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Full text of Saturday's White House response. The Starr report is also online.

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To Greenwich, It's a Bit Unspeakable, but Not Impeachable

By Blaine Harden
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 13, 1998; Page A30

GREENWICH, Conn., Sept. 12—It is rather disgusting and, of course, bad for the children, but not the sort of stuff impeachments are made of. So ran breakfast sentiment in one of America's oldest and richest suburbs as financial planners and dentists, brokers and software executives, soaked up seamy footnotes from the Starr report and pondered the higher meaning of President Clinton's behavior.

"Unfortunately, it doesn't add up to an impeachable offense," said Joe Albracht, 49, chief operating officer of a software firm called Mobius Management and a Republican who says he did not vote for Clinton and has never liked him.

"The sexual affair and all the lying aren't enough for him to be thrown out. So I think we will have to put up with him for the rest of the term," said Albracht, who was tucking into an omelet at a breakfast place in this town where the average house sells for more than $1 million, where 93 percent of the 58,000 residents are white and where the local Ralph Lauren store delivers.

Next to Manhattan and the Hamptons, perhaps no place in America has prospered so visibly from the long bull market on Wall Street as this close-to-the-city suburb of sprawling homes that stretch along Long Island Sound. The fact, then, that a salacious low point of the Lewinsky scandal has dovetailed with a wrenching decline in portfolio values might be expected to be on the tip of everyone's tongue in Greenwich.

Not so. No one among the dozen or so people interviewed mentioned money or the market. Instead, they talked about the difficulty of explaining the president's behavior to their children and how it is going to be harder to convince them it is wrong to lie. They also feared for the dignity of the U.S. government, suggesting Europeans will look at Washington and laugh.

"I do want to say something about the cheap-novel aspect of this whole thing," said Ginger Boldt, director of student activities at Greenwich High School and the mother of four children, ages 11 to 23. "I guess I believe that all of this is really about a sexual relationship and should not bring down the president, but what he has done to lower the moral bar for children is so apparent. How do we tell the kids not to lie or not to wear provocative clothing in school?

"Clinton has made the presidency into a kind of R-rated movie, and that is pretty sad," said Boldt.

Her husband, Joe Boldt, 53, a dentist who was shopping this morning for a new blade for his 11-year-old son's hockey stick, said he cannot in good conscience talk to his son "in any detail" about the president and Monica Lewinsky.

"We told him only that the president has been unfaithful to his wife and that when you get married, there are important promises that you must try to keep," said Boldt.

Watergate and Richard Nixon's resignation came up again and again this morning, as Greenwich residents in their forties and fifties compared the feelings they have in the pit of their stomach this morning to what they felt back in August 1974.

"These sex things are not on the same level as what Richard Nixon did," said Barbara Merrell, a financial planner in her mid-forties who said that she voted for Clinton twice. "Clinton's crimes -- I guess that means his lying about sex -- are not serious enough for him to be impeached. But I wouldn't mind if he resigned. I think that from now on he is going to be ineffectual."

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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