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What are Clintons teaching our kids?

My preschooler recently asked me whether President Clinton lied.

I think of that question whenever I see the many commentators addressing the matter of the president and Monica Lewinsky who suggest that if the president has had extramarital affairs it is a private matter between him and his wife.Judging by the polls and comments from the public, the commentators are mirroring many in the electorate. In the wake of the first lady's impassioned defense of her husband on the "Today Show," there's been more speculation, coming from as high as the president's former chief political strategist, that there may be some kind of agreement between the first couple to accept the president's catting around. If so, some of their thinking goes, those of us outside the marriage have no right to get involved in it.

If such an understanding does, in fact, exist, it means that for starters, Hillary Clinton should stop smearing as "right-wing conspirators" those who simply see through such a charade. But beyond that, does it mean that the rest of us should keep our noses out of "their business?"

The answer is "No."

I'm not just talking about what the president's alleged trysts with a 21-year-old (and others) would say about the character of a man entrusted with a position of enormous power yet clearly willing to use it for his own ends. Or that this would reveal an incredible recklessness, a dangerous propensity for risk-taking, his untrustworthiness or that he is leaving himself wide open for blackmail, potentially putting America at risk.

I am talking here only about the president's relationship with his wife and whether the rest of us have a right to censure it on moral grounds if the Clintons are comfortable with it.

The answer is, "You bet we do."

The Clintons, especially the first lady, are constantly telling us that "it takes a village to raise a child." There is one sense, the hardest sense, in which they are right: We all have a moral responsibility to set good examples; not only for our own children but also for the children around us. And I don't think millions of kids around the world should have to go to bed every night thinking that marriage vows are meaningless because, assuming the truth of the accusations, commentators on the news say they are.

If all this is true, the question of what the Clintons are teaching their own child is bad enough, but it hardly stops there. What, then, are the leader of the free world and his wife teaching my children?

Mandating huge government programs for "America's kids," whipping up a "volunteerism" fever, championing the Children's Defense Fund is a cake walk. Such things require nothing of personal substance, sacrifice or character.

And in the long run they are a whole lot less important than keeping promises. In particular the promises made in the covenant vows of marriage. It's that unit, of course, that is the bedrock for healthy families and kids, and it is that unit that is absolutely necessary for any sound society to function.

Even more important, when the Clintons made their sacred vows of marriage, it wasn't just to each other. They also promised God that they would be faithful in their union and the same to the public that witnessed their wedding. So even if the Clintons have decided, as some claim, to expand their marriage contract, even if they could get a permission slip from every person who witnessed their union saying they would go along with the changes, God would not. And if the Clintons really do presume that that doesn't matter for them, what kind of lesson is that for the millions of children watching them?