PRESIDENT CLINTON FACES IMPEACHMENT
One week after the release of the Starr report, the US press considers how the President should be judged and punished
Los Angeles Times
MORE APOLOGIES won't restore this president's power, nor will a formidable White House campaign to defend this presidency against impeachment. What's needed is an explanation from the President of why he risked everything, and then lied so baldly about it, and an assurance that he has changed his ways.
Americans will forgive him for this tryst, yet presidential power depends less on absolution than on an affirmative commitment of public trust. Without trust, Clinton has only the public's approval of how he is doing his job, which rests largely on the continued strength of the US economy, a perilous foundation, particularly with a third of the world in recession or worse.
Absent trust, America will remain mired in this controversy, unable to focus on the more important issues which need Washington's attention. Lacking trust, Clinton in effect has no presidency to defend, and the nation has no president to lead us.
(Robert B Reich)
The Washington Post
IF THIS scandal, which has so consumed a nation, is prolonged indefinitely, it will continue to weaken the presidency, Congress, the country, and the moral fabric of our society. With the serious challenges facing the only remaining superpower in the world, at home and abroad, the inability to provide strong leadership will take a toll far beyond the shame, embarrassment and anger we feel for the sins of this president. This nation has remained strong through crisis because we have not allowed crisis itself to control our fate. We always have had the good sense to do the right thing. The right thing now is to do whatever is necessary to bring closure to this matter.
The President cannot and should not escape punishment for lying to the nation and the grand jury. Neither does the most appropriate punishment rest with criminal prosecution, something rarely done in cases of perjury in a dismissed civil suit. It rests with the political process that now has jurisdiction of the matter. That is why censure makes the most sense. It is the consummate political resolution that punishes the President without removing him from office. (Leon Panetta)
AS CONGRESS takes early steps toward a possible impeachment, it's crucial that the process be fair - and be seen as fair. But Republicans may polarize things needlessly by voting to release thousands of pages of records supplied by independent counsel Kenneth Starr - plus the videotape of President Clinton's grand-jury testimony. The House Judiciary Committee's release of Mr Starr's referral on Friday was problematic, but defensible as an act of governmental openness, preferable to the spectacle of it leaking out in tactical dribs and drabs. But to dump this tape into the public domain before the committee has even started a formal impeachment inquiry would be unfair, an act contrary to the practice of past independent counsels, and one smacking of a desire to stack the deck.
IF SOME of Mr Starr's evidence is made public, then in fairness all of it should be. That means releasing not just the President's testimony - the only testimony videotaped - but every other witness's relevant testimony.
Mr Clinton's hairsplitting lies, and Mr Starr's prurient pursuit of the President's inexplicably reckless personal conduct, make it imperative to let the public see, read, and weigh every shred of evidence. Moreover, better to have the full record out in public, all at once, than to have it leaked in selective dribs and drabs, as Mr Starr or his staff did earlier in the investigation. Enough of that.
So, to the House Judiciary Committee, this counsel: Let's have it all, the whole nine yards, now, even if it makes us all choke and throw up. There are worse prescriptions for the Republic right now than a good purgative.
New York Times
WOULD THE President's removal from office be in the national interest? The Judiciary Committee should now address that question, on the assumption that Mr Starr's accusations are substantially true. If the committee nonetheless concludes that the President's removal from office is not desirable, it can choose not to prosecute. This would open the way to outcomes other than trial and conviction.
Removing Mr Clinton from office might well be an excessive penalty, given the non-criminal, non-official character of his initial offence, as well as this society's disposition to cloak sexual behaviour from public exposure. If, for these or other reasons, the House concludes that the President's removal from office is not required, it can then consider censure. This would be the logical fallback for members who felt that no action at all would be too lenient. On the basis of what I now know, censure would seem to be the appropriate solution. (Elliot Richardson)
TRADES UNION CONGRESS
Verdicts on the proceedings at this week's annual conference of the TUC at Blackpool
THE TUC'S influence on micro-economic policy is greater than at the macro level, where its warnings about the dangers of a strong pound have gone unheeded. It is in macro-policy, however, where the self-interest of Labour and the TUC converges. Both have a vested interest in trying to reverse the growth of income inequality. If Labour doesn't narrow this gap then its raison d'etre as a political party will be in doubt.
THE RELATIONSHIP between Peter Mandelson and the trade union movement has never been marked by much warmth. This week, the new Trade and Industry Secretary sought to make a fresh start. His speech to the TUC conference in Blackpool on 17 September contained a courageous assertion that a New Labour government would never "contract out" its responsibilities to the unions. But it also included plenty of conciliatory words. The mixture did not work - at times Mr Mandelson's speech seemed like a combination of flat jokes and applause lines greeted in stony silence. To many union barons he clearly remains "the prince of darkness".
UNUSUALLY FOR a general secretary of the boilermakers, John Edmonds is a graduate of Oriel College. This may explain why he feels the need to assert his proletarian credentials by boiler-mouthed oratory. On television he sounds like a little Hitler trying to imitate the real one.
The Daily Telegraph
WHAT CURIOUS twisting of definitions is going on here? By "greed", Mr Edmonds evidently means the rational pursuit of self interest. "Compassion", by contrast, is used by the Left to mean higher tax. Thus, working for yourself is greedy, whereas paying yourself at others' expense is compassionate.
How many of the TUC delegates who cheered Mr Edmonds so lustily would turn down a pounds 50,000 pay rise if they were offered it? In the private sector at least, almost all pay rises are "earned", in the sense of being paid for out of increased productivity. It is, admittedly, difficult to explain how one director can have worked hard enough to earn a bonus of, say, pounds 1m. But the reason he is worth such a sum has nothing to do with how many hours he puts in. Rather, his pay is justified in terms of the profits he has made.
UNIONS ARE supposed to speak up for ordinary people and yesterday John Edmonds, the TUC President, certainly did. His language is not to be recommended, but what he said reflected the views of millions. Bosses who help themselves to a pay rise of tens of thousands, while forcing their workers to take a few thousand are, in Mr Edmonds words, "greedy bastards".
There was a time when some workers were simply envious of the money their bosses made. But that is not what is happening now. No one can nowadays describe ordinary employees, or their trade unions, as greedy.
They have learned to accept reasonable rises even if they don't like it. But to see the fat cats still licking the cream off company profits shows the lessons have not been learned at the top.
WELCOME TO the real world, brothers. Delegates at the TUC Conference discover one union they cannot support unconditionally - European Monetary Union.
Until now, most favoured signing up to the single currency as soon as possible. They hoped to win back via Brussels the power and influence stripped from them in Britain. But now, a growing band of unions have serious concerns about joining. They realize that full employment and the single currency do not mix.
VIAGRA AND THE NHS
Following the licensing of the male potency drug Viagra, opinion on whether the Health Service should make it available
IN THE UK, the challenge for health ministers is to decide a set of principles that can be applied, not just to Viagra, but to other "lifestyle" drugs that are just over the medical horizon: obesity drugs and memory enhancers, for example. Viagra should plainly not be available on the NHS for purely recreational use. But given the misery impotence causes, the drug should be provided for people with a genuine clinical need: diabetics and those demonstrably impotent owing to prostate surgery or other definable clinical causes.
THE HEALTH Secretary expressed concerns that the new drug had created expectations which could prove "a serious drain", distorting already established NHS priorities. That's why the Health Secretary's move is so bold. This is the first time a drug of known efficacy has been banned on cost grounds across the entire country. Previous governments have preferred to pass the buck to health authorities below them. This created the worst form of health rationing: postcode prescribing, where a patient's chance of obtaining a drug depends on where they live.
The Daily Telegraph
"I DON'T really think the NHS should be financing people waving their potency at a disco," said Mr Dobson on Monday, and he clearly has a point. In the circumstances, to wait and see what happens once Viagra is available on the private prescription must be sensible. In the United States, demand is said to have fallen by 50 per cent in recent weeks as the initial excitement has worn off.
The Evening Standard
THE NHS has been grossly abused by many people, including doctors, for many years. It would be the last straw, if its finances were pushed over the edge in the ludicrously frivolous cause of providing the public with free orgasms.
THE THING which makes Viagra unique is that it is widely believed to enhance male sexual performance among those of advancing years. Those who try to persuade themselves that enhancing male sexual enjoyment chemically will also enhance women's pleasure should note one awkward fact: middle aged women are not rushing out to buy Viagra to improve the performance of their men folk. No, Viagra is strictly male fantasy land. (Claire Rayner)
Comments on the ceasefire announced this week by ETA, the terrorist Basque separatist movement
CAUTION SHOULDN'T stretch so far as to make us deny that we're in a completely new situation. The unlimited ETA ceasefire removes from centre- stage the main obstacle to starting a political debate, to include the electorate which Herri Batasuna represents. It would be stupid to behave as if nothing had happened. The situation has changed, and opportunities are opening which didn't exist before. After so many years of terrorist nightmare, the politicians' hour has come, so it's vital that the two main parties are able to rise above their own conflict.
AN "UNLIMITED" ETA ceasefire? It would be the first of its kind, and although there have been persistent rumours over the past few days, the news has still come as a great surprise. It remains to be seen what to make of it, in all its complexity. We have to consider what is not said (for example, will there be an eventual disarmament by ETA as a proof of good faith?). And above all there are the electoral aspects: it is only a month until the regional elections at the end of October.
The Irish Times
THE IRA ceasefire left ETA as the last potent exponents of nationalist terrorism in Europe. The group had suffered many reverses, including the imprisonment of the entire central committee of its political wing, Herri Batasuna, last December. A ceasefire will presumably enable the moderate nationalists to form a government with the radicals. They are likely to pursue a programme for self-determination, and possibly even independence, for the Basque Country, a prospect which is anathema to Madrid.
LAUNCH OF THE FORD FOCUS
The motoring press reviews the dramatically styled successor to the Ford Escort, Britain's best-selling car over the last 30 years
BLOKES DOWN the pubs beware. Here we have crushing evidence that one of your most dearly held beliefs - often discussed in great depth after a few pints have been sunk - is now a false conviction. That conversation which began some time in the early Eighties with the words "Motors, they all look the same these days - it's the computers they're using to design them", and has been rattling on ever since, can now be stopped dead with the simple little question: "What about the new Ford Focus then?"
THE FOCUS is not perfect though - no car ever is - so here's a list of faults and not-so-goods: the grab handles aren't damped like the VW's, the ventilation is a bit weak, and the buttons at the base of the console (air-con, recirculation, heated front and rear screens) are distant. And that, on the basis of this brief drive, is it. Which you can take to be a measure of just how good this car is. On this showing it's the most cleverly thought out, most capable car in its class. Best of all, for the enthusiast, is that it looks refreshingly different, and is genuinely entertaining to drive. It is vastly better than any Escort has ever been.
IN A few months, we'll all have got used to the Ford Focus. There'll be so many in daily use that the sight of one will no longer cause a stir. Right now, though, the visual impact couldn't be greater than if they painted the road around it in dayglo yellow.
FORD'S NEW Focus is a brilliant road performer. Impressive handling, performance and looks combine to make the Focus a hot competitor to the Golf and Astra. A big step on from the Escort in every way.
US comment on the death of former Alabama Governor George Wallace
The Atlanta Constitution
I KNEW George C Wallace, longtime governor of Alabama, as a hater. When I was growing up in Monroeville, Ala, he symbolized all that was racist, backward and embarrassing about the South. Dominating Alabama politics for nearly a generation, he represented a malignant force that would deny me full citizenship. Billboards with his slogan "Stand Up for Alabama!" (read that as stand against the federal government's orders on school integration) stood on the roadsides.
For black children like me - black children whose parents pushed, and pleaded, and sacrificed ,and prayed, to gain us decent educations - the crusade to deny us equal educational opportunity was the cruellest edge of the lash of Jim Crow. The Wallace who died on Sunday at the age of 79 was not the man I remember.
He had long since renounced segregation and gone about the business of seeking redemption, apologizing at black churches and in other forums for his divisive past. He even gained some substantial black support in his last gubernatorial win in 1982. I believe he was sincere in his political conversion, and I believe he deserved to be forgiven. But I cannot forget. (Cynthia Tucker)
GEORGE WALLACE was God's gift to Americans in search of a conscience. Before him, racism was cloaked in layers of bureaucratic legalisms, in mean little local traditions, in people so cowardly that they hid their identities beneath hooded sheets. Wallace told Americans to choose up sides by skin colour, and thus made thoughtful people confront the true destructiveness of the racial divide: not only that it deprived black people of a fair chance, but diminished everyone else who'd paid empty lip service to American ideals. (Michael Olesker)
Stories from around the world
Times of India
CASANOVA IS being remembered, 200 years after his death, through a lavish exhibition in Venice. Which is fine, for he is the showpiece of a breed that had been there before him, and shall always be there. All the world loves a lover, and the man who wins numerous hearts is eyed with envy by men and secret admiration by women, despite society's ostensible disapproval of his ways. It has been established that Casanova had only 132 affairs in his 73 years, which has surprised many. For short- term affairs, lovers sometimes need very little qualification. A hotel porter in Venice has reportedly claimed to have enjoyed intimacy with 8,000 women; Casanova's 132 looks like chickenfeed in comparison. Even after making allowances for exaggeration, the actual figure must be impressive. Psychologist Lydia Flem, who is writing Casanova's biography, offers a Freudian explanation of his lifestyle. She feels he went after women because he missed his mother, and loved to be dominated. She calls him a feminist, which is perhaps appropriate. The labour of love of analysing "masculine mystique" should go to a woman.
THE FEDERAL government plan to slaughter thousands of Yellowstone National Park bison is nonsense. Yellowstone is home to America's only remaining natural, free-roaming buffalo herd. In winter, the animals migrate to lower altitudes in search of food, but their wanderings take them into Montana, where ranchers fear they could spread brucellosis to domestic cattle. There's never been a case of buffalo giving that disease to domestic animals. Indeed, the National Academy of Sciences says the risk of such transmission is close to zero. Nonetheless, for years the feds have rounded up and killed the buffalo.
"I'M PROUD of my body, proud of my Zuluness, proud of my virginity," said the 16-year-old, as, along with thousands of other near naked schoolgirls, she paraded in Durban's King Park Stadium. She was doing her bit in the battle against the scourges of Aids and teenage pregnancy.