Starr report prompts many reactions

September 13, 1998|By BRENDAN KIRBY

The long-awaited report from Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr appears to have changed few minds throughout the Tri-State area.

Whether they were cooking out at Hagerstown City Park or shopping at Ames, area residents on Sunday generally said they had made up their minds one way or another about President Clinton before the report was released.

--cont. from front page--

"He should have resigned seven months ago, in my opinion," said Linda Campbell, 47, of Blue Ridge Summit, Pa.

Campbell's husband, Jim Campbell, 53, said he hopes Clinton spares the country a wrenching battle over his sexual misconduct with former intern Monica Lewinsky and alleged obstruction of justice.

"I would think he'd be better off resigning than going through an impeachment," he said.

The details contained in Starr's massive report to Congress have drawn gasps from television commentators over the last several days, but interviews with local residents suggest it either failed to sway Clinton's supporters or merely confirmed his critics' suspicions.


"I think he's done good. If anyone should be concerned, it should be Hillary," said Sharpsburg resident Juanita Keyton, 55, who was standing near her car outside Ames off Dual Highway. "I don't think he's done anything more than any other president."

Others in the parking lot, however, said the allegations beyond the sex - witness tampering, obstruction of justice - warrant Clinton's removal.

Jonathan Leasure, 49, of Hagerstown, said Clinton's sexual exploits might not be extraordinary, but he said he was troubled by his repeated deception.

"I think every president has probably done the same thing, but he blatantly lied about it." he said.

Violet Davis Stewart, 51, who came to shop at Ames from her Winchester, Va., home, said Starr's report intensified here feelings.

"I'm personally embarrassed by it It reflects on the whole nation," she said. "I am tired of hearing about it. I know everyone is."

It was a commonly expressed sentiment on Sunday by Clinton's supporters and detractors alike.

"I just wish they'd drop it," said Sharpsburg resident Lori Burns, 37. "I'm tired of all the talk."

Waynesboro, Pa., resident Lavenna Warne, 51, said she is not interested in the lurid details of Clinton's sex life.

"I think they need to keep those things private. I'm sure they wouldn't want it," she said.

At the park

At Hagerstown City Park, people enjoyed picnics, games and the sun. They also talked about the fate of the leader of the free world.

"I think he should resign. But, honestly, I don't think they're going to impeach him," said Smithsburg resident Jill Reece, 17, who took her little brother to the park.

The Mills family interrupted its family outing in the park to consider the Clinton question.

Berkeley Springs, W.Va., resident Charles Mills, 48, said sexual misconduct is not grounds for impeachment.

"But if he's lied or misled, that's it," he said. "Based on his past experiences, it wouldn't surprise me."

His nephew, Steven Mills, 35, of Waldorf, Md., said he thought it was a "terrible mistake" to release details of Starr's report to the public.

"I think he should have resigned right when they started questioning him about Monica Lewinsky how embarrassing for the man," he said.

To others soaking up the sun in the park, however, the travails in the nation's capital seemed far away.

"The only people who are going to be concerned about it are the suits in Washington," said Hagerstown resident Mark Stoner, 37, who was watching his nephew and niece on the seesaw. "To me, it was a $40 million waste of money."

In West Virginia

Walter and Phyllis Pearrell of Martinsburg, W.Va., said they not only want Clinton to remain in office, but would vote for him again without hesitation.

"He's done more than anybody who's been in there," said Walter Pearrell, 65.

Phyllis Pearrell, 59, said she thinks all politicians have some sort of dirt they wouldn't want dredged up, and Clinton was just unfortunate enough to be caught.

"There's only one person who doesn't have any sin, and that's the good Lord," she said.

Being married, though, is no guarantee of similar views.

Gerrardstown, W.Va., couple Sissy and John H. James are polarized on the Clinton subject.

Sissy James, 51, said she thinks Clinton is doing a good job as president and that Starr's report hasn't changed her belief that he should stay in office.

"Any man would do what he did," she said.

As president, Clinton should be held to a higher standard than an ordinary citizen, said John H. James, 58.

"I think we should get rid of him," said James, a Democrat. "He's set a bad example for the nation, for the children. He's a man you're supposed to look up to."

In Pennsylvania

"We'd like to think certainly he could stay," said Diana Steckel, of Chambersburg, Pa.

"But I don't think he will," added her husband, Ed Steckel, who added he is "probably one of the two people in this county that read the entire report."

Steckel, an attorney, said he is troubled by Starr's tactics and thinks Clinton's misdeeds probably do not rise to an impeachable offense.

"To be sure, though, Mr. Clinton has no one to blame but himself," he said.

Walking along the grounds of Wilson College, Mercersburg, Pa., resident Lee Zittle said she voted for Clinton twice. While she does not think impeachment is warranted, she said Clinton deserves some punishment.

"He lied in his deposition, he lied before the grand jury and he lied to the American people. And that's a problem," she said.

Jose Cordova, a teacher of Spanish and Latin American literature, language and culture at Wilson College, said the country is focusing too much on its leader's private life.

"As far as Mr. Clinton's private conduct, as someone said in the New York Times, he has given a very bad name to adultery," he said.

- Staff writers Don Aines and Kerry Lynn Fraley contributed to this story.

The Herald-Mail Articles