* Re "Task of Gauging Punishment Begins," Sept. 15: I was disturbed by this article regarding President Clinton's fate. The article suggested that congressmen would decide what to do based more on the polls than on the evidence contained in the Starr report and the White House rebuttal.
This would be wrong--possibly the worst thing the members of the House could do. Last I checked, we didn't decide important national questions by resorting to the bread and circuses of daily polls. Whether the president has committed an impeachable offense or not, the duty of the members of the House and Senate is to make their decision based solely on the evidence before them.
One lone senator ruined his political career by voting to acquit Andrew Johnson in 1868, but he served his country well by following his conscience, not polls. I hope our current Congress can follow his example.
* It seems The Times has taken its cue from Bill Clinton in using its front-page headline to mislead the public (Sept. 14). Your poll shows that 52% of the public favors strong punishment for Clinton, either in the form of censure or impeachment. This is hardly the "strong support" to which you refer.
* It must kill those politicians and media people whose stomachs burn with hatred for Clinton that the majority of Americans still approve of the job he is doing. To many of us, the far greater obscenity is their willingness to shove salacious details of the affair in our and our children's faces day after day.
* Re "Why Struggle to Defend So Lame a Duck?" Commentary, Sept. 14: Wasn't it Gerald Uelmen who was on the team of lawyers who defended O.J. Simpson? The evidence submitted against O.J. was overwhelming, yet by clever legal maneuvering, they won an acquittal. Are Clinton's lawyers any worse? Uelmen should seek forgiveness and redemption, as a scholar of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.
BALDWIN T. ECKEL
* Confronted with a mountain of lies on just one subject from Bill Clinton, I cannot help but wonder what else he has lied to us about. Is tobacco really as dangerous as he claims? Is global warming really a threat to mankind? Are our policies in places like Bosnia and Iraq really successful? Or is the president being "legally accurate" when he makes these claims?
Could someone please tell me what the man isn't lying about?
* I'll take a deceitful Democrat over an honest Republican any day.
* For those who haven't read the Starr report: Their eyes met. They had sex. They lied about it.
Get over it.
MICHAEL H. MILLER
* Bruce J. Schulman (Opinion, Sept. 13) has it right: President Clinton has been the most effective conservative president in the 20th century. He has ended federal responsibility for the needy ("welfare reform"), globalized the economy through NAFTA and GATT (thus sending thousands of American jobs overseas), balanced the budget, reduced the number of federal workers and even pushed through the line-item veto, later struck down by the Supreme Court. All of these were stated goals of Ronald Reagan, who failed to enact any of them.
Yet conservatives hate Clinton and clamor for his impeachment on the grounds that he lied about his affair with Monica Lewinsky; liberals are (mostly) steadfast in his defense, though condemning his "sleazy" behavior. I am an unrepentant--and proud--liberal and I am divided over what should happen to President Clinton. On one hand, the charges against him are trivial. They certainly do not warrant resignation, let alone impeachment. On the other hand, Clinton has been a dreadful president and it would certainly be better to have Al Gore in the White House!
* Clinton blames Kenneth Starr for the sordid embarrassment that his own conduct has brought to the office of president. Now Schulman's convoluted piece credits Clinton with the few useful things the Republican Congress has achieved. Achieved not because of the president's leadership but in spite of his opposition.
People must not forget that the agenda that this man brought to office called for socialized medicine, gays in the military and other undesirable extensions of progressive activism. They must not forget that his administration has been characterized by arrogance, stonewalling and an amazing ability to lose and misplace documents in such sensitive matters as the Vince Foster investigation.
* Lewinsky, of her own volition, thrust herself into the president's life. She initiated their first contact, she chose to expose her intimate apparel with little or no prompting, she initiated the oral sex and repeatedly urged the president to have an orgasm, she broached the topic of all-out sexual intercourse (to no avail). Yes, the president's a dirty dog. What is Monica?