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Hyde’s District Split Over Affair

September 18, 1998

WOOD DALE, Ill. (AP) _ Robert Ceh pictures clean streets and good roads when he thinks of Rep. Henry Hyde. Lisa Olenski thinks of a politically motivated hypocrite.

The two views, offered Thursday from the tree-lined, middle-class communities of Hyde’s suburban Chicago district, reveal a deep split in opinion over the Republican congressman’s admission of a 30-year-old affair.

It is Hyde, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who would oversee any impeachment proceedings against President Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky case.

Ceh, a 69-year-old resident of Hyde’s hometown of Wood Dale, said Hyde’s affair doesn’t tarnish the congressman’s record of accomplishment or affect his ability to lead.

``This is 30 years later, so I don’t think it has any bearing on today,″ Ceh said Thursday as he left a Wood Dale grocery store. ``I did dumb things 30 years ago. I see no problems with it at all.″

The affair, first reported by the Internet magazine Salon, took place from 1965 to 1969. It began when Hyde, now 74, was 41 and the woman _ then known as Cherie Snodgrass _ was a dozen years younger. Both were married.

``The statute of limitations has long since passed on my youthful indiscretions,″ said Hyde, whose wife died in 1992.

Olenski, 24, of Bloomingdale, paused from her morning run to offer a big dose of cynicism about the affair.

``I think he’s a hypocrite, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the other people who are attacking (Clinton) have had affairs also,″ she said.

But Olenski said she doesn’t think the disclosure will affect Hyde’s job overseeing the hearings: ``I think it’s so politically motivated that they’re not objective anyway.″

Over at Joe’s Hair Styling in neighboring Addison, barber Don Vertone said there is no comparison between Hyde’s situation and Clinton’s.

``I think it’s a lot of baloney,″ said Vertone, 62. Hyde ``didn’t go before an investigating committee and lie.″

At a doughnut shop, Don Cerceo, 75, offered a different view: ``He was supposed to be the good guy. Turns out he was worse than Clinton. He shouldn’t have taken that job knowing what he had done.″

``Looks like half these guys don’t know how to keep their zippers up,″ Ed Urbanek, 79, added with a chuckle. ``What’s that old biblical saying about casting stones?″

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