Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Paula Jones and the Economy

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Paula Jones and the Economy

Article excerpt

A reporter must be cautious in measuring the political impact of this latest happening in the Paula Jones story - the Supreme Court's decision that the trial need not be delayed until after President Clinton leaves office. So, as is my custom, I've been listening to those best able to provide insights.

First, at a Monitor breakfast, the president's pollster, Mark Penn, furnished me with Mr. Clinton's perception of the damage he's sustained. He indicated that Clinton is unperturbed and that the episode was quickly moving out of public interest.

"On the second day," he said, "the story is off the front pages. It doesn't have legs." "Why?" a reporter asked. Mr. Penn insisted the public is me-oriented, focused almost entirely on whether the president is "getting things done" for them. "And every day," he went on, "Clinton is out there, getting things done." "But wasn't the new Jones episode a possible threat to the presidency?" someone else asked. "No," said Penn, "the only threat is if the economy should go bad." "Even if it drags on?" "No." Obviously, we were listening to a Clinton loyalist. Yet he had credibility: After all, Penn was talking about a president who had weathered many storms relating to his personal conduct. We all remember the Gennifer Flowers flap during the 1992 campaign that was supposed to knock Clinton out of the race - and didn't. There were other flaps - like those that centered on how Clinton avoided the draft and how he tried marijuana but didn't inhale. At first, each appeared to be terribly damaging, if not politically fatal, to Clinton. But they all passed. And Clinton survived. Next I talked to a highly respected Democrat, someone who has been a key adviser in several administrations and a 30-year reliable source. He agreed to talk candidly - but not for attribution. "I've known Clinton since he was a young fellow," he said. …

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