On big days like last Tuesday, White House aides often congregate in chief of staff Leon Panetta's office to watch the network news. A few hours earlier, President Clinton had announced that he was abandoning attempts to win congressional approval for a plan to bolster the Mexican peso with $40 billion in loan guarantees.
FEW PRESIDENTS HAVE dropped from sight as completely as Bill Clinton in the weeks leading up to his State of the Union Message. Last Friday, to squeeze a few seconds of air time on the evening news, he was reduced to inviting television cameras in as he recorded his weekly radio speech.
Clarence Thomas lives in a conservative cocoon. For a daily paper, he reads only the right-wing Washington Times. He hires the most conservative law clerks and speaks primarily before groups like the National Association of Evangelicals and at schools like Virginia's Christendom College.
WHEN HE THINKS OF Congress and health reform, Sen. Harris Wofford likes to quote Winston Churchill in 1941 on the question of whether America would join the fight against the Nazis. ""I have confidence that the American people, in their good common sense, will, in the end, do the right thing,'' said Churchill, with a wink, ""after they have tried every other alternative.'' Wofford may have picked the right analogy, and certainly the Clintons regard health reform as a warlike crusade.
ANGRY AND DRAINED BY Whitewater. Bill Clinton looked hard last week for an emotional elixir. He found it in the Hogs. By making the NCAA basketball tournament, the University of Arkansas Razorbacks enabled Clinton to fulfill every American boy's fantasy: not winning the presidency, but appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Kevin Forth is a card-carrying member of Beer Drinkers of America. He's a regular reader of Heads Up magazine, which carries articles like "Al Bundy says, 'Don't tax my beer'." His beer-distributing company in Orange County, Calif., is responsible for giving liquor stores the red and white Bud blimps that hang over the suds section.