President Clinton, it's time to resign.

Sure, Republicans may not have the political backbone to impeach you. They seem to worry it might make them look mean and hurt their own elections. Besides, they frankly don't want Al Gore running for president in 2000 as an incumbent.Most would rather see you hobble through the rest of your term as damaged goods. But that won't do the country or yourself any good. You could do the nation a favor by resigning, and maybe, just maybe, teaching that morality and integrity still matter.

Here's some more reasons, and effects on the moral fabric of the nation, to consider:

- Remember the Army drill sergeants who were sentenced to years of hard labor recently for having what they say were consensual affairs with young trainees under their command?

Why should sergeants go to prison, but the commander in chief remain as president for possibly similar actions?

Also, any federal supervisor who had an affair during work hours at a federal facility with an intern would be fired - except the president at the White House. What kind of example does that set? Where are you leading the nation? The gutter?

- Remember Richard Nixon? He was forced out of office not for a botched burglary attempt of Democratic offices at the Watergate Hotel but for trying to cover up his campaign's involvement.

In your speech to the nation, you deny technically lying under oath or asking anyone else to lie about your relations with Monica Lewinsky - but confirm that you intentionally "misled" the nation.

That's splitting the finest of hairs. What is misleading the public if it is not trying to cover up the affair? Deception, or "misleading," by its very nature is a cover-up and a lie.

Nixon never misled anyone while under oath. You acknowledge that you did. You say you accept responsibility for that. Well, responsibility should have consequences. Just look at Nixon. Are you telling us consequences no longer matter now?

- You didn't just "mislead" the public during the past seven months. You and your aides and friends also viciously attacked anyone who questioned what turned out to be your "misleading."

You are continuing to attack independent counsel Ken Starr, even though you are acknowledging he was essentially right that you tried to deceive us all. Your friends attacked Linda Tripp. They questioned Lewinsky's truthfulness, even though you knew better.

They blamed probes on a vast right-wing conspiracy, or mean-spirited politics by Republicans, even though you knew better - and had promised the most ethical administration in history.

You not only didn't apologize to any of them for that - although you did "regret" your deception - you are continuing your attacks. What are you teaching the nation by example - don't admit errors, just attack your attackers instead?

- You have used up all the benefit of the doubt you deserved from the public.

You once deceived the public into thinking you had never used marijuana by saying you had never violated U.S. laws - but later admitted smoking it in England. Then you said you didn't inhale.

You claimed you never had an affair with Gennifer Flowers but then - we're told - finally admitted it the same deposition where you deceived the court about your affair with Lewinsky.

You misled us about how you misled your draft board to avoid military service during the Vietnam War. Even on forming the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, your aides insisted nothing was imminent only hours before you created it.

How can we believe you on anything? What should we think about claims by Paula Jones and Kathleen Willey that you made unwanted advances on them. You or your spokesmen have flatly denied it. Did you mislead us on that too? Your credibility is shot.

You have often talked about wanting a glowing place in history. You've earned a tawdry one now, except maybe to make scandals of Nixon and Warren Harding seem small in comparison. There may be one way out.

That would be to finally, fully and truly accept responsibility and resign - and teach the country on the way out, in word and deed, that honesty and morality should matter. That would provide a truly valuable nugget for history.

Mr. President, it's time to resign.