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No Consensus on Clinton Punishment

December 14, 1998

HOPE, Ark. (AP) _ Fire him or forgive him? Americans can’t agree.

Joe Warren says that in his 20-plus years as a cop, lying in court would have gotten him fired _ and that’s what he wants Congress to do to President Clinton.

``If he would have simply told the truth to begin with, it would have saved us all this trouble,″ said Warren, 62, behind the counter of the archery store he now owns in the president’s home town.

But in Cushing, Okla., Faye Bevel said that while she believes the president lied about his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, she also believes too much is being made of it.

``He’s told a story, but anybody would lie about something like that. Wouldn’t you?″ the 85-year-old said Sunday.

The House is expected to vote Thursday on four articles of impeachment alleging Clinton committed perjury, obstructed justice and misused or abused the power of his office. A simple majority _ 50 percent plus one vote _ is all that’s needed to send the matter to the Senate. There, a two-thirds vote would be required to remove Clinton from office.

``Whatever happens, I just wish it would happen to get it over with,″ said Mark Veland, 27, a construction worker in Omaha, Neb. ``I think most people outside of Washington have had it.″ He said Clinton should resign, but believes the president will remain in office with some sort of reprimand.

Regardless of the end result, the House Judiciary Committee already has branded Clinton unworthy of holding office. Is the legacy Clinton hoped to leave _ initiatives on race, a balanced budget, a strong peacetime economy _ now a footnote?

Dan Hinkle, an insurance agent from Rockford, Ohio, said Clinton will be remembered more for the Lewinsky affair than any of his public actions.

``His morals are incredibly low,″ Hinkle said. ``I think he deserves to be impeached. He shouldn’t be treated any differently than anyone else.″

Jerry Frederick of Rockford, a retired accountant who also wants the president out of the White House, said ``If it was anyone else, they’d be in jail right now.″

``It’s not right. The president ought to serve as an example. The country isn’t moral anymore and someone has to set a better example,″ he said.

But in Oregon, Sally Mackson of Portland said Clinton’s accomplishments would overcome the affair.

``Clinton probably will be remembered for awhile as a pretty good leader who made a mistake, then as just a pretty good leader,″ she said.

At Philadelphia’s Eat At Joe’s Bar and Grill, Ida Marie Taylor said Clinton’s problems weren’t the nation’s problems.

``Everybody should just mind their own business and let the man keep doing his job,″ she said. ``Whatever’s going on between him and that young lady, that should be between him and that young lady. His wife should say something about him cheating on her, not us. I would vote for Clinton again.″

At an Albany, N.Y., bowling alley, George Hoffman sprayed disinfectant in a pair of bowling shoes and said he could understand why the president lied. ``He didn’t want to tell his wife. I’d do the same thing, if my wife was standing right there,″ he said. ``All men would lie.″

Wade Morrison of Annandale, Va., waiting for a plane at Albany International Airport, shook his head, saddened that Clinton’s troubles had come to this.

``I don’t believe this is what the framers of the Constitution had in mind when they talked about impeachment,″ Morrison said. ``I don’t feel this is an impeachable offense, but we’d be better off if he’d just resign.″

At the Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock _ Clinton’s home church _ Betty Freeland said Clinton’s behavior was immoral but that he should not be forced from office.

``As far as the church is concerned, one month and a half ago Clinton wrote a letter and asked for forgiveness. We are not here to judge people. We forgave him as he would forgive us,″ she said. ``His judgment is between he and God.″

``He said he was sorry; I think we just need to get on with it,″ said Kelly Donnelly, 29, of Bluebell, Pa., as she helped her 3-year-old daughter Rachel toss pennies in the fountain at the Gallery Mall in central Philadelphia.

And in Clinton, N.Y., Joseph Cifarelli of the Clinton Fish and Game Club said Congress was doing the right thing by pursuing impeachment.

``Is it OK to have an affair with an intern in your office? Why would it be OK in the office of the president?″ asked 60-year-old Joseph Cifarelli. ``I think they’re doing the right thing. We have a Constitution that has to be adhered to.″

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