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September 16, 1998 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-09-16

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NATION/WORLD

The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 16, 1998 - 5

Lewinsky
scandal
boosts
G.O.P
The Washington Post
WASHINGTON - The White
House sex scandal has weakened
President Clinton's leverage for his
end-of-the-session test of wills with
Congress, spreading gloom among
Democrats and giving Republicans a
new edge in negotiating issues rang-
ing from taxes and spending to health
care, the environment and procedures
for the next census.
Democrats worry that Clinton may
have lost his ability to use the White
House bully pulpit to champion their
proposals for regulating managed
health care. Republicans say he may
feel a greater need to compromise
with them on funding levels and tax
cuts. And neither side is likely to push
too hard to expand Clinton's trade-
negotiating powers while the House is
considering impeaching him, others
have observed.
"It's clear he's weaker than he was a
year or two ago... and people will no
longer believe it if he stands up and
blames everything on 'extremists' on
the Hill who want to do bad things,"
said Sen. Mitch McConnell, (R-Ky.)
According to McConnell, loss of credi-
bility arising out of the Monica
Lewinsky affair has undermined
Clinton's ability to blame Republicans

Media holds Clinton to

higher n
Thec '""ashington Post
NASHINGTON - For months now.
many media commentators have been
saying, in private and on telev ision chat
shows, that the public would come to
share their outrage about President
Clinton soon enough. Once ordinary
Americans learned the steamy details of
Clinton's conduct, once the indepen-
dent counsel's findings became public,
the president's poll ratings would surely
plummet.
Yet less than a week after the release
of Kenneth Starr's sexually explicit
report. there has been no such public
explosion. Sizable majorities still tell
pollsters they approve of the president's
job performance and oppose impeach-
ment or resignation.
The contrast with the media's collec-
tive sense of betrayal has never been
starker. USA Today has joined such
newspapers as the Philadelphia
Inquirer, Des Moines Register, Atlanta
Journal-Constitution, San Jose Mercury
News and Detroit Free Press in urging
Clinton to resign over the Monica
Lewinsky affair. The weekend talk
shows were filled with indignant ques-
tions and harsh commentary, as were
the newsmagazines that came out this
week.
All this underscores what David
Corn, Washington editor of the liberal
Nation magazine, calls "the umbrage
gap."
The Lewinskv saga is, after all. hard
to escape. Americans are bombarded
daily with what news executives regard
as a story of grave consequence - on

oral standards

AP PHOTO
President Clinton's sex scandal may have severly hampered the Democratic's
ability to push legislation through Congress.

the front pages, on the nightly news, on
talk radio, on the Internet.
This leaves manv journalists, who
gauge public opinion for a living, puz-
zled that so many people can give
Clinton such low marks for honesty and
integrity and yet approve of his perfor-
mance as president.
"The greatest surprise in this whole
story is the ongoing gap between the
elites -- who now almost uniformly
despise Clinton -- and the people, who
have stuck with him so far," writes
Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter.
In Corn's view, the story feels per-
sonal for the Washington press corps.
"There's a yuppie revenge attitude
going on here," Corn said. "We in the
media class know Bill Clinton or peo-
ple who work for Bill Clinton; he's in
the same college dorm as we are. ie's
the guy raising his hand in the front of
the classroom, always getting away
with stuff. But the public looks at politi-
cians and says, 'We care about whether
you care about US. We're the story, not
you."'
Cokie Roberts, co-host of ABC's
"This Week" and the daughter of two
members of Congress, described the
journalistic view of public officials this
way: "We admire them more. We hold
politicians in higher regard than the
public does and therefore we expect
more of them. The notion that 'they're
all like that' offends us....
"I'm sure that for some (media) peo-
ple there's a sense that we're going to
prove ourselves to be right, the people
who said early on that he'd never live

"Theres a yuppie
revenge attitude
going on here. "
- David Corn
Editor of Nation magazine
through this. I have more of a sense of
sadness."
In recent days, many media commen-
tators have expressed disgust both with
Clinton's behavior and his insistence
that he did not commit perjury when he
denied under oath jiaving had "sexual
relations" with Lewinsky.
Fox's Brit Hume: "If this were in a
court of law and he tried to make a dis-
tinction like that... there'd be a 10-
minute recess while they got the jury's
laughter to stop. This is absurd."
Time's Margaret Carlson: "What I'm
struck by in reading the report is it took
$40 million to nail this piece of human
Jell-O to the wall. He can't slither away
from what he did because of this
report."
Wall Street Journal columnist Al Hunt:
"It is sleazy. It is kinky. It is repulsive and
I couldn't wait to turn the page."
Interviewers questioning the presi-
dent's lawyers Sunday struck a tone of
disbelief. After White House counsel
Charles Ruff insisted on "Meet the
Press" that Clinton had not committed
perjury, host fim Russert said: "Now,
are the American people supposed to
believe that?"

for any failures, including another gov-
ernment shutdown if Clinton and
Congress deadlock over funding for
federal agencies for next year.
In the past, Clinton has been
adept at using veto threats to get his
way. Only two years ago Clinton
had the upper hand as Congress
drew to a close and Republicans -
who had been blamed by the public
for the 1995 shutdowns -cut deals
with him on education, health and
raisinu the minimum wage in order
to get home and campaign for re-
election.

White House officials insist that
Clinton will not retreat from fights
with Republicans and that Democrats
will remain united behind him on
issues they care deeply about, such as
health care and increased spending
for schools. White House spokesper-
son Joe Lockhard said that Clinton
has made it clear he will "stand up for
his priorities" and veto any bills that
violate them.
Moreover, Republicans have
learned from painful experience that
Clinton can be highly resourceful in
getting out of tight political corners.

I

Starr tells
*Congress
investigation
cost millions
STARR
Continued from Page 1
es; 82,653 for supplies and services.
The figures do not include costs
that Starr's Washington or Arkansas
offices incurred investigating other
matters during the same period.
The other aspects of the
Whitewater investigation already
have cost about $40 million over 4
1/2 years - a figure Democrats
have used frequently to attack the
investigation.
The S4.4 million does not include
costs other government agencies -
the White House, Justice
Department and Treasury
Department - incurred waging
unsuccessful legal battles to stop
presidential advisers, lawyers and
Secret Service agents from testify-
ing before Starr's grand jury.
The White House hired an outside
lawyer, Neil Eggleston, to make its
case for invoking executive privilege
and attorney-client privilege to block
Ecertain aides' testimony.
Even though it already has sent
Congress a report detailing I I possi-
ble grounds for impeaching Clinton
in the Lewinsky matter, Starr's
office is likely to incur additional
costs in the weeks ahead. It still
must fight a Supreme Court battle
over the attorney-client and execu-
tive privilege issues, which the
kNhite House appealed after losing
in lower courts.
Several figures in the indepen-
dent counsel investigation can seek
reimbursement under the law for
their legal bills if they are not
indicted. Several officials involved
in the Reagan and Bush era inde-
pendent counsel probes have
received such restitution, including
President Bush, who was awarded
$272,000.
I0 "Work on the Lewinsky investiga-
tion continues today, and many
members of our staff are still work-
ing on this matter," Deputy
Independent Counsel Jackie Bennett
Jr, wrote Congress in providing the
estimates.

v

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