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It was the D-Day remembrance to end all remembrances. It cranked up well before June 6 and lingers even now, beyond the 50th anniversary of that momentous Normandy invasion.

Some grumbled that it may have been excessive. But, for most Americans, an entire year of celebration wouldn't be enough to demonstrate the depth of the country's gratitude to those courageous D-Day soldiers who rescued democracy.Unfortunately, there were some among the populace whose gratitude was focused not so much on the individual and collective heroism of June 6, 1944, as on the anniversary itself: Ah, what a splendid opportunity this was for the petty, obsessive Clinton-haters to attack the nation's president.

As usual, the radio talk-show hosts and the sheep who clog their phone lines led the parade, some dressing it up as a legitimate policy question: Should a president who never served in the military represent our country at D-Day observances?

Or, as some of the not-so-polite put it: Why should a draft dodger like Clinton get within 10,000 miles of the graves of martyred American soldiers?

Well, here's a news flash for the Clinton-haters: Bill Clinton is the duly elected president of the United States. As such, he is commander in chief of U.S. armed forces - whether you like it or not.

Of course he should have represented our country at D-Day observances. Of course he should have paid tribute on behalf of the American people to the heroes of World War II.

He would have been remiss in his duty if he hadn't.

The insolent derision so often directed at the nation's chief executive seems to know no bounds.

I would never begrudge Americans their right to criticize a president. I have delivered my share of verbal groin kicks to any number of presidents and would-be presidents, Clinton among them.

But the vitriol directed at Clinton on a daily basis goes far beyond the boundaries of reasonable criticism - or even cheap-shot criticism, for that matter.

This criticism of Clinton is much too personal and it's far too ugly. It's too incessant, too adamant. It's too inflammatory.

It's dangerous.

A nation can't have this much animosity focused on its legally elected leader and not run the risk of seriously wounding itself. This sort of mindless, unchecked hatred simply isn't healthy.

It's hard for some people to swallow, I know, but Bill Clinton won the 1992 presidential election. And no amount of hate-mongering will change that.

So, Clinton-bashers, wouldn't it be more productive to take all that frantic energy you've been expending on belittling Clinton and redirect it toward the meaningful discussion of public issues?

If you don't like Clinton's health plan, then join the debate on health-care reform. If you think Clinton lacks the moral authority to be president, then start looking for a superior candidate to support in 1996.

Do something besides making jerks of yourselves.