Students, faculty voice views on Clinton

by Jeremy Taff

Almost two weeks after the tape of President Bill Clinton testifying before a grand jury on the Monica Lewinsky issue was made public, college students remain divided on how to deal with the scandal.
But former U.S. Rep. Tim Penny, who spoke on campus Tuesday night to promote his new book, “The 15 Lies of American Politics,” said he thinks it’s time for the president to step down.
An informal survey of about 450 college students conducted over the Internet on Thursday found that 40 percent think Clinton should admit all improper behavior and accept censure.
Another 36 percent said he should continue to stick to his story and stay in office. The remaining 24 percent said he should admit to the charges and resign.
The poll was informal and had no official margin of error.
On Tuesday, Penny voiced views on the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal after speaking to a packed room of about 60 people in the Wilkins Room of the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
“We need a healthy debate, but fueled by more than sound bites,” Penny said of American politics.
Congress has had to consider impeachment proceedings since the public release of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr’s 400-page report which details Starr’s research on the affair between Clinton and Lewinsky.
“I suggest that he step aside and clear the air,” Penny said. “Let Gore take over.”
Penny added that impeachment would set too strong of a precedent.
“Our founding fathers intended for this to be very serious,” Penny said. “Impeachment would be a bad precedent in that case.”
David Strom, who attended the forum and teaches a class in modern political philosophy at the University of St. Thomas, disagreed with Penny.
“I think the precedent would actually be a good one,” Strom said. “It’s healthier to go through the process than to have Congress make their own law.”
Chris Dahlberg, a U.S. Army Reserve Lt. and first-year Humphrey graduate student who was also at the forum, said Clinton should be held to a higher standard.
“If I go to anyone under my chain of command and do anything of a sexual nature, I lose my commission,” Dahlberg said. “He’s commander in chief and he’s doing the same thing.” He said the president is sending the message that sex doesn’t matter.
Penny said although adultery is a serious matter, it’s a “slippery slope” when the matter becomes an impeachable offense. Congress could “bring impeachment against other presidents for alcoholism, you name it,” he said.
Penny has co-directed the Humphrey Institute Policy Forum since 1994, alongside Vin Weber who lives and works in Washington D.C. Former presidential candidate Walter Mondale founded the forum in 1990 but left when he was made ambassador to Japan.