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Jewish World Review / August 25, 1998 / 3 Elul, 5758

Roger Simon

Roger Simon Why it's all-Lewinsky-all-day-

EDGARTOWN, Mass. -- Every day, the reporters come into the grammar school gymnasium here on Martha's Vineyard and sit down at long tables.

They plug their computers into the outlets and attach their modems to the phone lines, and then, they wait.

They wait for Bill Clinton to do something. They wait for Bill Clinton to do anything.

Sure, he unleashed cruise missiles against terrorist targets in Sudan and Afghanistan. But that was Thursday. That was a million years ago.

Outside the gym, the TV reporters stand on their equipment boxes and talk into the cameras.

The TV reporters are dressed nicely from the waist up, because that is the only part that shows on television. From the waist down, they are dressed in shorts and sandals.

The White House media wizards would love Clinton to do something so the reporters could write stories that do not have the words "Lewinsky" or "Starr" in them.

That has been standard operating procedure for the White House media team since the earliest days of Clinton's presidency: Always put out a flood of information. Always have the president doing something or saying something so that becomes the story of the day and not something negative.

On vacation, even a picture will do: The Clintons going partying, boating, golfing would do nicely.

So what has happened?

Nothing has happened. No news, no pictures, no family outings.

Instead, we have gotten something very much like candor.

Asked the other day whether the Clinton family was getting along better in the wake of the president's admission that he had sexual relations with Lewinsky, White House spokesman Mike McCurry replied:

"I think he's working at it, and my guess is they've still got work to do. There is a healing process that needs to occur, and as far as I can tell, it's underway, but it's not done yet."

No kidding.

Monday, Clinton testified to the grand jury, went on national TV and admitted to an inappropriate sexual relationship with a woman who was 22 and working for him at the time.

Tuesday, the president and Hillary and Chelsea flew up to Martha's Vineyard, where the body language between Clinton and Hillary pointedly indicated that the healing process had not even begun.

Wednesday was the president's birthday, his 52nd, and the reporters waited for a big birthday party like the ones the president has had in the past with oodles of movie stars and other big names.

But there were no big names. And no big party. There was only a very small dinner with the Vernon Jordan family and the Clinton family. And no pictures.

Thursday, at his daily briefing, Mike McCurry was asked what presents the president had received, especially what he got from his wife.

A sweater, McCurry replied. Both families got him a sweater.

One sweater? From two families? That was it?

A sweater, McCurry said. A blue sweater.

Clearly, the healing process was still going on.

Then, McCurry announced the president was going to show up in 10 minutes with an important announcement.

Which was good news for the media wizards. The president was not only making news but making news in his role as commander in chief. And the pictures were good.

Thursday afternoon, the president flew back to Washington, stayed overnight and then came back late Friday afternoon.

He got off the plane, walked into his waiting car, and that was it. No other pictures.

Saturday, I had pool duty. That means I sat in a tent at the extreme edge of the 60-acre compound where the Clintons are vacationing and waited for the president to do something. I had been warned that he was itching to play golf.

And I figured he might want to get out of the house.

No such luck. Clinton stayed inside all day, although Chelsea met some of her friends at the beach.

Saturday night, the president was finally allowed out. He and Hillary went to a party for four hours at the home of an investment banker. The attendees were a very sedate crowd. No Hollywood stars. They included: William Styron, the author, Beverly Sills, the opera singer, and Katharine Graham, executive board chairman of The Washington Post.

If anybody got a little tipsy and started a game of strip Twister, I never heard about it. The reporters and photographers were kept far away.

Sunday, well, Sunday was a given: The Clintons would go to church. The president has been a regular church-goer all his life, and the Sunday before, which was the day before he gave his testimony to the grand jury, he and Hillary were photographed going into church in Washington hand in hand.

And on Martha's Vineyard, you can go from church to golf without even changing clothes. (It's a very casual island.)

But Sunday came and went, and there was no church. No hand-holding. And no golf.

Instead, the president stayed in with his family.

Bad for the reporters. Bad for the media wizards.

But maybe, one hopes, good for the healing process.


8/21/98: From magnifying glass to microscope
8/19/98: Let's be blunt: Bubba really needs a shrink --- and fast!
8/13/98: At home, with real, live FOBs
8/11/98: Bubba's new secret weapon: the Marine Band
8/07/98: Has the presidency been reduced to a 'Leno' joke?
8/05/98: Tell the truth?
7/30/98: All ya need is luv...and to deny, deny, deny
7/28/98: 'Man-of-da-people,' huh?
7/23/98: Can frequent-flyer miles alone earn Bubba a Nobel Prize?
7/21/98: San Francisco: not only 'gay,' but happy
7/17/98: Why Bubba claims Y2K is US' biggest problem
7/14/98: Close Amtrak --- PLEASE!
7/9/98: Flag burning is for nuts!
7/7/98: Forget about his legal defense fund, buy Bubba shirts!
7/1/98: Wall-nuts
6/26/98: Perks and the press
6/23/98: There's a good reason Bubba wants gun-control...
6/19/98: Why Clinton can get away with going to Tiananmen Square
6/16/98: Maybe Big Brother ain't so bad after all
6/11/98: He claimed responsibility for Rwanda, so why isn't Bubba stopping Serbian genocide?
6/9/98: The Internet president?
6/4/98: You can call me ‘slick;' and you can call me ‘sick;' but never call me ‘Dick' .... as in Nixon, that is
6/2/98: Being a 'talkin'-head' is hard work
5/29/98 Pay the pol, pick the policy
5/27/98 A 'loo' in London
5/21/98Buba is back from Europe ... but what did he accomplish?
5/18/98Roses for Buba
5/12/98: Just who is "Mr. Republican" these days?"
5/7/98:"Why Clinton keeeps "going and going and going""
5/1/98:"Bubba v. Tabacka"
4/29/98:"You may ask, but should they tell?"
4/24/98:"McCurry and the kids from the ‘hood "
4/23/98: "NOW" should change its name to "THEN"
4/20/98: Freedom to be a jerk?
4/14/98: Bill is Hef's kinda guy
4/7/98: South African memories --- and a paradise not yet found
3/24/98: Bill's 12-day safari
3/20/98: Peace for Ireland?
3/18/98: Flat tire? Spare me
3/13/98: Latrell Sprewell's genius
3/10/98: On truth and reality
3/5/98: No, I'm not harrassing Hillary
3/3/98: The Unforgettable Henny Youngman
2/26/98: Grow up, boys!
2/24/98: Go get 'em, Bill!
2/19/98: My 15 minutes
2/17/98: The manic-depressive presidency
2/12/98: Drip, Drip, Drip
2/10/98: Clinton tunes out the networks
2/5/98: The flight of the Beast: America's love-hate relationship with scandal
2/3/98: Speaking Clintonese
1/29/98: What the president has going for him
1/27/98: Judgment call: how Americans view President Clinton
1/22/98: Bimbo eruptions past and present
1/20/98: Feeding the beast: Paula Jones gets the full O.J.
1/15/98: Let's get it over with: it's time to deal with Saddam, already
1/13/98: Sonny Bono is dead, let the good times roll
1/8/98: Carribbean Cheesecake: First couple has cake, eats cake
1/6/98: PO'ed: a suspected druggie jumps through the employment hoops
1/1/98: Cures for that holiday hangover
12/30/97: Buy stuff now
12/25/97: Peace to all squirrelkind
12/23/97: Home for the Holidays: Where John Hinckley, never convicted, will not be
12/18/97: Bill's B-list Bacchanalia: Press and politicos get cozy, to a point
12/16/97: All dressed up... (White House flack Mike McCurry speculates on his next career)

©1998, Creators Syndicate, Inc.