Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

How Would Clinton Handle a Divided Government?

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

How Would Clinton Handle a Divided Government?

Article excerpt

If all the prophecies self-fulfill, then the top priority of Bill Clinton's second term will to be avert retribution for the actions of his first.

That would not be difficult if he gets a Democratic Congress. With Michigan's John Conyers taking chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee, no impeachment would come out of committee if his Democratic president were to shred the Constitution on live television.

With one-party rule, Clinton's survival strategy would be to (1) destroy the independent counsel's potential case by pardoning every blackmailing felon or vulnerable aide; (2) claim re-election was an "acquittal by the people" of charges of Whitewater obstruction of justice, Travelgate and Filegate, and Asian Connection influence-peddling; (3) stonewall the media, which has accepted his abandonment of press conferences. But what if American voters express their distrust and resistance to radical change by continuing the divided government we have today? How would this Democratic president handle a new check-and-balance Republican Congress? Then, assuming the chickens of scandal come home to roost, Clinton would have to choose one of two approaches: 1. Join 'em. Create a government of national unity. Appoint hawkish Dick Lugar secretary of state and independent Sam Nunn to Defense, removing national-security criticism; use the Republicrat Warren Rudman to head a blue-ribbon entitlement-control commission, settling into the political center and pulling partisan teeth. Even find a special-emissary role for Bob Dole (a la FDR's use of Wendell Willkie) and a campaign-finance sop to Ross Perot. The join-'em strategy means: Refrain from controversial pre-emptive pard ons. When the independent counsel's grand juries indict, let the law take its course, while stumping for a legal defense fund for all loyal aides. Urge plea bargains that admit only misdemeanors; if a criminal trial of the first lady cannot be avoided, sit in the front row holding her hand. Even as an unindicted co-conspirator, the system-upholding president could elicit sympathy that would avert House impeachment, or if need be, Senate conviction. …

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