Clinton under microscope
By John Intini
As controversy mounts against American President Bill Clinton for his alleged White House shenanigans, political experts claim the massive amount of interest the scandal has received proves not only that sex sells, but that sex in the oval office scares the socks off the American public.
Western political science professor Don Abelson said the American public's view of the president will surely be tarnished in one way or another, regardless of the outcome of White House intern Monica Lewinsky's charges.
"People have a definite moral expectation of their president," he said. The American society seems to have a fear that the president's private life will somehow affect his public performance, Abelson added.
In 1992, Clinton's presidential campaign was marred by allegations that he had a 12-year affair with Gennifer Flowers rumours he would eventually admit to. Nevertheless, Clinton went on to win the election that year and put the media pressure of the affair behind him. However, Robert Schapiro, a professor of American government at Columbia University in New York, said this time things will be treated quite differently.
"If Clinton forced Lewinsky to lie, the public will view it as an obstruction of justice," he said. "Only then is there a real problem above a simple tarnishing of reputation."
Schapiro said there will not be any long-term effects if Clinton is impeached or forced to resign. He added there would be no affect on foreign relations since most other country's leaders fear their reputations could be hurt if their own secrets were leaked.
"Almost all leaders have skeletons in their closets," he said. "Even the Republican party has remained silent this week amidst the frenzy for fear that truths will come out about them."
In comparing the scandalous philandering of former presidents including John F. Kennedy and George Washington, Abelson said the differences lie in the exposure of the story in the media.
"It's been said that the number of women who have passed through the Kennedy office could have filled a phone book," Abelson said. "The biggest difference is that everything is blown completely out of proportion in today's media."
With all the talk about Clinton's alleged affair with the 21-year-old intern Lewinsky, Schapiro noted Paula Jones, the woman accusing Clinton of sexual harassment, has been lost in the shuffle.
"Lewinsky is new and exciting. While Jones simply made accusations and asked for an apology, Lewinsky poses the threat of impeachment, which is more apt to catch the attention of the American public," Schapiro said. He added people are in fear of impeachment since it points to instability in the government, something most Americans are scared to death about.