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2 Views of Rep. Hyde's Past Offered by His Constituents

September 20, 1998|ANDREW BUCHANAN | ASSOCIATED PRESS

WOOD DALE, Ill. — Robert Ceh pictures clean streets and good roads when he thinks of Rep. Henry J. Hyde. Lisa Olenski thinks of a politically motivated hypocrite.

The two views, offered Thursday from the tree-lined, middle-class communities of Hyde's suburban Chicago district, reveal a deep split in opinion over the Republican congressman's admission of an affair 30 years ago.

It is Hyde, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who would oversee any impeachment proceedings against President Clinton.

Ceh, a 69-year-old resident of Hyde's hometown of Wood Dale, said Hyde's affair doesn't tarnish the congressman's record or affect his ability to lead.

"This is 30 years later, so I don't think it has any bearing on today," Ceh said as he left a Wood Dale grocery store. "I did dumb things 30 years ago. I see no problems with it at all."

The affair, first reported by the Internet magazine Salon, took place from 1965 to 1969. It began when Hyde, now 74, was 41 and the woman--then known as Cherie Snodgrass--was a dozen years younger. Both were married.

"The statute of limitations has long since passed on my youthful indiscretions," said Hyde, whose wife died in 1992.

Olenski, 24, of Bloomingdale, paused from her morning run to offer a big dose of cynicism.

"I think he's a hypocrite, and I wouldn't be surprised if the other people who are attacking [Clinton] have had affairs also," she said.

But Olenski said she doesn't think the disclosure will affect Hyde's job overseeing the hearings: "I think it's so politically motivated that they're not objective anyway."

Over at Joe's Hair Styling in neighboring Addison, Don Vertone, 62, said there is no comparison between Hyde and Clinton. Hyde "didn't go before an investigating committee and lie," he said.

Ed Urbanek, 76, offered a different view: "What's that old biblical saying about casting stones?"

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