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Jewish World Review / Sept 4, 1998 / 13 Elul, 5758

Roger Simon

Roger Simon Bubbasky

MOSCOW -- We waited in Red Square outside the walls of the Kremlin for the Russian security agents to check our credentials, a process they took with the same seriousness, say, as a space launch.

A steady rain fell on us. There had been rumors of sun in Moscow, but this was dismissed as a fantasy, the same kind of fantasy that imagined Russia would solve its economic problems some time before the millennium.

Eventually, we were allowed to walk through a door in the Kremlin wall and enter one of the most magnificent rooms I have ever been in.

It was Catherine's Hall, which sits under a huge blue and white rotunda crowned by an ornate cupola ringed by golden double-headed eagles symbolizing imperial Russia.

Here in this awe-inspiring room, Bill Clinton would have his joint press conference with Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

Here, Bill Clinton would answer the questions of the White House press corps about economics and nuclear proliferation and missile technology.

Yeah. Right. Forget about it.

Clinton took three questions from American reporters, and two of them were about Monica Lewinsky.

Clinton was asked if he was weakened as a world leader as a result of his relationship with the former White House intern and whether he wanted to apologize for his behavior.

The Russian reporters asked Boris Yeltsin softball questions about U.S. friendship and NATO. And when they heard what the U.S. reporters asked the U.S. president, some of the Russians gasped.

They were stunned that reporters would ask such rude and personal questions of their own president.

But then again, none of the Russians had grown up in a democracy. And they are still learning about it how it works.

Not that all Americans, however, were in favor of what the American reporters did.

After the press conference, U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, who is accompanying Clinton on his six-day trip to Russia, Northern Ireland and Ireland this week, furiously admonished Reuters reporter Larry McQuillan, who had asked one of the Lewinsky questions.

"As an American, I'm outraged," Hoyer said. He said the questions had been an attempt to embarrass the president and that the media should "drop its obsession" with Lewinsky because the American public did not care.

Hoyer also said repeatedly, however, that he did not condone Clinton's behavior.

If Clinton was outraged by the questioning, he did not show it and instead used the press conference to make his most extended remarks to date on Lewinsky since his admission of wrongdoing

Saying he was "heartened" and "quite encouraged" by the reaction of the American people to his admission of an inappropriate relationship with Monica Lewinsky, he declined once again to say he was sorry.

"I thought it was clear that I was expressing my profound regret to all who were hurt and to all who were involved," Clinton said, speaking of his Aug. 17 address to the nation regarding the Lewinsky matter.

"I have acknowledged that I made a mistake, said that I regretted it, asked to be forgiven, spent a lot of very valuable time with my family in the last couple of weeks and said I was going back to work," he went on. "I believe that's what the American people want me to do, and based on my conversations with leaders around the world, I think that's what they want me to do, and that is what I intend to do."

White House aides could not provide the name of a single world leader, however, who had talked to Clinton about Lewinsky, and after the press conference, White House spokesman Mike McCurry said: "I don't have the impression that he has discussed (the Lewinsky matter) specifically with anyone."

McCurry said the support from world leaders had been "general."

On Aug. 17, after spending several hours giving testimony via closed circuit TV to a grand jury investigating the Lewinsky matter, Clinton went on live television and said: "Indeed, I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong. It constituted a critical lapse in judgment and a personal failure on my part for which I am solely and completely responsible."

Clinton also said that day: "I know that my public comments and my silence about this matter gave a false impression. I misled people, including even my wife. I deeply regret that."

He did not, however, say he was sorry or ask to be forgiven.

Eleven days later, while on vacation in Martha's Vineyard, he somewhat cryptically said: "All of you know, I'm having to become quite an expert in this business of asking for forgiveness. It gets a little easier the more you do it. ... And so it is important that we are able to forgive those we believe have wronged us, even as we ask for forgiveness from people we have wronged."

Got that? I don't. I am not sure what he is talking about.

I am sure, however, that he would be better off apologizing directly rather than dancing around the matter.

It's really pretty simple: If Bill Clinton is sorry about what he has done, if he is sorry about deceiving the American people, his Cabinet, his top aides, his wife and his daughter, then he should say so.

I can write the whole speech for him. It is only two words long. It goes like this:

"I'm sorry."


8/27/98: Cigars?
8/25/98: Why it's all-Lewinsky-all-day-all-night
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.