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Jewish World Review /Dec. 8, 1998 / 19 Kislev, 5759

Roger Simon

Roger Simon "Doing the people's business"

WASHINGTON -- For nearly a year now, Bill Clinton's fate has proceeded down two parallel tracks.

The first track was the political/policy/public performance track (they are virtually inseparable at the White House), and on this track, Clinton responded forcefully and effectively to the crisis caused by the revelation of his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

First, Clinton made his State of the Union speech, followed by large, enthusiastic public rallies, followed by policy initiatives (more teachers, saving Social Security before cutting taxes, etc.), leading up to the November elections, all of which was accompanied by strong poll numbers, foreign policy successes and a booming economy.

Things went very, very well on this track and made Clinton look and perhaps feel invulnerable.

But no matter how well things were going on this track, events were proceeding down the other track, the quasi-judicial/quasi-political track. There was Clinton's sworn statement to Paula Jones' lawyers, followed by an investigation by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr that turned up a stained dress containing physical evidence of Clinton's sexual relationship with Lewinsky, followed by Lewinsky's testimony to a grand jury, followed by Clinton's testimony to a grand jury, followed by Starr's report, followed by hearings currently underway in the House Judiciary Committee.

No matter how well things were going on the first track -- no matter how high the polls numbers were, no matter how well the Democrats did in the congressional elections, no matter how high the Dow rose -- these events could not derail the freight train rushing down the second track.

It has been a frustration to White House strategists. Their essential strategy could, like almost all Clinton strategies, be captured in a single phrase: "Doing the people's business."

While others (i.e., Republicans) wanted to wallow in scandal and occupy all their time with it, Clinton would be seen working for the public good, doing the job he was elected to do.

Along with this was a vigorous public-relations campaign (and a generally poor performance by Clinton's enemies) that led almost anybody who came up against Clinton to become diminished. Consider what has happened to the reputations of Starr, Lewinsky, Linda Tripp, Newt Gingrich and Henry Hyde over the past 11 months.

Clinton, on the other hand, has never been more popular. He has managed the neat trick of becoming the victim rather than the victimizer.

But except for nice poll numbers he can tack to his walls, what has it gained him?

With grand disdain for his popularity, the members of the House Judiciary Committee are going forward with an impeachment vote. It may come this week or early next week.

And even though Clinton's lawyers have been granted two days to make their case against impeachment, the Republican majority on the committee will almost surely vote to impeach Clinton on at least one count: perjury.

If the full House also votes for impeachment, Clinton will go to the Senate for trial, and the matter will go on into the new year.

Most people have been sick and tired of this story for a long time now.

But lawmakers are not most people. There won't be another congressional election for another two years, and lawmakers are feeling pretty invulnerable themselves.

So, given the Republican majority in the House, it's a pretty fair guess we are going to see a Senate trial. It will be very unusual. According to current rules, the trial must go on every day, "Sunday excepted," until it is finished, with all other business pushed aside.

Other business is passing laws and trivial stuff like that.

According to The Washington Post, "The Senate can conduct legislative business before the trial resumes or after the day's work is done." And you can imagine how eager the senators will be to do that after the trial drags on week after week, month after month.

How long could it go on? Nobody knows.

But in the end, the Senate will have to summon 67 out of 100 votes in order to remove Clinton from office, and as of now nobody -- not even Clinton's worst enemy -- believes 67 votes for removal exist.

In other words, after the whole, long, drawn-out and immensely costly process is over, Bill Clinton will still be president.

Does any of this make sense?

No, but who says politics has to?


12/04/98: Censure-plus
11/24/98: Bubba's brilliance
11/24/98: See Bubba run; Run, Bubba, run
11/20/98: Lost in Japan
11/17/98: Saddam will strike because we did not
11/12/98: Too bad we can't just blow Saddam away
11/10/98: Will the Republicans ever learn?
11/05/98: Monica? Monica who?
11/03/98: Telling the truth about journalists
10/30/98: The vanishing president
10/27/98:Bubba's last hurrah?
10/23/98: Podesta is used to cleaning toilets
10/15/98: Glenn will once again be an American original
9/24/98: The greatest political actor of our time
9/17/98: Bubba's 'weasel words' --only a partial list (There's only 24 hours in a day)
9/17/98: Hah, I told ya so!
9/08/98: Orthodox Jew Lieberman's moral outrage: Why religion matters in politics
9/04/98: Bubbasky
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.