Europeans fear crippling of U.S. power Newspapers urge Clinton to resign and condemn report as moralizing

September 13, 1998|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

PARIS -- The Starr report on President Clinton dominated news reports in Europe on Friday night and yesterday.

"The Clinton affair creates a climate of crisis in the world," the leading French daily Le Monde reported yesterday, linking the crisis in Russia, the collapse of Latin American stock markets and the presidential scandal.

Chancellor Helmut Kohl of Germany, a close friend of Clinton's, repeated his earlier fear that the world situation was too complicated and dangerous for the presidency to be paralyzed over a sex scandal.

"At present it is of the utmost importance that the only world power can fully live up to its duties," he said in an interview with the newspaper Bild am Sonntag, to be published today.

"Asia, Africa, India, there are problems everywhere," Kohl said, according to a text of the interview the newspaper released yesterday. "I can only hope that the turbulence in Washington can be put at rest as quickly as possible so that the president is fully capable of performing his tasks."

Britons, no innocents when it comes to sexual scandals in political life, found the accounts in the report and what it might mean for Clinton dominating the front pages of their newspapers yesterday.

In editorials, some major newspapers urged Clinton to resign or to step aside temporarily so that the United States' world leadership is not held hostage by his problems. The Daily Telegraph said, "The fact that Clinton, who has been so reluctant to face or admit the truth, is ready to fight on nevertheless is the strongest piece of evidence so far that he has no understanding of what he had done."

The tabloids were harsher, calling Clinton a "liar" who had nTC shamed his country and his office. The mass circulation Sun and its competitor the Mirror said that Clinton was "a man whose frantic and perverse philandering borders on the demented" and "an insatiable and indiscriminate predator whose many relationships with women are tantamount to sexual abuse." The president "must go," the Sun concluded.

There were calls from several members of Parliament for Prime Minister Tony Blair to distance himself from Clinton, with whom he has had a close relationship. A spokesman for Blair turned aside the advice.

France's daily Liberation offered the full text in English, with excerpts in French, on its Internet site. French radio and television also gave the report full coverage.

The lead editorial of Liberation, a left-leaning daily, said Clinton had only himself to blame for his crisis. "It is because he agreed to answer -- but with lies -- the unacceptable questions of Kenneth Starr that the president of the United States, threatened by impeachment and seized by political paralysis, now struggles in vain against ridicule, offering repentance from dawn to sad dusk," the editorial said.

The paper reflected the widespread if not universal French view that Clinton's affair should have been left private, as was the relationship of President Francois Mitterrand with his mistress until the late president disclosed that he had a daughter by her.

The conservative Le Figaro also published excerpts from the Starr report on its front page under the headline, "The document revealing Clinton's secrets."

Comparing Clinton to Capt. E. J. Smith on the Titanic, Figaro concluded that continued public support might keep Congress from impeaching him, but that it might come too late, like the liner Carpathia on the dawn of April 15, 1912.

In an editorial ringing with French stupefaction at the scandal, Le Monde described the Starr report as a monster "worthy of the reports of the Inquisition."

Le Monde accused Starr of trying to impose "a terrifying moral order where sex is never far from sin, where even sexual relations between consenting adults is always something terrible."

Pub Date: 9/13/98

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