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Americans Divided Over Impeachment

December 13, 1998

ELMHURST, Ill. (AP) _ As the House gets ready to take up impeachment, Americans are angry, approving and downright confused over just how Bill Clinton’s agony could have gotten to this point.

People were anything but agreed on what should be done Sunday in this overwhelmingly Republican suburb where House Judiciary Chairman Henry Hyde has been the congressman for 23 years.

``Sometimes I wonder if history won’t laugh at the enormous thing we’ve made of something that _ even though I certainly don’t condone it _ happens all the time,″ said the Rev. Deborah Jarvis, 52, as she prepared to preside over services at Bethel United Church of Christ.

Down the street at Redeemer Lutheran Church, though, Lloyd Dunlap said he was glad to see the impeachment process conducted ``with the soberness and seriousness that it ought to be.″

``I would remove him from office,″ said Dunlap, 58, an advertising executive. ``If he were an executive of a major corporation or a general in the Army, he would have been removed long ago.″

Many Americans seem to be bored by the furor or are tuning out because they’re so turned off by the sexual details and partisan wrangling. Still, strong emotions are apparent.

``Either we have a compulsive liar as president or a person who can’t accept responsibility,″ declared Gary Satern, 57, of Bismarck, N.D., who favored impeaching Clinton. ``It’s an embarrassing point in our history.″

In Richmond, Va., Frank Cowan, 62, heading for services at First Baptist Church, said the Judiciary Committee made the right decision in sending four articles of impeachment to the full House for a floor vote.

``Faith in the law and truth to the law is at the core of the foundation of this country,″ he declared.

But Boston restaurateur Bud Thornton, 41, said impeachment would be wrong and partisanship has gone too far. ``The bottom line is that the Republicans have never liked Clinton from day one,″ he said.

``The people voting for articles of impeachment want vengeance,″ said Susan Longstaff, a Minneapolis fourth-grade teacher.

In the home district of Rep. Bob Livingston, R-La., who will succeed Newt Gingrich next month as House speaker, Lavelle Cannon, a woman in her 50s, described Clinton as ``a poor excuse of a man.″

``I’m sick of it, but, more, I’m sick of him,″ she said, sitting in a mall food court in the New Orleans suburb of Metairie.

``I want to seem him get impeached,″ said Liam Dougherty, sitting nearby. ``I think he’s a liar.″

Many in Hyde’s district, however, said Clinton hadn’t done anything all that bad and ought to be forgiven.

``Everybody lies about sex, and that’s what he did,″ lawyer Stacey Rago, 35, said as she arrived at church. She dismissed any suggestion that such sentiments might be out of place on the steps of a church.

``People who are Christian make mistakes, just like people who aren’t Christian,″ she said. ``In fact, that’s all the more reason to go to church.″

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