World on Clinton: the deflating of a superpower

August 20, 1998

HERE IS a sampling of what newspapers and cartoonists around the globe are saying about Bill Clinton after his grand jury testimony and televised speech Monday night:

The Age, Melbourne, Australia:

The so-called Bill and Monica show has given comfort not only to Mr. Clinton's enemies at home but to those abroad who are only too willing to see it as confirmation of the wickedness at the heart of the world's most successful nation. More than that, it has absorbed far too much of the energy of the President and his advisers when there are a great number of trouble-spots around the world demanding the attention of the only remaining superpower.

The Daily Yomiuri, Japan:

Clinton, who became the first U.S. president to testify on his behalf in a grand jury criminal investigation, has disgraced both himself and his country. ...

As leader of the world's only superpower, the president of the United States is expected to deal with international problems ranging from economic instability in Russia to peace talks in the Middle East.

The international community will be paying close attention to see whether Clinton will be able to put the matter behind him and return to the role that is expected of him.

Philippine Daily Inquirer,

Manila:

Starr and Clinton's political foes will, of course, invoke the rule of law to justify their obsession with embarrassing Clinton and perhaps stripping him of his high office. But while some people may marvel at the persistence of the American prosecutors and the lengths they would go to prove that no one is above the law, what sticks out from this sorry enterprise is the hypocrisy of its many leaders.

As French actress Catherine Deneuve observed earlier in this sorry episode, all the pornography in the world comes out of the United States, but the president is being held to a ridiculously high standard of morality. Some people who protest feebly or even wink at their own children's promiscuity are now claiming to be scandalized by their president's sexual dalliance.

The Hindu, Banglore, India:

In the two years remaining of his second Presidential term, Mr. Clinton can no more expect to enjoy the trust of his people or that of the world. . . . By his obfuscation and months of denial of the truth, Mr. Clinton has betrayed the trust that his people had reposed in him, not once but twice.

A willing suspension of disbelief against such circumstantial evidence has been poorly rewarded. The patience of the Americans must be wearing thin, though a booming economy that takes care of their daily life will blunt a campaign for his resignation.

The Daily Telegraph, London:

Anyone who wishes America well must feel uneasy. People sense that the Monica Lewinsky affair is not a unique aberration in a career of probity. It feels more like the tip of an iceberg. It is highly unlikely that Kenneth Starr's investigation will come up with this and nothing else. Bill Clinton has been weaving a tangled web, and he is not about to escape. He may survive, but he cannot recover.

The Mirror, London:

Mr. Clinton tries to excuse his behaviour by saying that even the president is allowed to have a private life. So he is.

But that cannot include having sex on the job and then lying about it. For neither of those are private activities for a president of the United States. . . . Last night, his wife Hillary said she would stand by him, even though he had lied to her. But just because she forgives him does not excuse him, either. The most powerful man in the world has confessed to being a womaniser and, far worse, has been exposed as a liar.

This is not Watergate. That involved a president criminally subverting the political system.

But Zippergate is morally wrong and weakens Mr. Clinton when he needs to give leadership.

In America and around the world, his authority cannot be the same. Not when everyone now knows how be jumped at the chance of getting involved with Monica Lewinsky. This is a sad and shaming time for the presidency.

Trinidad Guardian,

Port-of-Spain:

In insisting that his relationship with Lewinsky is a private matter between himself, his wife and his daughter and his God, Clinton may well consider himself particularly unfortunate since several of his predecessors in the White House, including Roosevelt, Eisenhower and Kennedy, have "enjoyed" illicit sexual relationships without becoming the victims of public scandal.

Fortunately for them, the American press was at that time far more conservative and felt it best to leave the private affairs of the nation's heroes alone.

Jordan Times, Amman

It will be recalled that when the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that [Paula] Jones could sue Clinton for actions she alleged he committed against her while he was Governor of Arkansas, they did so because they believed that such a case would not place undo strain on the president's ability to carry out his responsibilities. It is now clear that the Supreme Court was in error.

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