'An Ugly, Unsettling Day'
By Ryan Thornburg
It was a day that the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle called ugly and unsettling. All around the country, newspaper editorial writers weighed in this morning on the attack on Iraq and its political and military significance.
Here are views from the nation's seven largest papers, listed in order of circulation (views from yet more papers are below):
The Wall Street Journal: "[I]t has never been clear that Mr. Clinton has any plan other than a dramatic show of force offering proof that he is man enough to take on a small-time dictator."
USA Today: "[P]olitics and religion aside, there should be no doubt that the president made the right choice."
The New York Times: "The confrontation with Iraq has played out on its own timetable and happened to reach a decisive point on the eve of the House impeachment debate."
Los Angeles Times: "[Iraq's] repeated evasions and defiance of that order not only invited but compelled the powerful military response that is now underway."
The Washington Post: "[T]he coincidence of events cannot be allowed to distract attention from the need to deal with the long-term threat posed by Saddam Hussein and his defiance of international law."
New York Daily News: "Saddam is getting the punishment he deserves, Republican suspicions about the timing notwithstanding."
The Chicago Tribune: "In a situation in which his motives were bound to be questioned, Clinton chose to be damned for doing, and so he went forward with airstrikes.... The president chose properly."
San Francisco Chronicle: "Clinton must be prepared to give an understandably skeptical public more expansive explanations about the timing and scope of this mission than he did yesterday."
The Dallas Morning News: "This country is big enough, strong enough and smart enough to handle the impeachment process and protect its vital interests abroad."
The New York Post: "The decision to launch military strikes against Iraq is shall we say unimpeachable."
The Inquirer, Philadelphia: "The cynicism from some quarters toward Mr. Clinton's decision on Iraq -- which had his advisers' unanimous support -- demonstrates how the Lewinsky scandal has compromised his ability to lead."
The Star-Tribune, Minneapolis: "It is a sad commentary that some voices in Washington are complaining that momentous world events have interrupted their sideshow."
Detroit Free-Press: "Notwithstanding the bizarre, pre-emptive protest from Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, an embattled President Bill Clinton called the right shot Wednesday in launching an attack on Iraq."
Detroit Free-Press: "To put Clinton on trial for his sleazy, cheesy offenses cheapens the impeachment process, which was put in the Constitution as insurance against just this kind of partisan political coup."
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: "When a president is widely seen as a liar and manipulator, the moral authority of his office must be weakened."
The Denver Post: "Rather than rallying support to his side, an act of leadership, regrettably, has instead triggered cynicism."
The Miami Herald: "President Clinton acted within his authority to protect the credibility of U.S. leadership. He deserves support."
St. Petersburg Times: "Even those Americans who have lost trust in the president should respect the integrity of Defense Secretary William Cohen, Joint Chiefs Chairman Henry Shelton and the other members of the national security team that unanimously supported this action."
The Wichita Eagle: "The nation can figure out what to do about impeachment after the attacks have mitigated the threat that Saddam poses to world peace."
Press-Herald, Portland, Maine: "In not supporting the president on Iraq, Delay, Lott and other Republicans have helped Saddam."
The Boston Globe: "Nobody in his right mind would want the impeachment process to endanger a matter of such vital national and world interest as preventing Saddam Hussein from gaining the ultimate killing machines."
The Detroit News: "If Congress defers its deliberations on impeachment until Iraq has submitted to Mr. Clinton, we would predict that it will never get back to the issue."
The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss.: "In different ways, both men are destructive to the nations they lead."
The Post-Dispatch, St. Louis: "In fact, there is logic to the timing of the attack, a fact which the president took pains to underscore during his address to the nation Wednesday evening."
The Post-Dispatch, St. Louis: "Not one scintilla of new evidence has emerged since the November election to justify impeaching Bill Clinton."
Lincoln Journal Star, Neb.: "Although the airstrikes resulted in apparent agreement by the House to delay an
impeachment vote, Clinton and his most fevered Republican opponents both know that the airstrikes will provide only a temporary delay."
Las Vegas Review-Journal: "And the president, despite the looming impeachment proceedings, still has an obligation to carry out the duties of his office and to ensure the country remains committed to pursuing its interests around the globe."
Times Union, Albany, N.Y.: "Regrettably, Saddam might again be misled by the criticism of some Republican leaders in Congress, who were quick to question Mr. Clinton's timing in ordering Wednesday's attack."
The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.: "Some of Clinton's critics darkly suggest that he ordered military action to try to head off the U.S. House's scheduled debate and vote on the fate of his presidency. But that cynical view doesn't properly acknowledge the history or scale of the Iraqi crisis."
The Commercial Appeal, Memphis: "If Republicans have seized the leadership vacuum thus created, and even exploited it for partisan power and advantage, President
Clinton ultimately has no one to blame but himself."
The Salt Lake Tribune: "The Tribune believes that as reprehensible as the president's behavior has been, it does not amount to the abuse of official power that impeachment was created to remedy."
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "But maybe Hussein has done us a favor."
Ryan Thornburg can be reached at email@example.com
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