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Scandal is a reminder that leaders should be beyond reproach

It is amazing to watch the reaction of the media and the American public to the current scandal surrounding President Clinton's alleged sexual misbehavior. One is compelled to ask, why? Why is this last alleged dalliance such a surprise to the American public and our media watchdogs?

From the time this man first appeared on the American political scene, sexual scandal has been part and parcel of his political baggage. One need not have been a prophet to see that our current crisis was as inevitable as sunset. Everything we know about Bill Clinton should have constituted ample warning that what has occurred with Monica Lewinsky was very nearly a certainty.There are names that will now go down in American history that frankly should not be there, thanks to Bill Clinton:

Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones and now Monica Lewinsky, among others. What a legacy.

Clinton, of course, has denied most of these, though he has admitted to a relationship with Flowers. And in just the past few days, his wife has accused "right-wing extremists" for her husband's current predicament. Yet, there is considerable evidence that each of his accusers has been telling the truth.

There were witnesses to his ongoing affair with Flowers.

Paula Jones has even described some of Clinton's physical peculiarities.

Lewinsky has discussed her relationship with Clinton with others, and apparently there is additional evidence to substantiate her claims.

There have been others as well. Accusations of Clinton's adulterous behavior with other women while governor of Arkansas have been seen in print many times.

The point is, the current scandal should not have come as any surprise. It could have been seen coming when he was first elected to office.

What has been lost in the American political debate over the years is any discussion of character. It has been asserted ad nauseam that what a person does in his or her private life should be of no consideration in election to office. It is thought that a person's activities in private should not be seen as having any relevance to his or her qualifications for public service.

Well, here's where that specious line of reasoning has led us. The United States is alarmingly weakened internationally as Saddam Hussein continues to flout United Nations demands while the world is distracted by Clinton's latest sex scandal. The country is crippled domestically as Clinton attempts to enunciate policy before a Congress that is gravely distracted by the White House scandal.

When will the American public wake up to the reality that character is fundamental to all else? It is not a coat one can take off in private life and put back on again when exercising the duties of public office.

In this particular crisis, as in others, Americans and the world are greeted with the sight of the American "investigative" media being led down the primrose path where they collide into the obvious with a surprising sense of discovery. One can only hope their self-proclaimed sophistication will eventually catch up with them.

Where does fault lie? At this point, what does it matter? The people of this nation need to wake up to the obvious before it is too late. Character counts. It is qualification No. 1 for public service - at any level of government.