Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The conscience of the presidency

The implications for our country are so serious that I feel a responsibility to my constituents in Connecticut, as well as to my conscience, to voice my concerns forthrightly and publicly, and I can think of no more appropriate place to do so than the floor of this great body.

The President is also a role model, who, because of his prominence and the moral authority that emanates from his office, sets standards of behavior for the people he serves.

I have not commented on this matter publicly. I thought I had an obligation to consider the President's admissions more objectively, less personally, and to try to put them in a clearer perspective.

But the truth is, after much reflection, my feelings of disappointment and anger have not dissipated. Except now these feelings have gone beyond my personal dismay to a larger, graver sense of loss for our country, a reckoning of the damage that the President's conduct has done to the proud legacy of his presidency, and ultimately an accounting of the impact of his actions on our democracy and its moral foundations.

The President's relationship with Miss Lewinsky not only contradicted the values he has publicly embraced over the past six years. It has compromised his moral authority at a time when Americans of every political persuasion agree that the decline of the family is one of the most pressing problems we as a nation are facing.

Let us as a nation honestly confront the damage that the President's actions over the last seven months have caused, but not to the exclusion of the good that his leadership has done over the past six years nor at the expense of our common interests as Americans. And let us be guided by the conscience of the Constitution, which calls on us to place the common good above any partisan or personal interest, as we now work together to resolve this serious challenge to our democracy. Thank you.


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