Bill Clinton, will you please stick to your decisions?


June 13, 1993|By ROGER SIMON

I don't care what decisions Bill Clinton makes any more; I just want him to stick to one of them.

How can a man who stood for so much during his campaign now refuse to stand behind what he stood for?


Candidate Bill Clinton took a strong stand on allowing gays in the military.

President Bill Clinton is now not so sure. Maybe yes, maybe no, maybe some kind of compromise.

Candidate Bill Clinton took a strong stand against returning Haitian refugees to Haiti.

President Bill Clinton then decided to return Haitian refugees to Haiti.

Candidate Bill Clinton said he would use a "litmus test" in choosing his Supreme Court nominees: They would have to support a woman's right to choose an abortion.

President Bill Clinton now says he will use no litmus tests in choosing a Supreme Court nominee.

And speaking of choosing nominees for jobs, Bill Clinton has now become "The Dog Ate My Homework" president.

Zoe Baird? How could Bill know she had any problems with her nanny? Sure, he did his homework. And so did Hillary, who helped choose Baird. But the dog ate their homework!

Kimba Wood? The dog was still hungry.

Lani Guinier? There must have been two dogs.

The Lani Guinier case was even worse for Clinton than Baird and Wood because it raised an issue that Clinton is sensitive about: the accusation that he doesn't tell the full truth.

In the last months of the presidential campaign, this was George Bush's major issue against Clinton. Bush said that Clinton didn't have the character to tell the truth about the draft nor the %J character to tell the truth about a middle-class tax cut.

The American public did not buy Bush's attack, but now we must ask ourselves: Is Bill Clinton really being completely honest when he comes before us and says he had no idea where Lani Guinier stood on the issues before he nominated her to head the Justice Department's civil rights division?

Things have gotten so bad, in fact, that even when Bill Clinton is right, he won't stand behind it.

I am one of the few reporters who believe that Clinton was right to dump the staff of the White House travel office.

Some of the people there felt they had lifetime jobs and acted like it. The last time I got a phony billing from them and refused to pay it, they were outraged.

(So why are so many highfalutin' journalists defending these people? Because the White House travel staff treated many of these same journalists like the little princes and princesses they imagine themselves to be.)

But what did Clinton do after he fired the travel staff? He began to backpedal. And decided maybe he made a mistake and that some of them shouldn't be fired but suspended with full pay, blah, blah, blah.

Then consider what happened with Congress: Bill Clinton went to the House of Representatives and insisted that it pass his budget. He cajoled; he twisted arms; he spent political capital.

And the House went along. And then the budget plan went to the Senate and Clinton immediately caved in and told the senators to make whatever changes they wanted.

And so a lot of representatives are going around Washington saying: "Even when you give the guy what he wants, he screws you!"

To solve all Clinton's problems, the White House has brought in David Gergen, who was an image-maker for Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan.

But Bill Clinton does not need an image-maker.

He needs a backbone.

Gergen wants to push Bill Clinton to the middle of the road. But in politics as in real life, the only thing in the middle of the road is a yellow stripe.

The real gridlock in Washington is not between the White House and Congress but between Bill Clinton's ears.

But I hope he has learned a lesson from these past messy weeks:

Do your homework. (Keep it away from the dog.) Make your decision. And stick to it!

Otherwise, the old joke may turn out to be true:

Q: Is Bill Clinton going to be a one-term president?

A: Yeah, he might last that long.

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