WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) -- The impeachment of former President Clinton is in a gray area of history, too long ago to be a current event, too recent to be judged in perspective. Yet history is already judging Clinton in the place where millions of students get their information about him -- textbooks.
Seven years after he was impeached in a scandal of sex, perjury and bitter politics, Clinton has become a fixture in major high school texts.
The impeachment is portrayed in the context of his two-term tenure, a milestone event, but not one that overshadows how Clinton handled the economy, crime and health care.
The most commonly used texts give straightforward recaps of Clinton's toughest days, with some flavor of how it affected the nation. Absent are any of the lurid details of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky that spiced up daily news reports and late-night talk shows as the scandal and impeachment played out in 1998 and early 1999.
"It should not be in the book for titillating purposes or settling scores," said Alan Brinkley, the Columbia University provost who has written or contributed to several history text books. "It should be in the book because of its significance to our recent history."
My first question is what took our public school system so long to include in their textbooks one of the most sordid events in our nation's history? Secondly, since when is it "judging" someone to make notice of an event that defined their character and proved vital in changing the course of a nation? Ever since elementary school I was taught that Andrew Johnson was the only President to be impeached and that Richard Nixon was the only President to resign. Regardless of how you feel about either one of those men their legacies are, in part, shaped by their downfalls.
So why shouldn't our kids be reminded about Slick Willie and his personal indiscretions while commander-in-chief? It was an embarassment to this country, it was an embarassment to everyone who voted for him and Slick Willie had no one to blame for everything that led to his impeachment but himself (that is, of course, unless you're a liberal who has no problem with adultery, much less the crime of lying under oath). Granted, I've never liked Bill Clinton, but the annals of our history isn't to judge, it's to present facts without bias. If our future leaders are to assess Bill Clinton in the proper context than they must be provided with ALL the information: good, bad and Monica Lewinsky.
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