Hail to the Chief
The media's focus on the recent scandals obscures Clinton's achievements

UCSD Guardian Opinion
January 26, 1998

After reading this week's news, the average citizen may think that President Bill Clinton is in serious trouble. However, after paying close attention to what we know right now, I can only see this current scandal as a diversionary tactic.

For those of you who don't know what's going on, I'll summarize: Three years ago, President Clinton allegedly had an affair with Monica Lewinsky, a 21-year-old White House intern.

It is amazing how quickly news like this spreads. The Washington Post broke the story Wednesday morning. Within hours, every other media outlet caught the scent and, by mid-afternoon, Clinton appeared on National Public Radio (NPR) and PBS to deny the charges.

The most inflammatory allegation is that Clinton asked Lewinsky to lie under oath about the relationship they allegedly had. The president can be impeached by the House of Representatives if this charge is proven to be true.

True to form, Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel always eager to scoop dirt on the president, leapt away from the Whitewater case -- upon which he lavished years of effort and thousands of tax dollars -- to investigate this new matter.

When the president made his statements on NPR, I realized that all of this is a diversion from the real issues affecting our nation.

The NPR interview was longer than 20 minutes. When I checked for a transcript on the AllPolitics website, only Clinton's denial was published -- about five minutes of the total interview. Omitted from the transcript were the president's plans for the year.

The president is currently in the midst of trying to create a legacy. In the first week of the year, Clinton introduced several policies and programs he planned to implement this year. Among them was a plan to increase funding for work-study and a plan to subsidize children's health care.

Next week, Clinton is expected to give a pivotal State of the Union address. However all of this is overshadowed by the scandal.

The day before the scandal broke out, Clinton was meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the situation in the Middle East.

Last Thursday, Clinton met with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat. Both meetings have been overlooked due to the newest scandal.

If the nation's eye had been trained on a situation affecting the lives of millions in the Middle East instead of an affair that the president may or may not have had, there might have been a positive outcome from the meetings. Instead, Netanyahu and Arafat merely stated their demands and left.

Clinton has been doing some extraordinary things this past year. Last June, Clinton came to UCSD to introduce his initiative on race issues.

For a brief few hours, all eyes turned to our campus as Clinton outlined his plans and aspirations for a nation, struggling against centuries of racism.

He also introduced panel members who would hold "town hall" meetings to honestly discuss race.

Clinton also worked with Congress to cut down on the national deficit. In the next couple of weeks, Clinton is expected to introduce the first balanced budget in decades.

The president also helped to stabilize the political situation in Bosnia by extending the U.S. mission for an indefinite amount of time.

After looking at all the positive things this man has done, it is sad to see him undone by recent scandal. Current issues will be ignored as the media hovers like a vulture over this alleged affair.

If the Republicans don't capitalize on this venture, I'll be terribly surprised. GOP leaders are holding off judgement on the president and urging others to do the same, but it will only be a matter of weeks before that moral wall will crumble.

This is an election year and the GOP, which has only an 11-seat majority in the House of Representatives, is trying to win several key senatorial and gubernatorial races. Maximizing on the president's pain could make the public forget about the strife within the Republican Party.

The Republicans can also utilize this to further their chances in the 2000 presidential election. Right now, the candidates the GOP is expected to bring on board seem a little weak.

Would you really like to have Calif. Gov. Pete Wilson leading our country? I didn't think so.

Starr seems to be going all out to investigate the matter. He is using his full powers to subpoena any information the White House may have on the matter.

Starr should remain detached from this matter. It is pretty obvious that Starr doesn't care too much about the original task he was assigned, to investigate any criminal activity regarding Whitewater.

From trying to leave for a college presidentship to this current investigation, Starr has drifted too far from the original scope of the Whitewater probe. In addition, he has let himself be swayed by political motivations.

Starr obviously needs to be removed from this investigation and get back to work on the Whitewater agenda. This is a job that would be better handled by a competent prosecutor.

This affair may poise the greatest threat to the president merely because this is one more log on the fire that has been burning since the Gennifer Flowers scandal during the '92 election.

As this scandal unfolds, everyone should stay focused until more facts come out. Media outlets are continuing to spin tales upon the little information they have.

Until there is more substance on this matter, it will be best to simply sit on the fence.