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Starr and Impeachment, Take a Hike

Issues are welcome, but old news of sex scandals just doesn't cut it with voters.

November 05, 1998|BILL PRESS | Bill Press is cohost of CNN's "Crossfire." E-mail:

You don't need a degree in political science to read this election.

The big loser was Ken Starr. And he wasn't even on the ballot.

"This election should not be read as a referendum on President Clinton," Republican National Congressional Chairman John Linder told a group of reporters over lunch exactly one week before the election.

Nonsense. Tuesday's vote cannot be interpreted any other way.

It was the first election since Monica Lewinsky. First since the Starr report. First since Judiciary Committee hearings. First since the House of Representatives voted to hold impeachment hearings against the president. First since Republicans launched a last-minute, $10-million advertising blitz, personally directed by House Speaker Newt Gingrich, making Clinton the issue.

And, after nine months of opinion polls showing that Americans did not trust Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr and did not consider Clinton's fling with Lewinsky serious enough to merit full-time attention, let alone impeachment--polls repeatedly ignored by Washington politicians and pundits--Tuesday was the first time Americans had a chance to show, by their votes, whether they really meant it.

Did they ever. From one end of the country to the other, Americans repudiated Starr and some of his most visible and vocal allies.

There's a message here any idiot should understand.

Americans have spoken, loud and clear. From coast to coast, in no uncertain terms, Americans have said: We've had enough of the politics of blame. We don't want to hear any more about Lewinsky. We don't think the president of the United States should be impeached for lying about sex. We don't trust Starr. We want Congress to forget about impeachment hearings and get back to work solving America's problems.

The American people have spoken. Hello? Is anybody listening?

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