Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Clinton's Game Plan Is Being Tested Early

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Clinton's Game Plan Is Being Tested Early

Article excerpt

LONG-TIME observers of the Washington scene haven't seen anything like this. Before he hardly hits the ground President Clinton is stirring up things royally. After only two days in office, headlines like these could be read:

"Joint Chiefs Fighting Plan to Allow Homosexuals in Military;" "Clinton Cancels Abortion Restrictions of Reagan-Bush Era;" "President Takes Blame for Rushing Baird Selection;" "Gag Rule on Clinics, Federal Bans on Fetal Tissue Research Are Lifted;" "Thousands Voice Opposition {to Clinton} in 20th Annual March for Life."

Most presidents are still trying to get settled in the White House at such an early moment. We breathlessly await Mr. Clinton's next move. Is he off to a bad start that will mar his administration? Or will he be able to sweep some highly controversial issues behind him in order to clear the way for a host of major programs? The last was obviously his intent, particularly on the abortion and gay issues. But he's been roughed up by Congress on his gays-in-the-military initiative.

No president in my memory has assumed his new duties and responsibilities with such immediate forcefulness. Indeed, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was still transforming himself from a relatively conservative-sounding campaigner into the liberal experimenter and activist president that he became.

Those Clinton headlines tell of a president who had already made up his mind about what he was going to do before he arrived. And he's doing it - or, at least, trying to do it. He's convinced that his prospects for victory on a number of what he considers vital initiatives are at their best when he first arrives and during his early months.

His nomination of Zoe Baird, which misfired? Well, he admits that this was the result of his insistence on speedy movement. He takes the blame and moves on - implying that his blueprint for rapid-fire action includes the likelihood that some decisions might suffer from this swift, judgmental process. Also, it's clear that Clinton didn't anticipate so much fuss over gays in the military. He should have.

I haven't figured out Bill Clinton yet. I saw during the inaugural how wonderful he is in dealing with people. …

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