are a free nation, but with freedom comes responsibility. He must be held accountable for lying in the court of law. We expect a lot from our leaders. Their integrity should be beyond reproach. We will not tolerate perjury. If he is willing to lie about something as small as sex, then who knows about what else he will lie?
Daniel Brown, Nashville, TN USA

I agree with most people that his private life should remain just that. But Clinton actually went on live TV, looked America in the eye and lied. That I don't think should be forgiven and he should go.
K.Doran, England

For as long as I can remember, Americans have expressed the desire to have little or no governmental interference into their personal lives. Has that changed? I don't think so. I must admit that I am troubled by the public's seeming willingness to allow the pundits to think for it.
Have we regressed to the point that we are willing to acquiesce while this ridiculous witchhunt continues? Who will be the next Prescott Bush with courage enough to stand up and denounce this mockery of an investigation?
Kenneth Starr's investigation has done little except make him and his cronies richer. What on Earth has he done that warranted spending (or, in my opinion, wasting) over 40 million dollars. C'mon, we must admit that this is "much ado about nothing."
By the way, is anyone paying attention to Congress? That is where our greatest interest and concerns should rest.
Cheryl Herrington, USA

My people have a saying that seems to say that "The humiliation of a prominent person is much more than killing him." It is not easy for anyone to come out publicly to do what he did. I think he should be forgiven and allowed time to focus on his job as president. N.B. I am neither an American nor white but this is my humble opinion.
Jude Ogbenna

When living in England in the 60s, I was impressed with how British media reporting on events in the U.S. kept them in perspective. It has lost some of its discretion since then. American tax payers, sadly, have been handed a bill for $40+ to learn two consenting adults had sex in the Whitehouse.
John Mackey

The so-called inappropriate relationship with Miss Lewinsky has little to do with the responsibilities of the President; as long as the president is not involved in any criminal or constitution violating matters and as long as he properly fulfils his presidential responsibilities is he doing his job well. The public is getting more and more perverse in the matters of private life of well known people like presidents, film stars, royal families. People are getting excited when they get a chance to judge an official for his human weaknesses, but they never think of how they would feel if their private matters would become widely accessible for public discussions and judgements. Is that really so important for the world politics if the president did or did not? I think it is not.
Dmitri Solodenko, from St. Petersburg, currently studying at a University in Berlin.

So they say the trial has cost a total of $40 million dollars. That could have been spent on far better things than a president which only now admits to having an 'inappropriate relationship' with Ms. Lewinsky. Yes, even Presidents have a private life, but it shouldn't cost $40 million.
Martyn Drake

I agree with two points President Clinton made in his "confession": he had a unsuitable relationship with Monica Lewinsky and it is time for America to get over this and get on with other things. But I found his demeanour to be that of the unrepentent, not someone who accepts full responsibility for his actions. He should hold himself fully accountable to the American public by resigning his Presidency for personal reasons. In his personal life, he has been a terrible role model for all people. America should get on, but without him.
Bill Roe

The "American People" as the politicians like to call us, got what they deserved. Clinton was elected with 43% of the vote. With a little over 5 million watching his abysmal display of regret(?) last evening, you can judge for yourself just how many of the "American People" really give a damn about our politicians. As I read through the comments from people around the world, I am dismayed by how many of them really missed the point. As the leader of the "free" world, he has debased himself, humiliated his wife and daughter (more than once), misled the people, and brought embarassment on the United States of America. We are now the laughing stock of the world. And some of my fellow Americans still profess that he is doing a good job. Pardon me while I snigger. A person in his position of power should never, repeat never, have a "lapse of judgement" as he so aptly put it. America, you got what you deserved.
Mel Prokity

Most polls show that Americans have had a surfeit of Bill and Monica, while the media cannot sell enough of their exploits [to Americans]. Socks, the Presidential cat, is reported by highly placed and occasionally informed sources to be truly shocked and appalled. The real problem is that Mr. Clinton has demonstrated very little leadership [ever diminishing] on matters of both domestic and international importance. Show over substance is the order of our day.
Gregory A. Johnson

He is right in as far as his having an affair is no big deal. However the way he lied to the American people about it is a very serious matter and I feel he should be impeached for it. He has brought this on himself. If he had stood up in the beginning and said I had an affair, but this is a personal matter, there would have been no problem. The fact that he has lied to the world for several months and then has the gall to criticize Mr. Starr for prolonging the investigation shows a contempt for the American people that I find amazing. If they can forgive him for this then the American people are entirely too credible. If he has lied on something this minor what, other things has he got away with?
Richard Read, UK

Being the leader of his country, he is the model to the whole society and to his people. So what influence and family values is he projecting to his country and to the children, who may or may not fully understand this. I feel he must resign, and let the next man, complete the balance of the term.
Maqsood Ahmed Khan

It was very brave of President Clinton to admit his mistakes to the world, instead of trying to cover it up (which most leaders would have done) and I admire him for that. There should be more leaders with this characteristic. The kind of relationship Clinton had is very, I stress, very common among rich and powerful people and majority of the people would definitely agree with me. The fact is in Clinton's case it was made public solely because he is a public figure ie. the President of America. He is the leader of the biggest economy in the world, and therefore he must realise that every action he makes, it would be scrutinised by the public, it's part and parcel of a public figure. Moreover, other economies look up to the USA. He has acted very irresponsibly as a leader. I would definitely agree with the American public's opinion, ie. 'Let's get on with more important matters, now that he has admitted it', as he is a very good leader." But this would be on the conscience of everyone, because we have condoned a bad behaviour especially of a leader. If we forgave him for his actions, what about future similar cases of leaders of either government, companies, etc. Would it be all right for other leaders to behave in this manner?
Ramesh Nadarajah

Thanks for your arrangement by giving us a chance to express our view. In my opinion, Mr. Clinton should express his willingness to resign from the post of President of the United State after his admission that he was involved with Ms. Lewinsky at the White House. If he is wise enough, he will see that the position of the world leader is a respectable position of leadership and world freedom. Therefore in terms of dignity and moral obligation, his standard should be high rather than sticking to private layman-like behaviour.
Mr. U Tin Than, Thailand

The American media should leave Bill Clinton to get on with his job. The combination of political witch hunt and salacious media feeding frenzy in action, makes me actually physically nauseous. I can't bear to watch any reporting of it.
Bryan Charles, Belgium

Let he who is blameless cast the first stone! If the American public knowledge and interest in their political environment does not go beyond the sex life of the presidents, I suggest they re evaluate their self-anointed exalted statusand opinion about themselves. This president possesses the intelligence and qualities of statemanship that the two previous 'excuses' ( Reagan and Bush) would not recognise if they hit them on their faces and if he has come out with this admission it appears to me that he is a human!
Nivedita Subramanian

Clinton really messed this one up! If infidelity wasn't morally questionable enough, he chose to lie to his friends, colleagues and the nation. For seven LONG months, we Americans have been bombarded daily with news of the Clinton scandal and frankly I felt that the only reason why he spoke the other night was because he was caught! He admitted his guilt but never apologized. Then he spent the majority of his speech on bashing Ken Starr. Frankly, I think Hillary should drag him back to Arkansas and kick some sense into him. GET HIM OUT OF OFFICE!!!!!!
Brandon Michael Hartford

Clinton evidence: Send your verdict to: talkingpoint@bbc.co.uk

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