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Students' opinions of Clinton vary in wake of Starr Report

By Michael Lafleur
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 14, 1998
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In the wake of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's recently released, sexually explicit report on President Clinton's affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, several UA students said Clinton's personal life is his own business.

Out of 18 University of Arizona students surveyed about the upcoming congressional hearings on Clinton's alleged perjury during Grand Jury proceedings, 13 students said the president's philandering does not amount to an impeachable abuse of power.

"What goes on in his bedroom has nothing to do with the way he runs the country," said undeclared freshman Damara Jackson. "It's too bad that people will remember him for this now."

Undeclared sophomore Robert Bittner agreed.

"I don't think his abuse of power was that great," Bittner said. "Other people (politicians) have done worse - just because his misconduct was made public should not matter."

Nationwide, the reaction to Starr's report was mixed. Most polls suggest the public continues to give Clinton high marks for job performance, yet wants to see him punished in some way.

A CBS News poll, taken Saturday, found that 60 percent of those responding believed Starr included numerous lurid sexual details in his report to embarrass the president. Only 33 percent believed it was to prove perjury.

But in an ABC News poll, 53 percent said they favored impeachment hearings for Clinton.

In other polls, a majority - 56 percent in the CBS poll and 59 percent in a CNN poll - said they favor censure rather than impeachment.

Starr, in a report to Congress released Friday, alleged 11 grounds for impeaching Clinton, including perjuring himself and obstructing justice by concealing his affair with Lewinsky. In two separate rebuttals, White House officials said nothing in Clinton's actions warrants impeachment.

The report includes details of Clinton's alleged sexual relationship with Lewinsky described in explicit detail and his later denials under oath.

Even though most surveyed students said they did not believe Clinton deserved to be impeached, some disapproved of his conduct and expressed a desire to see him punished.

Animal science freshman Aimee Gordon said Clinton's apology was insufficient.

"I think impeachment would be too far, but I think something needs to be done," Gordon said.

Peter Goudinoff, a UA political science professor, said if Clinton resigned, he would likely become a political martyr.

"The Republicans could lose Congress (in the next election) if Clinton resigns," Goudinoff said, adding outcries for Clinton's impeachment are motivated by partisan politics.

"Such a heavy punishment as impeachment would be absurd," Goudinoff said. "It has only been attempted once in history (Andrew Jackson for alleged corruption) and that was after the Civil War during the Reconstruction. How would history look on a president being impeached over a blow job?"

Business economics freshman Greg Dixon said Clinton deserved to be impeached if he has broken the law.

"I think if he broke the law he should be impeached," Dixon said. "He is an example for our country. He shouldn't be put on a pedestal. If he broke the law he should be punished."

Gerontology graduate student Terry Harper said that Clinton's offenses are not as bad as Starr made them out to be.

"I was around when Nixon was facing impeachment, and this doesn't compare," Harper said.

Michael Lafleur can be reached via e-mail at Michael.Lafleur@wildcat.arizona.edu.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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