They're just glad it's over

February 12, 1999|By LAURA ERNDE

Whether they think Clinton is a liar or a martyr, most people around the Tri-State area can agree on one thing - they're glad it's over.

"I am tickled to death. I am so tired of hearing this malarkey," said Louise Hahn, 73, of Smithsburg.

Nancy Bussard, 46, of Sharpsburg, was watching television Friday afternoon, but she wasn't tuned into the impeachment trial.

An action show was playing in the background while she did her laundry at the South End Shopping Center.

"Did that surprise anyone?" she said of the verdict. "It's a lot of money down the drain."

Phyllis Harp, 66, of Halfway, shared similar sentiments while browsing Valentine's Day cards.

"I'm tired of hearing about it. I think 90 percent of the public has had enough. Everybody can, I think, get back to normal now. Even the Clinton family," Harp said.

Those who thought Clinton lied were disappointed with the outcome.


"If you and I were to do what he has done we'd all be in jail," said Bob Lewis, 60, of Waynesboro, Pa.

"We're talking about perjury. He's guilty as sin. But they can't try you twice so he got his get-out-of-jail free card," said Bill Rude, 22, of Falling Waters, W.Va.

Rude's outspokenness while getting his hair cut sparked an impromptu debate at the South End Barber Shop.

"It's human nature to look at the opposite sex," said Harry Lewis, 55, of Hagerstown. "If I get into your private affairs, everybody's going to lie."

But Rude said Clinton crossed the line when he took the stand and testified he didn't have sex with Monica Lewinsky.

"There's a thing called honor. I would consider it more honorable to tell the truth. Then I could die happy," Rude said.

The one good thing for Republicans is that Vice President Al Gore didn't take Clinton's place, putting him in a better position for the presidency in 2000, said Valerie Pearson, 32, of Hagerstown.

"Hopefully this will turn things back around," said Pearson, who was looking for a Valentine's Day card.

The verdict didn't come as a surprise to anyone.

"I knew from the beginning that they wouldn't convict him. This is just about the Republicans trying to get back at the Democrats for Watergate. But I don't think he set a very good example for the country," said Sonny Hough, 64, of Shepherdstown, W.Va.

Linda Cosky, 42, of Waynesboro, Pa., hopes that the end of the trial means the end of frank talk about sex on the nightly news.

"I'm tired of seeing it on television. I'm tired of my kids having to see it," said Cosky, who wanted Clinton to leave office.

But others thought the trial was a waste of taxpayers' money.

Barbara Harnish, 49, of Greencastle, Pa., said the money spent on Clinton's trial should have been used to boost salaries for enlisted men and women. Her son-in-law who is in the Army told her some of his co-workers qualify for food stamps.

Like a lot of people, Harnish thinks Clinton should have received some kind of punishment.

"I don't think he should get off scot-free. If (Lewinsky) was my daughter I'd be mad as a hornet," she said.

Ralph Miller, 76, of Martinsburg, W.Va., also thought impeaching Clinton went too far.

"Anything that happens at home between him and his family is not a public matter," said Miller, an Army veteran of three wars.

Frank West, 71, said he can't fault Clinton for doing exactly what he would do under the same circumstances.

"How many husbands would tell you, 'I committed adultery.' I would lie about it. It's a normal response," said West, who lives in Waynesboro, Pa., with his girlfriend Violet Baumgardner, 69.

Baumgardner agreed with her beau and added that she believes Lewinsky and Linda Tripp made up the whole story.

Darin Helman, 23, of Waynesboro, Pa., likened Clinton's impeachment trial to the O.J. Simpson murder trial, both of which received a lot of media attention.

"Neither one solved anything," Helman said.

Helman's co-worker at Sunshine Lanes in Waynesboro, Pa., said what began as an investigation into the Whitewater land deals turned into a sex scandal.

"I think that's why people didn't embrace it. It was just a big party ploy to smear him for the next election," said Tim Kriner, 27, of Fort Loudon, Pa.

"Even when the historians look back a hundred years from now they'll say it was the Republicans versus the Democrats and the Republicans lost," Kriner said.

Few condoned the president's behavior.

"It's a very sad state of affairs when our leader exemplifies morals that are questioned by the people he leads," said Sandra Harshbarger, 40, of Shenandoah Junction, W.Va.

Laura Martin, 60, of Shepherdstown, W.Va., said Clinton should have done the honorable thing by resigning.

"I voted for him twice, but he really is a tragic figure," she said.

As the country breathed a collective sigh of relief at the ending of the trial, people also sensed that they haven't heard the last of Lewinsky and Tripp.

Don Blattenberger, 66, of Mercersburg, Pa., predicted more lawsuits once Clinton leaves office.

"The only people getting rich is the lawyers," said the retired federal government employee who was sitting on a bench at Wayne Heights (Pa.) Mall during a weekly shopping trip with his wife and mother-in-law.

Staff Writer Richard F. Belisle contributed to this story.

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