Forum: The Impeachment Debate
Washingtonpost.com readers submitted the following comments on today's impeachment proceedings in response to the question: Do you think it's appropriate for the House to continue the impeachment proceedings today? We are not able to publish every comment we received, but what follows is a representative selection. Thanks to all for participating.
Falls Church, Va: Hold until Iraq's battle is some degree settled down. It has just begun. It may be getting worse. It may be over soon. But in case of the getting worse situation, it is not good that the nation has turmoil internally.
McLean, VA: They should continue the impeachment proceeding. The president is guilty of perjury, the US is strong enough to move on without Clinton in office.
Vienna, VA: Of course the House should continue the impeachment proceedings today. This vote is just a dark cloud over our entire political landscape.
In addition, Clinton went to a political fund raising concert last night. He obviously is not worrying at all about what is happening in Iraq. He can't even take time away from his busy fund raising schedule to perform his duties as Commander in Chief.
washingtonpost.com: A quick fact check: This Post story about Clinton's schedule indicates that he was at a fundraiser to benefit the Special Olympics last night.
fullerton, CA: If you don't continue with the impeachment proceedings then every president from this point on will use the military to avoid hearings. It's simply too coincidental that bombings take place whenever the President needs a diversion.
Alexandria, VA: If the hearings are delayed, then the strikes on Iraq are a de-facto wag the dog, even unintentionally. Instead, the House needs to continue.
Norman, Oklahoma: The Republic is larger than one man, one incident. The constitution is a carefully crafted instrument that divides responsibilities and introduces redundancies in order to preserve the nation against the weaknesses of its politicians. We can have this debate while troops are in combat, especially when troops are in combat because of a sudden decision by an executive acting under the cloud of impeachment. I am dismayed that this president can only find his decisiveness when his political survival is threatened.
bowie, md : No, Congress should not continue the impeachment drive at this time. This is a time for this country to stand in unity and to support our men and women, who are fighting for our country. Congress is now and has throughout this whole impeachment ordeal maintained an arbitrary and capricious attitude. It is apparent through their actions that they care very little about the opinions of the citizens, who they are supposed to be working for and that they care even less for the country as a whole. This republican Congress' only concern is that they take every means available to them to take advantage of this mean-spirited opportunity to further damage democracy.
American in London, UK:
The troops would take his impeachment as morale boosting.
What's appropriate anymore is difficult to know given that the impeachment process has become totally partisan. Politicians they are, statesmen they are not! Hypocrisy drips from the lips of both parties.
Vienna, VA: There is absolutely no problem with the conduct of impeachment hearings while executing an attack on Iraq. Our troops will do a spectacular job, just as they always have! In fact, the possibility of impeaching Clinton will undoubtedly give an additional boost to their morale and spirit! The Democrats should realize that they are giving new meaning to the term "dumber than a rock" by their inept, subversive, disruptive conduct of business. Isn't it sad to see them degrade themselves by attempting to salvage Clinton! Nonetheless, America will survive--and our service personnel will succeed!
College Park, MD: If the President has committed an act that makes him unfit to continue to lead our country, then he is not fit to lead the country during the current military action and Congress should continue the process to remove him from office. That this is quite obviously not the current situation is why Congress should never have gone as far down the road of impeachment as it has.
Washington, DC: Emphatically, I say no. As Americans we tend to exist in our secure and dominant bubble, believing that no war or tragedy will touch our soil. By focusing on the impeachment proceeding I fear we are leaving ourselves wide-open, giving the enemies of our country access to our open wounds. The conduct of our President is appalling, but I have yet to see evidence that it affects his ability to carry out his job. What it does seem to affect is the ability for everyone around him to do theirs. What we, as the American public, need in this time of crises is the solidarity of our elected officials. Petty arguments and attempts at revenge can be saved for a time when the United States is not at war. Save that energy for Saddam Hussein.
Woodbridge, Va.: Absolutely! We are not at war. The impeachment proceeding is far more significant than this little high-tech, one-sided, push-button skirmish. And this comes from a active-duty, Gulf War vet. Nice try, Clinton but the delaying tactic won't and shouldn't work.
Asheville, NC: The actions of the Republican leadership in conducting the impeachment hearings while military actions are in progress merely underscores the obvious partisanship that has driven the entire investigation from the out set. What a display of radical Republicanism !
Beaumont, TX: My husband is a member of the Texas Air Guard. To hold this debate while we are in conflict is a rank insult to every serving member of our armed forces. They are so besotted with hate they are blind to their treasonous behavior on the floor of the House to carry this debate today. Contemptible.
This is coming from someone who voted against Clinton in 1996.
washingtonpost.com: For others of you who are overseas: What are people saying about the situation? And do you think other countries' legislatures would have delayed a similar debate?
Annapolis, MD: If one is looking to the intent of the founders, look no further than Madison's Federalist 10 which warns that "the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties." I urge the Republicans to think of the Republic and conduct the proceeding fairly and try not to turn this into a partisan drive to remove someone they don't like. It will come back to bite them. Democrats, similarly should stop arguing about the danger of fighting a battle in Iraq that the Democratic president started. Our Representatives and our President take an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, not of any political party.
Norman, Oklahoma: The logic that says we cannot hold impeachment hearings because troops are in action is dangerous. Under that logic, elections should be suspended in time of war, that congress should not oppose an executive who is engaged in combat regardless of circumstance, and that one should not criticize an executive in time of war. If this nation can hold a presidential election during a Civil War (yes, we did do that!), then it can consider removing the executive during a contrived police action.
Herndon, VA: I had no idea that Clinton was at a fundraiser last night while we were attacking Iraq. That is disgusting. The fundraiser was for a noble cause, but certainly, everyone would understand if Clinton bowed out to run the attack he ordered. Now, more than ever, I am convinced that the House is doing the right thing by holding the vote.
washingtonpost.com: For those who missed it, here's the link again to the story about Clinton's schedule.
In response to bowie, md:
Sayre, PA: Why shouldn't we debate the impeachment of the President during the "conflict" with Iraq? We debated the impeachment during the Vietnam war, and we were actually IN war at time with men and women troops by the thousands being killed all the while the democrats were decapitating the duly elected commander-in-chief...
Marlton, NJ: The analogy to Nixon and troops in Vietnam is erroneous. A peace accord was signed in January 1973, so while there were still US troops in the region, they were not combatants.
No, not while our planes are in the air. Besides, the Congress should now be trying to find out if hush money was paid by Livingston to the women with whom he had affairs, whether or not sexual harassment was involved, and whether or not America can trust him with national security secrets given his adulterous proclivities.
Oxford, England: I have to say that Clinton made a mockery of America well before the impeachment proceedings began. Clinton is a joke over here. Every time he gets caught in the act, he blows someone up. I can't tell you what your government should do, but I certainly hope that they settle things quickly so that Clinton will stop bringing our troops into a battle to save his job.
McLean, VA: Would we ask a doctor to step out during an critical operation or would we openly attack the chairman of the board in front of competitors during a critical business deal? Of course not - it goes against common sense and an inherent knowledge of right and right. But we are doing as much with the President at a critical point in international policy enforcement. The office of the President is more than just one man and one function - it includes Commander in Chief, Head Diplomat, Chief of all Police. To have our elected Representatives undercut the power of the office and the ability to conduct policy because of a myopic partisan inquisition is an insult the citizens of the United States, especially the vast majority who are against this politically biased action in the first place. Let he who is truly innocent cast the first stone against Clinton - that should stop the process completely.
Arlington, VA: I am so tired of hearing how the impeachment debates are going to affect the morale of our servicepeople while they are engaged in the strike against Iraq. I was in the military for four years and my husband has almost finished his 20 years. Believe me, there is no love loss between the President and the military. Most of them see him as a draft dodger if nothing else. There morale will probably improve as a result of all of this. As a side note, at a Christmas Party the other night, one of the topics of conversation among the military folks was the fact that my husband would probably (if he isn't impeached) have President Clinton sign his honorable discharge after 20 years service while the others at the party would avoid that because Clinton would be out office when they retired. A morale problem for the military, I just don't see it!
Fairfax, VA: The President has no role to play in the House proceedings. All of the facts in this matter are well established, and the President's lawyers and Democratic supporters have had ample time to make all the arguments that they can make. It is entirely appropriate that the House move forward.
kansas city: The argument that impeachment proceedings should be halted during the action in Iraq is disingenuous at best. It implies that the most advanced minds on earth can only think about one thing at a time. Come on, let's multi-task on the federal government level.
Houston, Texas: Yes. It changes nothing. The timing of the Senate trial might be another issue but the House should conduct business. The House cannot have its agenda set by a non-member -- especially by one with so much to gain from obstruction. There has already been a surfeit of obstruction. Let's get it over with. NOW!
Are any of you watching the proceedings on television? We welcome comments on statements House members have made this morning.
Lewisburg, PA: When I first picked up the thread of this discussion I felt that the proceedings should be suspended. After reading everyone's comments, now I think the proceedings should continue, so the issue can move on to the Senate and be disposed of. Yes, I am disgusted by the partisanship in the House. No, I don't think the President's foolish and arrogant behavior warrants impeachment. My only hope now is that the Senate will rise to the occasion as the House has not, demonstrating the kind of leadership that many in the world look to the U.S. to provide.
Minneapolis, MN: I think it is appropriate for the House to continue the impeachment proceedings today. Clinton has hurt his credibility greatly by committing perjury and later repeatedly dodging a simple question. How can we trust him to lead an important military action? Furthermore, if a military personnel has done exactly what he has done (infidelity, relationship with a subordinate, lying), he/she would have been court-martialed. Clinton is entirely an dishonorable person and is not fit to represent the nation. Although he has carried out many duties of his office successfully, he has failed in acting like the leader of our nation.
Woodbridge, VA: The Republicans are out of control. As representatives of the people from their states, they must vote on what their constituents want, not what they personally feel. And if you listen to any one of them, they term their impeachment vote a "personal decision".
Hacienda Hts, CA: If the Republicans truly believe that the President's behavior meets the test of "high crimes," and if they were truly voting their conscience, then why are they willing to drop matters if the President confesses publicly and begs forgiveness? That's a strange trade-off from folks who would have us believe they were operating out of principle.
Atlanta, Georgia: We should get it over with now. Impeaching Clinton will not cause a Constitutional crisis. We have a vice-president specifically so that we have someone to step in immediately should anything happen to the President, whether it's assassination or impeachment or something else is irrelevant.
We're hearing quite a bit about the historic import of this week's events. Taking a step back from it all, how do you think history will remember this day?
Washington, DC: I think that this day will down in history like the rest of the 90's...very Jerry Springeresque. All eyes glued to the tv to watch the scandal unfold and the bombs explode.
Cleveland,Ohio: President Clinton and his administration are the most criminal elements ever to occupy the White House and should be removed immediately. Our boys are really not in the field, but rather our cruise missiles are. If the Iraq situation were a traditional military episode, ground troops, etc., with the probability of many casualties, then the Impeachment vote should be delayed, but that is not the case and it is incumbent upon the House to start the process to remove President Clinton.
Greenville,SC: I think history will look back on this day as one where the Congress tried to reign in an out-of-control president who was willing to risk the lives of honorable Americans for his own political gain. At least, I hope it will.
SAN DIEGO, CA: This day will just be another day in history unless Clinton is actually impeached. Then, it will be noted as the day, the second time a President of the USA has been impeached.
I am concerned by the total absence of credibility concerning the judgment of the President at this time of military action against Iraq. Every action must go through the filter of the looming impeachment vote and then be analysed to independently confirm its wisdom. If the impeachment debate was concluded, then the country can move on to address the Iraqi situation. Even the President admits he is able to focus on Iraqi irrespective of the impeachment debate.
Columbia, Md.: I think that this day will be remembered as the reason why, twenty some years from now, a Democratic majority will try to impeach a Republican whom they find distasteful over a minor issue. I hope they will not.
This event will make about as much sense to the children of its proponents as the North Vietnamese flag waving at anti-war rallies of the 60s do to the children of today. The only excuse will be "at the time, we were swept up with emotion." I hope that the cooler heads in the Senate will prevail.
Washington, D.C.: This day will go down in history as the day that the Congress shifted the balance of power by creating a blue print for majorities to come remove the President from office. This vote is not about "sex" or "Perjury", it is about "hatred", the republican leadership's "hatred" of a man, whom they can not defeat at the polls and who has done nothing but lead this country through one it's best times in history.
College Park, MD: I think this day will be remembered as the dawn of the rehabilitation of American politics. The day when we began to correct the lying rampant on Capital Hill.
new orleans, LA: history will judge this era as one of strictly partisan politics, and the rise of the right wing. All at the cost of rational thought!
The current farce playing out in US politics looks ridiculous to most non-Americans. Particularly funny though also scary is the daily subjection to the facile rhetoric spouting from the mouths of the mono-syllabic Republicans. The hearings should never have been held period. They have trivialized the American legal system which was already an international joke. They only reason that it has reached this stage is that the Republicans have bulldozed it through all the judicial & house procedures.
American citizen in Holland: I have comments on a few areas of this issue. In terms of being abroad, most people here don't understand our fascination with this. Generally, they view Clinton as a successful statesman operating in a global political arena. If he had an affair, they feel it is a private matter. If he lied, they feel it is not of the same level of importance as other issues he must deal with as a world leader. Personally, I am extremely disappointed both in Clinton and the House. At times, the lack of true political statesmanship on all sides has left me embarrassed to be an American. The levels of hypocrisy on all sides is astounding.
Chicago, Il.: Today will be remembered as the day that a corrupt president was impeached and America did not grind to a halt. It will be evidence of the enduring strength of the Constitution. It will be remembered as the day that truth and justice prevailed and America got back on course.
Santa Fe, NM: The House's impeachment proceedings are a transparently partisan affair. Right wing Republicans are after a President they resent for occupying an office to which they think they are entitled. They could not win at the polls, so now they are trying to override the voters. The whole business is a disgrace reminiscent of the attempt to impeach Andrew Johnson. It should be stopped irrespective of other events.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK: It is quite unfortunate that we are in this deep mess over truth and the meaning of giving one's word. But that is all we have to motivate others to sacrifice. Just as in the Viet Nam conflict some followed our leaders because they believed that they were guiding the country as honestly as they could while others felt we were constantly being lied to about the war. Bill Clinton has such an unfortunate history of lying that it is impossible for anyone to know what is right about something as grave as bombing Iraq. I believe the impeachment should go forward or we will just fall deeper into unknowing.
Montgomery, AL: I am fascinated by the statement from the writer in Holland. Because Clinton is a world leader he should not be held accountable to the same laws that we mere citizens are. I hope that that never becomes the case in this country. Clinton does not need to be a saint, but he does need to obey the laws or pay the consequences as all American citizens must!
Olney, Md.: Yes, the impeachment hearing and vote should proceed. The arguments against this process -- that it is only about sex or that it will affect the morale or our troops or encourage Saddam in some way -- are red herrings. Lying and perjury are despicable; the House needs to address whether or not these acts are impeachable. The President only starts or stops the action in Iraq and then only with enormous amounts of help. The House potentially will impeach the President, not the advisors who have the substantive expertise.
American in London:
In response to the American in Holland's comments:
Honolulu, HI: As a military officer and a citizen, I am sick and tired of my civilian leadership being held to a lesser standard of responsibility and accountability than I. No one is above the law. If I should fight and die to protect this, by God he should live by it.
Clinton is indefensible. But the Republicans singular obsession with his sex life is comical.
Centreville, VA: Let the House complete its work and let the Senate, which has the responsibility for overseeing foreign policy, decide the course. Impeachment needs to be debated within a larger context: the continuing degradation of the Presidency from all sides, loss of America's leadership credibility in the world, and the merits of our Iraqi policy.
Bethesda, MD: Today's actions, whether impeachment is passed or not, will be a reaffirmation of our country's strong judicial process, not a mockery of it. There is not reason why our country's chief law enforcement officer should not be held to the same judicial standards of perjury as a typical American. To turn our heads the other way would allow him to seriously abuse his power of President and weaken what the framers of the Constitution had in mind for "checks and balances."
NY, NY : It seems the moderator is only posting those thoughts that are against the president. This is my third post and none have gone up.
washingtonpost.com: We're sorry that none of your posts have been chosen. We are selecting a representative sample. We give extra consideration to messages that raise new points or answer other posts.
boston, mass: to respond to the military officer who feels Clinton should have to live to the same standards as military officers: I'm an army brat; my dad's an officer and my brother is an admiral currently in the Gulf. Military standards are necessarily different because the chain of command is critical in times of war. The standards are different because the job is different. I don't condone Clinton's actions - they are indefensible. But he's a civilian. I just don't understand military people who insist on the right to discriminate against gays because the military is different, but then want to kick out the president because his behavior is unacceptable in the military. You can't have it both ways.
New York City, NY: The House of Representatives (which is really a contradiction in terms, since the House is NOT representing the American people) should NOT be going ahead with this impeachment 'lynching', especially with our troops in the field.
washingtonpost.com: This raises a thread that we explored a little before: To what extent should our representatives vote their consciences, and to what extent should they follow the opinion polls? Are we a direct democracy or a democratic republic?
Alexandria, VA: What difference does it make if the "debate" goes forward? The issue has already been decided, and the Republicans can smell the prospect of overturning an election that they couldn't (and probably STILL couldn't) win at the polls. Reflect on the fact that a sizeable number of Republican members of the House were already calling for Clinton's impeachment several months BEFORE anyone had even heard the name Monica. Any claim that this is a nonpartisan proceeding is laughable.
From my vantage point as one who has spent the last 30 years working overseas, mostly in the third world, I can tell you that this has all the stench of a coup d'etat, complete with the usual covering hyperbole about how important it is to rid the nation of this miscreant (i.e. our political opponent, who was elected only because the people didn't realize what a conniving slimeball he really is . . .).
Clearwater, Fla: I don't agree that distracting Clinton's attention from Iraq is a bad thing. He has no military background, so the only decision of relevance he makes is to bomb or not to bomb. He's made that decision. Hopefully the experienced soldiers are deciding the rest.
Lexington, VA: The members of the House are the only ones who have actually heard all of the evidence and can make a clear decision on this matter. Public opinion polls are not accurate. I have seen polls that are completely opposite. Whose polls should be used to tell the Representatives how to vote? In addition, doesn't this take the power away from our elected officials and place it in the hands of unelected pollsters? I would infinitely prefer to have elected officials in control.
Cambridge, MA: To Fullerton, CA: Somehow, I don't think we need fear current or future Presidents "using" the American military complex to avert political disaster. Do you think the Pentagon so easily kow-tows? Out of respect for our constitution, and the severity of the crime, we should all oppose impeachment.
Fairfax, VA: Our representatives should vote based on their conscience. The public opinion polls should have NO bearing on this matter. First of all, I don't think the polls truly reflect the American people.
Second, voting by "Public Opinion" opens up a new set of problems....If Michael Jordan were to commit tax fraud, but the majority of Americans love him, should he NOT be punished? I don't think our country wants these kinds of situations.
of course, from my perspective over here, where we are having our own leadership issues, it is most fascinating to witness a country so self-confident and powerful that it can simultaneously engage in limited warfare and discuss removing it's head of state! For me at least, that sums up very briefly why your country is at once incomprehensible and also the envy of the world.
But I thought the whole point was that our representatives represent the voters?
Every four years Americans go to the polls to elect a President. Each an every American who takes part in this process votes their conscience in that vote. Twice in the past 8 years Bill Clinton was elected President on a national vote of conscience.
Vienna, VA: History will remember this whole impeachment episode as a time when the Republican party forgot the needs of its country (health care, education, economic security, etc.) and fed on its own selfish need to remove a President of the United States simply because they don't like him and never have. They think the majority of voters will forget their gross behavior and how they dragged our country through a soap opera and sent it via tape around the world because they did not want to deal with the real issues of the people. What fun they are having NOW.
Lake Charles, LA: Has everyone forgotten that Clinton was never elected by a majority of Americans? A majority of Americans did not vote for Clinton. The House should vote based on the facts, not based on polls that may or may not be accurate.
Germantown, MD: The impeachment proceedings, for whatever reason, have dragged on too long already. Postponing them will only make it worse. I would like to see this situation resolved, one way or another. The longer the impeachment debate continues, the worse it will be for the country as a whole. The impeachment process should continue, without interruption, until either Clinton is out of office or the matter is resolved.
College Park, MD: Coup d'etat? Not even. This is about OUR system working and about our duly elected Representatives taking care of business. I don't see very many of these Congressman taking joy in this process. Most of the Representatives realize that 'but for the grace of God, walk they.'
To Lake Charles
Cambridge, MA: I agree with Vienna, VA, except that one, it is OUR representatives who have forgotten, and the reason why is what we should really be afraid of (what ARE the powers that they fear, if not the people?) and two, while issues like health care may be languishing, more fundamental democratic principles are being destroyed.
washingtonpost.comUnfortunately, that's a technical glitch. Our programmers are working on it, and we apologize for the repetition.
Olney, MD: The Post moderators, inadvertently or not, have picked up the Democrats' rhetoric about Members voting their conscience. The impeachment vote is not a matter of conscience. It is a matter of Constitutional interpretation and law. Opinion polls should not play a part in this process. Americans exercised their democratic responsibilities in electing the members of Congress. Let the members do their jobs. If you believe they do a poor job, don't vote for them next time or find grounds, under the Constitution of course, to remove them from office.
washingtonpost.com: Actually, we culled that question from readers' comments. Thanks for adding another point of view.
Salt Lake City, Utah: Congress is there to provide a check to the president's actions. This president has disregarded his constitutional duty to get congressional approval before going to war. This is even more of a reason to impeach him. Congress is made up of our voices, and Clinton is disregarding the requirements to listen to those voices.
To Greensboro, NC.
Dallas, Texas: It could possibly be a boost to our troops to know that President Clinton may not be their Commander-in-Chief much longer. Rome was taken down by the enemies within. I suggest that our true enemies are those who will do anything to survive their political career. Having a President that we cannot trust is doing more harm to our nation than the Viet Nam war did, which he opposed. He certainly has selective values.
Cambridge, MA: Olney, MD: Nice to see such an interest in substantive constitutional interpretation (ie democratic principles in action via representation) from someone ready to oust the prime directly elected national figure. Once again, impeachment is an extreme measure for extreme times.
Dave Massie: Given the mood of the Republicans, it seems to me that they can save time and show support for the troops by simply cancelling the debate. Go ahead and impeach Clinton; just don't debate the vote. After all, they have made up their minds, they have evaluated some of the evidence, given public forum to opinions they felt worthy and, perhaps most importantly, they really don't like Clinton. So, why wast valuable time; they could be back home working the focus groups and honing their image. Simply vote to impeach, show support for the bombing, and get home before time for that all-important last minute Christmas shopping is exhausted!
Washington DC: Impeachment is a political process, not a judicial judgment of right or wrong doing. In a democracy, the populous dictate the outcome. Congress should proceed in representing the public's opinion, or admit that they do not care about their constituency, but only their interest is personal.
college park - re: there but for the grace of God go I...
NY NY :
To Boston MA
Ashford, NC: To get back on track, as Boston suggested (something that discussions in Congress should do more often). There is ample evidence that the President lied under oath. If we allow this to go unpunished, the pillars of our judical system will fall and we will be left with a country in which justice is not upheld. Clinton knew he was lying. Let him suffer the consequences. He knew what they were. Let us maintain the justice system for all of our sakes.
Athens, OH: When the bombing started in Iraq two days ago, the very first question on everyone's lips was: "is this a diversion?" The two words Clinton cannot utter are: "trust me." Going ahead with the debate might get us beyond the situation we have now, where even members of his own party say the President is not worthy of our trust. I say keep it going, get it over with as soon as possible.
Boston formulates the question very well - did Clinton lie under oath or not? But there's another question equally important - What was the lie about and is this what impeachment should be about?
To Salt Lake City: The U.S. has engaged in numerous military actions that were not first sanctioned nor authorized by Congress. Remember a small island called Grenada? This is not a declared WAR, and does not require Congressional approval. It's a calculated military action undertaken by the U.S. and others to defend the world from a madman.
We have an hour remaining in this discussion. We have gotten nearly 500 messages so far, expressing a wide range of viewpoints. Keep writing, and please feel free to suggest different angles to discuss.
Rochester, NY: Livingston withheld this vital information about his affairs until the very last minute and when he was sure he could no longer hide it. Doesn't this sound familiar?
Vienna, Va.: I agree that our representatives must vote their beliefs.....and I also agree that they should not vote the polls. However, they know that the test will come with their next election run, and I'm sure none of them are looking forward to it. What an unfortunate situation for us all.
To NY, NY
washingtonpost.com: A reader from Pennsylvania writes: "The comments in this forum show that we Americans are harshly divided and that words alone fail to temper the factionalism."
While opinion here is certainly split, this seems like a good time to remind everyone that this isn't a scientific poll or other accurate representation of public opinion. It's simply a forum for the the exchange of ideas.
A reader from Sewanee, Texas, would like to know what you all think of the "censure option." Should it be considered?
Boise, ID: Rochester - Livingston isn't the only one who held off his virtuous honesty until it could be no longer contained...Henry Hyde, Dan Burton, and of course my own lovely representative Ms Chenoweth! THAT'S what I find so disturbing in all of this - Clinton's behavior cannot be defended - yet his detractors are incredibly flawed accusers. This whole issue is a fiasco and the country needs to get it over with.
American citizen in Holland:
I'd like to respond to a few comments about my earlier statements.
Salt Lake City, Utah:
To Waldorf, Md
College Park, MD: Censure by the House of Representatives was considered and ruled out. Not to say that it won't be considered again by the Senate.
Rochester, NY: Censure is appropriate in this case and it wouldn't tie the country up in impeachment trials for months and months. It seems the best for the country.
New York, NY: Yes they should continue with the impeachment process. It's obvious Clinton isn't going to do the honorable thing - resign. I think we're seeing the actions of a very desperate man. And a desperate man shouldn't be the Commander in Chief.
As a foreigner visiting the US for the past 6 months, I sometimes feel like an anthropologist watching the rituals of a remote tribe.
Vienna, Va: sigh...."Dumbing down of the impeachment process"? Methinks some of us must be underestimating this process. This will have ramifications that go far beyond William's problems....precedents are being set here. But the process of impeachment is not being 'dumbed down'.
Baltimore, MD: I can't wait for the day when the next Democratic controlled congress gets to bully the next Republican President out of office for purely partisan reasons. We can thank this Congress for eroding what the framers of the Constitution intended. It is this COngress, not the President, that has compromised the integrity of this nation.
San Francisco, CA:
Censure is unconstitutional and useless. There should be a straight impeachment vote. If he is not fit to hold office, he should be impeached. If he is, then there is no reason to censure him. The censure office is a face saving scam of politicians who despise making decisions.
Nashville, TN: Ignoring the public's clear and ongoing opposition to this impeachment process is an "abuse of power" far greater than anything the President has done.
Silver Spring, Maryland:
By all means, proceed with the impeachment proceedings. If Clinton is removed, which is improbable, Gore will press on from there. Clinton is not an Emperor, merely a man who wanted the honor to hold the Presidential position. If it is decided that he is unfit to hold it, he should be replaced.
Ft. Worth, TX: In my mind the Impeachment vote and Censure are two different and distinct things. The Impeachment vote should continue and the Representatives and Senators need to decide and lay that to rest. The Censure should also be considered to let the man know that we the citizens do not and will not condone that kind of behavior.
To NY, Boston, and Rochester:
Broken Bow, Nebraska!: It's utterly amazing, but I think we're witnessing yet again the astonishing ability of the Republican party to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I don't know anyone who defends Clinton, yet I also don't know anyone who thinks he should be impeached for lying about sex. I thought the last election showed the majority of Americans feel this way too - yet the GOP insists on pursuing this to oblivion.
A nation that can't stand the stark and naked light of honest debate on the floor of Congress is not likely to survive real threats to the nation's integrity. That this nation has stood for 223 years is a testament to the truth that we are much stronger than we realize.
Bozeman, Mont.: Censure is both extra-constitutional and unconstitutional. It is extra-constitutional because it is not provided for in the Constitution or the rules of either the House or Senate. It is unconstitutional because it is a bill of attainder.
Annandale, VA: The Impeachment proceedings should stop, because they never should have started. This is not a legitimate Constitutional act, but a partisan lynching, driven not by any Constitutional imperative but the anti-democratic inclinations of the Republicans. Americans will remember these events when the Republican party chose to put their own political inclinations ahead of those of the nation. That this proceeding is going on while we are engaged in military action on foreign soil is merely an illustration of the lack of fitness to lead that these jackals in the GOP have shown.
Glasgow, Scotland, Great Britain:
What are you doing to your country? At a time when British and American forces are fighting for our freedoms, your politicians are squabbling over a sexual peccadillo. You may call it European "laissez-faire", but from our perspective Clinton has been a good President and leader. Sure, he's made mistakes - who hasn't.But he made them in his personal life. Don't confuse the human man with his office. And don't ignore the consequences of impeachment. It took America ten years to re-gain the World moral and political ascendancy after Nixon resigned. You are now in danger of throwing the baby out with the bath-water.
Waldorf, MD: SLC: I agree that the impeachment vote should continue. It has nothing to do with our the ability of our military forces to successfully carry out their mission in the Gulf. Also, if Congress's progress on the impeachment issue is anything to go by, I wouldn't want to count on them for swift action in a military emergency!
Seattle, WA: I agree with San Francisco. It doesn't matter what Clinton lied about. He lied under oath and that is perjury. Other members of Congress and many Americans have had affairs. This is pathetic. However, you cannot compare these cases to Clinton. These people did not lie under oath. Clinton did so repeatedly.
As we enter the last half-hour of discussion, let's look more closely at the balance-of-power issues. Impeachment, censure, independent counsels ... do these tools excessively weaken the power of the president? Or does the chief executive hold too much power?
Bozeman, Mont.: Glasgow does not have an appreciation for the rule of law. I agree that the President has done good things, especially with respect to N. Ireland. But do we make an exception to the rule of law because, gee, he's done so much good? This country and the presidency is not dependent on who occupies the office as much as it depends on the rule of law to support it. We have our priorities straight.
Alexandria, VA: Why s there no middle ground here? While I voted for Clinton and am very liberal, I have said from the beginning that he should be impeached if found to have committed any obstruction of justice or perjury. At the same time, though, I understand enough of politics and religion to believe that the attack on Iraq was needed when it occurred, regardless of appearances domestically. Take off your partisan blinders, people!
Ft. Worth, TX: These tools censure, independent counsels, and etc. are good tools. They represent what makes this a strong country. Everyone is held equal. We are ruled by the law, not by some King, Queen, Monarch, dictator. This is as it should be freedom for all- the people of the world. These tools help ensure that that freedom continues.
Belle Fourche, SD:
Bozeman - please correct me if I'm wrong - but wasn't the American revolution just a wee bit against the law in its time?
NY, NY : The Republicans will get their man, but at a heavy political price. If you think Gingrich's first hundred days were tough, just imagine Livingston's.
Lexington,KY: The president's powers are far greater than they ever should have been, as are the powers of Congress and the Supreme Court. In our country, the states are supposed to hold any powers not specifically granted to the federal government by the Constitution. Any powers not granted to the state governments by their constitutions goes to the individuals themselves. This is no longer the case. We have let the federal government become our master and we effectively allow it to grant us rights, rather than us granting it rights.
New Orleans: The balance of power was once held as the beauty of our democracy. Yet with the growth of the Republican Party dating back to the Reagan appointments to the Supreme Court, we can fear that the intentions of the balance of power can be subverted do to political allegiance. By no means is this an impeachable offense. The odds of him being found guilty in a court of law are slim to none!
Philadelphia PA 19118: The House decision to impeach will certainly bring the country ever closer to the parliamentary system of government, making the majority party in congress the center of our political life.
Vienna, VA (another one):
I just want to comment on the perception that many people seem to have that Clinton should be impeached for perjury. Impeachment is not designed as a punishment. Law enforcement is expressly outside the purview of Congress.
Reply to Bozeman, MT
Bozeman, Mont.: The independent counsel statute has got to go. I support impeachment in this case, but I think that aside, independent counsels are generally corrosive to the function of government. If there is something so grave to the county committed by member of the executive branch, Congress can investigate it.
Alexandria, VA: It was not appropriate for the country to hold elections during the Second World War, nor to continue the constitutional process of impeachment during the Vietnam war.
Mr. Clinton is not above the law, which recognizes no limit to when Congress can fulfill its function of debating impeachment. He is not below the law, however, and calls for his resignation demand an extra-constitutional solution to the same extent that calls for censure.
Port Tobacco: Yes, definitely yes the impeachment proceedings should continue. I will always remember him waiving his finger at us on TV just lying and lying. If I get called to testify in court, can I lie if the question is embarrassing? Absolutely not! This is crazy, he doesn't deserve to sit up there in that oval office and represent us. Get him outta-there!!!
Champaign, IL: The job of the congress of the United States is to represent the people of the United States and not to impose their (selectively applied) partisan values while so much serious work needs to be done.
College Park, MD: Nebraska!, you're overestimating the power of Congress. Impeachment means about the same thing as censure, as far as I can see. The big difference is that impeachment is part of a process prescribed in the Constitution. Yes, the majority of Congress believes that our President committed high crimes and misdemeanors, per their definition. I agree that it is a little tougher to define 'impeachable offenses' than it is to define "is" , "alone" or "sex".
The balance of power can once again be set right by removing the person who would reign as "president for life" if he had his way. Our President has always been seen as a servant of the people. The current occupant of OUR White House would like to have all of US serve HIM (for a reasonable minimum wage, of course...)
Washington, DC: The idea of censure should be considered. However, should it go forward, is the President obligated to pay a couple of million dollars to fix his wrongdoing? Did he really cost the taxpayers $40 million or was it Starr's "enthusiasm" for the investigation? Why are we so prone to believing that money will right a wrong? Also, we must remember that Clinton could be prosecuted at the end of his term.
To Vienna, VA (another one):
Rochester, NY: One last note. When it all boils down, none of us are perfect. Don't forget that we are all in this together, despite our differences. In times of despair and disaster, we usually see towns and cities pulling together, not apart as we are now. Sometimes we all just need to pull back and realize that these are all just a bunch of politicians and are all about as crooked and imperfect as they come. At this time of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, etc., we all need to remember what's important...each other.
washingtonpost.com: Thank you all for another lively and well-informed discussion. We've enjoyed it thoroughly, and we hope you have, too. We hope you'll join us again. If you have any suggestions on the format or content of the forum, please send them to email@example.com
(A note to those of you who complained that we were biased toward one point of view: We got about an equal number of complaints from both sides.)