Scattershot anger and disgust at President Clinton, combined with pervasive anxiety about the potential use and misuse of constitutional impeachment powers, left many editorial pages groping to find analytic prescriptions to ease the dilemmas facing Congress and the president.
At least 25 newspapers have called for the president's resignation, including seven that circulate 250,000 or more papers on Sundays: The New Orleans Times-Picayune, The Seattle Times, The Des Moines Sunday Register, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The San Jose Mercury-News, The Tampa Tribune and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The Albuquerque Journal on Sunday called Clinton "morally unfit to continue in office," while The Seattle Times said, "Without moral authority, the president cannot lead."Focusing on the damage the president's affair with Monica Lewinsky has done to the dignity and effectiveness of the presidency, The Journal-Constitution declared on Sunday that "only one person can spare us that nightmare" of a drawn-out discussion "of a particularly seamy presidential scandal." The president's "only responsible option" - resignation - would entail a sacrifice that the newspaper said Clinton "has shown himself incapable" of making.
At least two newspapers, The Charlotte Observer and The Detroit Free Press, argued against resignation. The Observer declared: "The nation is not endangered by having Bill Clinton in the White House. Our economy is not collapsing, we're not under attack, there's no threat of a coup. Surely the worst that can be said of him has been said."
The Detroit Free Press, in the hometown of John Conyers Jr., the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, acknowledged, "We cannot say we would be devastated" by a resignation, but continued, "For him to resign before this process is completed would be to cave in to the relentless Starr, and that could set a precedent that would make future presidents sitting ducks for their political enemies."
Overall, the ideas and analyses that emerged from the editorial pages reflected ambivalence and a sense of being overwhelmed by the issues involved.