Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Foes Stand Fast on Hearings Issue

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Foes Stand Fast on Hearings Issue

Article excerpt

The town is full of people trying to calculate the crippling effects of the Whitewater affair on the Clinton presidency.

Is it a glancing blow from a retractable baton such as suffered by Nancy Kerrigan, or is it more lethal? All we're seeing right now is vignettes: how it casts a shadow on a White House evening and curdles a pretty good Capitol Hill alliance.

The president's St. Patrick's Day gala for the Irish, a joyful assemblage, had it all: pipers, harpers, Jameson's and song. But Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, D-Maine, showed up late, bringing word of the 98-0 vote for the Whitewater hearings.

On Capitol Hill, where all is confusion, wild hopes and wild fears, people are transfixed by the sight of the two most independent members of the House, Rep. Henry Gonzalez, D-Texas, and Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa, at each other's throats. They're nothing alike, the explosive Hispanic chairman of the House Banking Committee who has the head of a buffalo and the tenacity of a terrier, and the ranking Republican, a polite, blond, apple-cheeked, corn-fed WASP who went to Princeton and does weekly broadcasts for the BBC.

They do not have much in common, it would seem, until you notice that they both go against the odds without a second thought. Leach has reflexively fought against conservative Republicans. He voted against so many Cold War measures during the Reagan years that Democrats took his vote on liberal causes like the nuclear freeze for granted.

Gonzalez took on the entire U.S. government. While the State Department, the White House, the Justice Department and the CIA railed, he hammered away on the murky matter of the Banco Nazionale del Lavoro. He stood on the House floor, hour after hour, after everyone else had gone home and pounded out the story of worldwide perfidy and of a conspiracy to use loans and grants to make friends with Saddam Hussein. He ignored the initial derision of his colleagues and the rage of Republicans. Gonzalez does not have the local compulsion about image.

In this enterprise, he had the support of the gentleman from Iowa. "I have supported every inquiry that he has initiated," Leach said. …

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