Only in America

On September 21, world leaders gave President Bill Clinton a standing ovation at the United Nations. A few days earlier, Vaclav Havel, president of the Czech Republic, stood perplexed at the president’s side as reporters questioned Clinton’s moral authority to govern; Mr. Havel reiterated his friendship for the besieged Clinton. Ditto Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s national hero and retiring president, as he received the Congressional Gold Medal from Clinton before a gathering of Congress.

Are these world leaders moral nihilists?

Or are they simply indifferent to our national obsession with Monica Lewinsky, Kenneth Starr, Henry Hyde, David Kendall, Newt Gingrich, Paula Jones, and, oh yes, Bill and Hillary Clinton?

Or could there be something truly terrifying for the rest of the world in watching the one and only superpower preoccupied with salacious sex? There are, after all, more important problems facing the world than either the sins or the fate of Bill Clinton: the economies of Japan, Brazil, and Southeast Asia; the political and economic shambles in Russia; the bloodletting in Kosovo; the barely breathing peace talks in the Middle East; the precarious state of a globalized economy; the coming shift to a single currency in Europe, to name but a few.

World leaders, and everyone else, are right to worry. The American political elite-politicians, journalists, lawyers-seem driven by...

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