PARIS, Jan. 25 -- Across Europe this week, reaction to the sex scandal dogging President Clinton is a mix of puzzled alarm, admonition, chuckles and curiosity. In France, where issues of sexual liaison involving politicians are less rigorously discussed and generally unrecorded by the news media, public opinion can best be described in an amused Gallic shrug. But that hasn't prevented French newspapers from devoting considerable space to Clinton's troubles. The weekend edition of the newspaper Liberation touted its latest article about former White House intern Monica Lewinsky and Clinton with the headline: 'The Uncontrollable libido of Bill Clinton.' But it advised readers of the context of the scandal, saying: 'The ferocity with which American politicians are grilled about their private lives has less to do with sex and good morals than it does with telling the truth.' This is a country where President Francois Mitterrand's mistress and their illegitimate daughter attended his 1996 funeral, walking behind the coffin next to his widow and sons. And Sud-Ouest, one of the biggest regional newspapers, offered the opinion, 'There are some days when it feels very good to be French.' The newspaper admonished the 'tyranny of (U.S.) puritans that sometimes makes the beautiful American democracy resemble a police state.' In Britain, where sex and politics are familiar media topics, the daily newspapers and television have plunged into Clinton's troubles with zest. Britain's Sunday Telegraph's headline today signals, 'Hillary takes charge in Washington,' and the Sunday Times headline roared, 'Clinton was with hundreds of women.'
The German paper Die Tageszeitung characterized Clinton with the headline 'President Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,' while the Russian Segodnya newspaper had the headline 'Impeachment for Love.' And reflecting a puzzled disbelief that Lewinsky might bring down the presidency, columnist David Aaronovitch wrote in the Independent of London of global bewilderment. He speculated if Clinton has to resign, 'it will represent the greatest victory yet for monstrous triviality over reasoned debate in the political life of the West.' In Italy, the daily newspaper Corriere della Sera took a more prudish view scolding Clinton for what it said was his 'inexplicable weakness of character.' Denmark's daily Politiken complained, 'The American public's childish obsession with smut and scandals is not compatible with a well- functioning democracy.' But the prestigious French newspaper Le Monde summed up Europe's view with the observation, 'America is sick, from a form of judiciary- investigatory hysteria.' ----
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