Archive for Sunday, December 20, 1998

D.C. DRAMA ADDS INTRIGUE TO HOLIDAY

December 20, 1998

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The news events of Saturday didn't keep people from their holiday shopping, but they did give them something extra to think about while checking off their lists.

National and world news clouded what otherwise might have been a festive final Saturday of shopping before Christmas.

While the bombing of Iraq continued, President Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives, and House Speaker-elect Bob Livingston resigned.

"I think it makes the whole country feel overwhelmed," said Marcia Erickson, 44, of Wakarusa. "I think it puts a downer on this whole time of year."

Erickson was one of many who crowded the sidewalks of downtown Lawrence on Saturday to finish, or begin, their holiday shopping.

Erickson said that while Clinton deserved to be rebuked for his actions, he doesn't deserve impeachment.

None of the day's events surprised Jim Carothers, 56, of Lawrence.

"They are riding a horse that they can't stop," Carothers said. "I don't know who's in charge, if anybody is."

Surprising or not, it was an important day, said Myka Small, 20, a hostess at the Free State Brewery, 636 Mass.

"It's a moment in history," Small said.

She said the day left her "amazed," and she was disappointed that the impeachment proceeded despite the public sentiment against it. Polls showed most people would have rather seen Clinton reprimanded than impeached.

"This is a government by, of and for the people," she said. Yet she said she felt that what she believed didn't matter to the majority in the U.S. House.

"I feel a little insignificant," she said. "I feel a little angry."

Small's sentiment was echoed by one of her customers.

"I feel like I'm not going to belong to the Republican Party very much longer," said Gayle Larkin, 33, who was taking a shopping break with her husband and twin toddlers. "The basis of my frustration is they are not following the public's opinion."

Larkin blamed impeachment supports in the House, in particular, for going through with the vote while the military was engaged with Iraq, fearing it would be a distraction.

Others worried that Clinton might have gone ahead with the bombing Iraq in an effort to circumvent the im-peachment vote.

"You just really hate to think Clinton did that because of the problems he's gotten himself into," Erickson said.

Some were pleased with the outcome of the House vote.

"I'm for it," said Pat Deaver. "I think he got what he deserved."

Jim Long agreed with the decision, too.

"Lying under oath is a serious thing," he said.

But most had feelings about Clinton similar to 41-year-old Peggy Shopen's: "I don't like him, but I don't think he should be impeached."

And most expected the excitement of the day to fade with time.

"I don't think history has been made here," Carothers said. "All of this is basically an exercise in partisan politics."

-- Kendrick Blackwood's phone message number is 832-7221. His e-mail address is kblackwood@ljworld.com.

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