Voter's Voice: The Starr report
Within hours of the release of Independent Counsel Ken Starr's report, we got hundreds of e-mail messages about Starr's findings in his sex-and-perjury inquiry into President Bill Clinton.
Here's a sample of reader reaction, and if you've like to comment, too, drop us an e-mail. Please include your name and home town.
'Honesty and integrity still matter'
Apparently Clinton believes holding the office of the presidency is a right protected by the Constitution. It is not. It is a privilege bestowed by the American people.
Fundamental to the legitimacy of any democracy is, above all, the rule of law. That rule of law does not place one citizen above (or below) another. However, what the rule of law does demand is that the pursuit of a goal (whether that goal be liberal or conservative) be by legitimate means.
Unfortunately, from time to time, leaders become so wedded to their convictions that they lose sight of the fact that, in a democratic society, process (or the means used to achieve those ends) does matter. In fact, that process is the very foundation upon which our nation is based.
While Mr. Clinton is right to assert that consensual sex is a private matter, he does violence to the integrity of a democratic society to not only suggest, but to assert as a right, that his responses under oath are also a private matter because they relate to his private conduct. They are not.
What is at stake is not the legacy of the Clinton presidency. Clinton's presidency (whether it runs to its natural expiration or not) will be judged by history for its accomplishments in its time. Rather, what is at stake is whether this nation still respects the rule of law.
That said, I hold this truth to be self-evident: honesty and integrity still matter.
-- R. Sebold, Alexandria, Va., Sept. 11
'An unfulfilled virgin'
My cursory reading the of Starr report enables me to conclude that Judge Starr appears to be an unfulfilled virgin, still confounded by the mysteries of sex, so confounded, in fact, that the report appears to me to be prima facie evidence that he is a pervert.
The report reflects an unbelievable invasion of privacy without any acceptable judicial grounds. Any laws governing any part of the president's testimony, or Ms. Lewinsky's or any other witness' for that matter, at any point in the process ought to be NULL AND VOID in a civilized society of normal human beings. No human being should be forced to participate in such an investigation, or our laws were made by perverts.
Delivery of the report just before an election shows that the Republican right-wingers that spurred Judge Starr on to make this political statement are ALL essentially sickos.
Read the report yourselves. I hope you agree with my message: ANYONE who would engage in such an investigation using the money and subpoena powers of the Federal Government should seek a psychiatrist's help and rest in a mental institution.
-- C.J. Reid, Santa Cruz, California, September 11
President Clinton told his friends and aides that there would be no new revelations in the Starr report. He was right! Now everyone knows what kind of scumbag has occupied the Oval Office for the past 5 1/2 years.
-- Dave Campbell, Manchester, Kentucky, September 11
'Was it all worth it, Mr. Starr?'
In reading Kenneth Starr's report I'm wondering if we are really getting the whole truth from Monica Lewinsky. Whatever gave this girl the impression that Mr. Clinton, a married man mind you, loved her when their's was strictly a sexual relationship. Ms. Lewinsky needs help to know that no man should be allowed to take advantage of her like that. Mr. Clinton was not acting very Presidential in taking advantage of her like that. I believe Mr. Clinton has been a good President for our country but he cannot take full credit for the good economic times we are in. A President must be able to work with Congress and I'm wondering if that is possible now. Everyone in Washington will be sidetracked by his behavior - which as a public servant - is never private. Hate to tell you, Bill.
I've always thought that Mr. Starr was over reaching and political in his endeavors to find something on Mr. Clinton. I still think that. Was it all worth it, Mr. Starr? I have to seriously wonder.
-- Sue Hinsman, Wyckoff, New Jersey, September 11
'A sick man'
I think Starr is a sick man. To me all he is thinking about is sex. How did Starr get from Whitewater to the president's personal life?
-- Frances Kennemer, Graford, Texas, September 11
'He needs help'
... I abhor what the president did but everyone I know felt all along that the president was lying. He needs help and should only remain in office if he gets it and is monitored somehow to make certain he does not repeat his actions.
I feel that the (independent counsel) exceeded the power that was first given and the reasons for which it was given. He and his staff and backers as a result have wasted millions of American taxpayer dollars and put the entire country into moral, economic and national security chaos. They will do anything to get rid of the president to include ruining our country. I guess they feel they can pick up the pieces, be in power and go on with life.
If Starr had ANYTHING legitimate about the president I would feel totally differently than I do now. He could not "get" him any way other than with this sex issue; even then he could have made his report without the salacious and sordid details I understand that it provides. Shame on the faction that has been out to get the president and shame on the majority of the media who have relentlessly covered this situation and pushed it down our throats. Of course, shame on Mr. Clinton. But his sexual acts in themselves did nothing to hurt our country. That has been done by the independent counsel and the media.
I have no sympathy for Lewinsky as she has been getting the notoriety it seems she likes; she will be laughing all the way to the bank, won't she? If anyone decent, sane or without ulterior motives had sexual liaisons THEY WOULD NOT HAVE GONE INTO ALL THE LURID DETAILS as the independent counsel only knew what he was told and nothing more could have been forced out of her mouth. Planted maybe, but not forced!
This is one Republican who will be changing her party as a registered voter to become a Democrat in the next few weeks. I have a feeling that many others will feel as I do and this situation may weaken the Republican Party rather than strengthen it!
-- Mrs. Thaxton, Tampa, September 11
'Your sanctimonious coverage'
I am getting very tired of watching your sanctimonious coverage of the presidential crisis. You seem to be assuming that no normal adult male would ever carry on an affair such as Ms. Lewinsky describes. I have news for you; in the real world such things happen all the time. This is obviously a politically motivated witchhunt.
Granted, the president lied to cover up an adulterous affair, but adulterous affairs are by definition secret and the people involved usually agree not to disclose the details of their relationship to anyone. Please stop being so coy and try to be a bit more realistic. In the real world, there are real tragedies occurring even as you spend your time feigning shock at the details of the report. Most adults in the world know enough about life to realize that things such as the Clinton affair happen. Stop preaching and try to get back to reporting. That`s what you do best.
-- Maria M. Royo, September 11
'An exemplary job'
While I agree that the president was wrong in his actions, both with Ms. Lewinsky and his alleged lies, I cannot support any impeachment action. Kenneth Starr did his job, but the president has done an exemplary job as our chief. He has led our country to a lower unemployment, better economy, improved our schools and has actually pulled our country together to take responsibility for our towns and government.
For all the good he has done, I will have to say that the Lewinsky issue is the Clinton's problem -- not mine. If Hillary hasn't fired him yet, why should we? Mr. Starr wanted to make a name for himself and he figured he could find that ticket under a rock, so he started turning stones. I don't think I could support a Congress or Senate that allows an impeachment here and I'm sure I'll remember those who do come election time.
-- Lisa Moran, Massachusetts, September 11
'What male hasn't done what Clinton did?'
Obviously there was an encounter, but what male hasn't done what Clinton did? Let the man rest. Any male that I know would never admit to an affair. He's done a great job of keeping the country on track. Too bad he can't run again; I'd still vote for him. Hey, what about JFK?
-- Elizabeth, Paris, Tenn., September 11
You are a disgrace to the office of the President and an embarrassment to the United States. You are a disgrace to the human race. You lack character. You lack morals and values. You cannot be trusted or respected. You are a sad example for our children. You consistently lie to protect yourself. You stonewall Congress. You commit adultery. You abuse the office by claiming executive privilege for personal matters. You are using government lawyers and money to defend your personal mistakes. You use people (Vernon Jordan). You ask other people to lie for you. You disrespect people who have supported you. You have abused the power of the president for personal gain (campaign finance). You have mistreated women and discounted the advances women have made in our society for decades past. You have made current sexual harassment laws obsolete. You are an incompetent and ineffective leader. You have had the most unethical administration in the history of the United States.
You can either keep this kind of activity going to avoid the truth coming to the forefront or save some face and resign. Impeachment proceedings will not be limited to the Office of the Independent Counsel's (OIC) report....
-- Scott Kinsey, Simi Valley, Calif., September 11
'A personal mistake'
President Clinton is guilty of a personal mistake, not high crimes and misdemeanors. Ken Starr wasted $40 million. Politics has reached a low point.
They need to get on with governing the country.
-- Jim Barnes, September 11
'No faith in his moral judgment'
I think for the good of the country President Clinton should resign before we have to waste the time to impeach him. Yes, having an improper relationship is his business but the minute he lied about it and tried to cover it up it then became the public's business. I have no faith in his moral judgment or his ability to tell the truth. He is the leader of this country and he had a moral obligation to us which he screwed up on. Let's get this over with in a quicker fashion. He led us on a merry chase for seven months telling lies. Let's let it end now with his resignation right away.-- Debbie Jones, Tucson, Arizona, September 11
Starr has a personal vendetta towards President Clinton. Starr's grudge goes way back. If you ask me, Starr need to be investigated. Also the media has hyped up the Clinton situation so badly that all you hear is Clinton's sex life, which is none of anyone's business. If Clinton's wife forgives him, then I ask stay out of his private life.
Clinton is a human being; he isn't perfect. For once can the media air and say something which is positive to the listeners and our young generation which watches and listens to this mess. I can see why our nation is in a confused state. The media and the government doesn't know their priorities. LEAVE PRESIDENT CLINTON ALONE!
-- Mrs. R. Murray, Lithonia, Georgia, September 11
Clinton should resign, but we know the man has no dignity or/and honor. How could the American people have elected someone so weak? Lets get on with the impeachment proceedings.
-- Mike Wills, Virginia Beach, Va., September 11
'Such hatred for the president'
Ken Starr is at the bottom of the barrel. He obviously has such hatred for the president to go to the extremes that he has. I wonder how much the tobacco people paid him to do this? Why was it necessary to list the sexual details on the Internet? I refuse to read them as it will place me on the same level as Ken Starr and I don't do well on dirt.
This investigation was not about President Clinton breaking the law. Ken Starr wanted to publicly humiliate the president and he has succeeded. My disgust with Ken Starr is stronger than ever. Where is his morality? He is more despicable than what the president has done. What do I think about Ken Starr's report? Burn it, it's trash and so is he. Why is he allowed to publish pornography on the Internet? Isn't there a law against that? Oh, I get it: Ken Starr is above the law. My prayers are with President Clinton and his family. And may God forgive Ken Star, because I find it too difficult.
-- N. Lopez, Yuma, Arizona, September 11
'He's a liar'
I haven't sifted through all of it yet but enough to sum up our wonderful president in three words. HE'S A LIAR. In my opinion he continued to lie right through his grand jury testimony and I don't have a shred of respect for the man or any politico who could have the temerity to defend his so-called right to lie, as long as it's about sex. There are so many honest, hard-working, law-abiding and taxed-to-death Americans who will read this and weep. Impeachable? You bet. But don't stop there. Throw out all the bums who defend his behavior as well. None of them deserve the position of trust we have elected them to.
-- Cindy Sanford, September 11
I think the Starr report is partisan and one-sided. I think President Clinton made a mistake, but I am willing to forgive him. President Clinton has done a good job.
-- Bill Cox, Fulton, Kentucky, September 11
... If our president is truly contrite and sorry for his actions, he will do the right thing for our country and our children and resign. If he doesn't, then he is telling this country that he doesn't care that his actions were wrong. He's telling us that his apology is empty. He is telling us that the only important thing to him is to stay in POWER. My, my, how power does CORRUPT.
-- Mimi Richey, Sun City West, Arizona, September 11
'Just plain sad'
I think it's become just plain sad. I reserved my final judgment until the release of the report. Sadly, I believe his resignation would be the order of the day if he indeed does have any sense of respect, dignity and loyalty to the office of the presidency and his country.
I would also like to make clear that I have absolutely no regard for Starr and/or the Office of the Independent Counsel. The office and its mandate are all politically driven as is evident in the cascading "investigation " to date.
-- Jerry Ostrosky, September 11
'Two consenting adults'
I only read the index of the Starr report to see what information was contained within the report as I didn't really care to read the gory details of the sex lives of two consenting adults.
Yes, he lied. He lied to us for seven months and looked us right in the eyes when he did it. Personally, I feel that he is a pathetic man and has embarrassed our country. However, I do not think that any of his lies concerning Monica Lewinsky or any of his coverups concerning "that woman" are grounds for impeachment or even impeachment hearings.
If Joe Blow down the street had been doing the wild thing, at home or at the office, he would lie, lie, lie. Then, he would try to cover it up, if he got caught. However, no one would spend $40 million plus to investigate it!
Is this all there is, Mr. Starr? Have you nothing but sex and lies and coverups of the sex and lies? What about Travelgate and Whitewater, etc.?
Give me a break. Next time you want to spend my money on something this foolish, call me first. I'll just burn it in the trash which is where your so-called report belongs.
-- Deborah Pille, Peoria, Ill., September 11
'Only sympathy I can muster is for Chelsea'
Fellow Democrats, how much more humiliation are we to endure because of Bill Clinton? He is a detriment to our party and our country. We should unite our voices in demanding his resignation. The only sympathy I can muster is for Chelsea.
-- Michelle Smith, Kennett, Mo., September 11
Bill Ginsburg's stupid letter to Ken Starr turned out to be right after all. Ken Starr has managed to expose a sexual affair involving two consenting adults who then "conspired" to keep their relationship secret. Mr. Starr has turned our government upside down, humiliated the first family (especially Chelsea), humiliated Ms. Lewinsky and her family, and given a veneer of credibility to a bunch of Moral McCarthyites.
This is as sad an episode in American history as the trumped-up impeachment of Andrew Johnson.
-- Michael H. Miller, La Canada, California, September 11
'Best erotic story on the Internet'
I'm very disappointed with Starr's report. Forty million dollars were spent to produce the best erotic story on the Internet. On top of that, it is posted on a government Web site. Isn't that beautiful!
-- Imad Khalek, Bloomington, Minn., September 11
'The pain of impeachment'
After reviewing both the Starr report and the White House legal response, I believe Congress should strongly ask the president to resign to save this country the pain of impeachment. He has disgraced the office of the presidency, this country and the American people. Morality does count. President Clinton has lost his.
-- Jim Stokes, Darlington, South Carolina, September 11
'Trust, morals and character'
Excellent report! Clinton has suffered a permanent loss of credibility and must resign. This has nothing to do with sex, and everything to do with trust, morals, and character. Sadly, the president has none.
-- Scott Grannis, Claremont, California, September 11
Saturday September 12, 1998
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Public greets Starr report with weariness, distaste