Office of president diminishes in
eyes of young American generation
The Michigan Daily - Monday, September 21, 1998 - 7A
WASHINGTON (AP) The presi-
dency towers in the eyes of children, a
l1y understood but awesome job
w ere George Washington was brave,
Abe Lincoln was honest and the aura of
celebHty sparkles like fairy dust.
Now they are seeing a different side.
Kids who knew little more about the
White House than the habits of Buddy
and Socks now know more than adults
wished. "The president has another
friend he loves besides his wife," a first-
grader blurted out in a Virginia religious
class. as recalled by his instructor.
ome educators worry that under-
n athall the teen titillation provided by
the Monica Lewinsky investigation,
President Clinton's troubles may erode
confidence in the office, not just the
man, for youth as well as for adults.
"If anybody is going to put the nail
into the coffin of the imperial presiden-
cy, it- will be Bill Clinton," Princeton
University historian Fred Greenstein
W "He's a reminder that politicians
Continued from Page IA
the Lewinsky affair of 1998.
For the pint-sized, a president can be
an important figure of security, even
"somewhere between daddy and God,"
said Herbert Atherton of the Center for
Civic Education,'which designs curricu-
lum and texts for civic instruction from
Even among the college-bound, he
said, a much-studied disenchantment
with public service and politics could be
taking another hit. "It's too early to say,"
he ventured. "It can be fairly assumed
that it's not going to make a difficult sit-
Among early teens who are getting a
more nuanced education about U.S. his-
tory than younger children, it may be
disillusioning but not so shocking that
Clinton would lie.
Many adolescents use a finely tuned
sense of justice and fairness to judge
everything from world events to the
contents of their school lunch, says Tedd
Levy, president of the National Council
for the Social Studies and a Norwalk,
Conn., middle-school teacher on leave.
Clinton's crisis appears to have set off
that righteous tripwire for many, he says.
But he adds:"I've heard comments like,
'If he lied, everybody does it.'
"That's a very poor way to look at the
world and it's a very adolescent way to
make decisions:'he said. "But it's wide-
Evan Sisley of Fairfax, Va., is one 12-
year-old who hasn't yielded to cynicism.
He surprised his parents by taking notes
during Clinton's TV address on an
"inappropriate relationship" with Ms.
Lewinsky, then wrote to the president
asking: "How are you a public figure
and a role model?
"At my age I am taught to tell the
truth," the letter says. "I expect a person
in your office to tell the truth. Also to be
more direct and honest to people you
"All I am asking you is to tell the
His mother, Ava, was teaching a reli-
gious course at her Catholic Church
when a little boy suddenly asked about
the president's "friend"
"That's not right," the boy said.
Democratic Rep. Jim Moran of
VirL;inia. a Clinton ally on policy and the
father of two grade-school children, men-
tioned the impact on youngsters when he
suggested the president consider resign-
ing. "My concern is what it does to the
presidency, what it does to all those kids
out there who strive to be president."
Tish Raff, assistant principal at
Sequoyah Elementary School in
Derwood, Md., says pupils are trying to
understand perjury and obstruction of
justice. For many, the presidency is
barely on their radar screen, she said.
"But I do think ... kids who are aware of
the full nature of the events are shocked
in a way that many adults are."
At Hillview Middle School in Menlo
Park, Calif., Carolyn Malquist says her
Grade 8 pupils already knew presidents
aren't perfect. That is due, in part, to a
change in many schools away from the
old verities that showed historical fig-
ures as flawless.
Continued from Page IA
1L cwinsky'5 dresses belong,_s to Clinton.
Clinton made a brief appearance yes-
terday morning at a fund-raiser aboard a
Potomac River cruise ship and then he
and his wife attended services at Foundry
United Methodist Church, the first time
since before his Aug. 17 grand jury testi:.
mony. Today, when the 2,800 pages of
documents and videotape are released,
Clinton will be in New York City
addressing the United Nations.
A key senator suggested on the
Sunday talk shows that Clinton imme-
diately volunteer to testify to the House
Judiciary Committee and answer all
questions fully to spare the country fur-
"I believe the president would be well-
served to explain exactly what he did,
exactly what he was thinking, do it to the
Judiciary Committee and let's vote and
let's move on one way or the other" said
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), a Clinton
"The nation is being ill served by this
political water torture that is taking
place in a highly calculated, highly par-
tisan way," Kerry told NBC regarding
Congress' selected release of evidence.
Kerry's call for voluntary Clinton
testimony was embraced by several col-
leagues, including Republican Sen.
John Ashcroft, a presidential aspirant
and harsh Clinton critic, and House
Judiciary Committee members Barney
Frank (D-Mass), and Lindsey Graham
Uneasy about defending some of
Clinton's legalistic answers, Democrats
are discussing whether to concede
Clinton committed perjury and accept
Lewinsky's version of their sexual
encounters even though Clinton dis-
putes her allegations that he touched
her and sexually stimulated her.
"1m almost willing to say, 'Let's
stipulate that President Clinton touched
Monica Lewinsky where he shouldn't
have,"' Rep. Robert Wexlecr (D-Fl~t :
said on NBC.
Two sources familiar with the mtt
ial Starr turned over to Congress told
The Associated Press it includes an FBI -
interview report of an Arkansas woman
whom Jones' lawyers sought to ques-
tion about possible sexual misconduct
by the president two decades ago.
The sources, who spoke on condition
of anonymity, said the FBI report is
"inconclusive" about whether anything
improper happened, declining to be more
specific. The report is not among the.
materials scheduled for release today.
In an event unparalleled in history,
the unfiltered footage of the presi-
dent's grand jury testimony will be
aired by cable news channels simul
taneous with its release, expected
shortly after the breakfast hour
today. To prepare viewers, CNN
aired special statements yesterday
warning that the video, which it
plans to run in its entirety, contains
"both language and descriptions"
that "may be offensive to some view-
ers and unsuitable to children."
Congress risked a political back-
lash by releasing a videotape that 52
percent of Americans said they
planned to watch but that 69 percent
felt was unnecessary to release,
according to a CBS survey.
The CBS poll indicated Congress'
approval rating had dropped from 56
percent earlier last week to 44 percent,
and that 59 percent of the public
believed the tape's release had more to
do with embarrassing the president
than letting the public judge him. The
White House sharpened its attack yes-
terday along those lines.
"They (lawmakers) decided thntV.
rather than just doing a document dump
they would do a garbage dump (toda ,
and I think people are going to wonder
about that," said White House Deputy,,
Chief of Staff John Podesta.
"'h1 Judiciary Committee was very clearly faction-
alized, said University of Wisconsin professor
Stanley Kutler, author of "The Wars of Watergate."
Indeed, many believe the Democratic majority
that oversaw the committee's Watergate hearings
onstrated their partisanship even before the
ceedings started when they adopted a new inter-
pretation of the impeachment process. Scrapping
the narrow doctrine that impeachment was designed
to cover only indictable criminal offenses, the com-
mittee staff staked out a broader view, defining the
proceedings as "a constitutional safety valve ...
flexible enough to cope with exigencies not now
In fact, partisanship has been a hallmark of
politically significant impeachment cases through
U.S. history. At the 1805 impeachment trial of
Federalist Chief Justice Samuel Chase. not a single
Federalist senator voted for conviction (Chase
remained in office). Similarly, at the 1868 trial of
President Andrew Johnson, a Democrat, no
Democratic senator voted for his removal (Johnson
Still, the hostility between the two parties has been
particularly savage during Watergate and the Lewinsky
case, partly because Nixon and Clinton are politicians
who bring out the deepest resentments among their
"What Nixon was to liberal Democrats, Clinton is to
conservative Republicans: said American Conservative
Union chair David Keene.
Nixon had antagonized liberals from the start of his
career by his use of what they viewed as red-baiting
tactics in his pursuit of suspected Communist sympa-
thizers. Democrats on the 1974 Judiciary Committee
included, according to Kutler's study. "hard-core liber-
als who had grown up hating Richard Nixon (and)
who saw their moment" to exact revenge.
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OPENINGS AT INNOVATIVE animal
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kennel assistant. Apply in person. 2200
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ORIGINAL COTTAGE INN right on
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WORK STUDY LAB assistant needed in
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