Time to move on. Leave him alone. Get it over with.
Many Americans say they have had enough of the investigations into President Clinton's personal life, even if they suspect he may have engaged in sexual misconduct.Diane Redd, walking her dog in Milwaukee on Thursday, spoke for many when she said, "There are a lot better things to do with the taxpayers' money than to know what the president's sexual activities are."
In interviews with Associated Press reporters around the country Thursday and in nationwide polls, most people welcomed a federal judge's decision throwing out Paula Jones' sexual harassment lawsuit and they said prosecutor Kenneth Starr should wrap up his investigation of the president, too.
Niakia Barnwell, a preschool teacher from Trenton, N.J., welcomed the opportunity to share her opinion, telling a reporter, "Sit down, girl!"
"That man's been through enough," she said of Clinton.
Steve Stark offered this thought from his citizens' watch patrol in Des Moines, Iowa: "It's time we just move on."
Polls attest to the notion that Americans do not have much stomach for investigating the president's personal conduct, even as the same surveys indicate public doubts about Clinton's behavior and deep concern about potential lawbreaking.
An ABC News poll found that six in 10 Americans supported a federal judge's decision to throw out the Jones lawsuit, even as 61 percent said they thought the president had engaged in a pattern of sexual misconduct. Likewise, 53 percent of Americans said they thought Clinton did proposition Jones during a 1991 encounter in a Little Rock hotel room, something he strongly denies.
Other surveys turned up similar results.
A USA Today-CNN-Gallup poll indicated 63 percent of Americans thought federal Judge Susan Webber Wright did the right thing in tossing the Jones case while 25 percent thought she made the wrong call. Sixty-seven percent said they want an end to all investigations into sexual allegations about the president although 58 percent said they believed there was some kind of incident between Jones and Clinton in that hotel room.
A CBS poll found that 53 percent supported the dismissal of the lawsuit. Among those who had already heard about the ruling, the sentiment was 3-1 in favor.
A significant minority, however, believes there are serious questions to be asked and answered about Clinton's behavior.
"I think Starr should continue," said Shirley Simmons, volunteer Capitol tour guide in Oklahoma City. "I think they should get to the bottom of it. There are too many left-wing, right-wing things that need to be brought to the public."
Eddie McElroy, a drug treatment center worker in Tuttle, Okla., said: "The problem is we don't know what we don't know and the only answers can only come through Starr."
From Brentwood, Tenn., came another view. Deliveryman Terry Jones stepped out from behind a file cabinet in a dark moving truck and declared, "The Republicans are just trying to get him (Clinton) out of the office because he's a Democrat. It's a game. Politics ain't nothing but a dirty game. They need to leave him alone."
Larry Hugick, director of political surveys at Princeton Survey Research, said the latest polls reflect the judgment that many Americans made early on that the allegations against Clinton "weren't worth losing a president over."
Some of the sentiment appears tied to Americans' respect for the office of the presidency rather than for Clinton himself, Hugick said.
In the CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll, 63 percent of Americans thought the dismissal of the Jones case was good for America.
"We do get a sense that people want to turn it off," Hugick said. "It's not about Bill Clinton so much as an individual but the office of the president."
The president's job approval rating is still in the high 60s in the latest surveys.