Congressional censure with de facto immunity from both Congress and Ken Starr, as suggested in "The shame of President Clinton" (Editorials, Sept. 28), won't do the job. America would still have a weakened President, with no credibility, until January, 2001. Even if President Clinton should somehow mend his ways, the questions raised by the Starr report would still be hanging over America like a dark cloud. Further, we could expect a lengthy, nasty, political debate before Congress could agree upon a censure resolution.
President Clinton should be offered a full pardon if he will resign immediately. In addition, the Starr investigation would be terminated with prejudice when he resigns. Whitewater, Travelgate, Monica Lewinsky, etc., would then become history. The government could then fully focus on the important problems facing our country and the world. America has more than enough problems for a full-time President and a Congress with no impeachment-related distractions.
Kenneth R. Veraska
Your editorial proposes what I believe is a dangerous compromise. The central question is: Does perjury by a President qualify as "high crimes and misdemeanors"? Because it occurred in a case of sexual harassment, many feel it does not. While censure with immunity might satisfy those who say "it's only sex," it would ignore the damage to our legal system set by such a precedent. In the future, would any other citizen be treated more harshly if guilty of lying under oath?
Recent high-profile trials have demonstrated success at "jury nullification"; we now face the question of "election nullification." But we must face it. That Congress uses polls to guide its judgment is shameful. Clinton's popularity for the "job he is doing" is not unlike the investment market that rewards or punishes short-term performance with little regard for the long term. Yet, after Clinton, we will have to live in the long term, as will our children.
Is perjury by a sitting President, for whatever reason, a high crime against this country? I believe it is, and warrants removal from office. To censure might even prove dangerous. Censure would damage the ego of a President who in many ways is exceptionally talented. To go forward with censure would leave us with a disquieting question. Would the remaining years of such an administration reflect the talent--or the ego? Other than resignation, there is no alternative to impeachment.
William G. Isherwood
I disagree with your editorial. Every organization has a rule that such a relationship between a superior and a subordinate, if proven, will be suitable grounds for dismissal of the superior. The chaos that results if that rule is not enforced should be obvious to corporate, governmental, institutional, and military leaders.
The Constitution gives Congress the power to remove the President from office if he is found guilty of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. I think the founders knew that if the President is allowed to escape the proper punishment for even a minor crime, then an ever-widening gap will grow in which the President can be above the law.
Finally, people are often like the child with a toothache: The child wants a shot of painkiller and doesn't want pain from the drilling and filling necessary to cure the toothache. Our leaders must educate the people that we need the proper solution to the problem and to avoid the less painful but temporary fix.