JUST a little over a year ago, Roger Altman, deputy secretary of the Treasury, was at the top of the world.
He had been tapped by the Clinton White House to take charge of the "war room" organized for a giant push for passage of the president's landmark deficit-reduction economic plan. After the measure passed by only one vote in the House and the Senate, relieved White House staffers had a party to celebrate and praise Mr. Altman
That was August 1993. August 1994 brought his resignation because of his misleading testimony before Congress on the Whitewater affair.
Journalist Bob Woodward, in his best-selling book, "The Agenda: Inside the Clinton White House," paints this now-poignant picture:
"The Roosevelt Room was filling up and soon was packed with 150 cabinet officers, White House staff, and others. Rock concert-style T-shirts, with the words 'PRESIDENT CLINTON'S ECONOMIC PLAN, VICTORY AUGUST 6' emblazoned across the front, were handed out.
" 'Rog-er! Rog-er! Rog-er! the chant began, summoning Altman, the leader of the War Room. The rhythmic clapping grew. Altman was pulled along, mounted a chair, and held up a T-shirt. The room exploded with wild cheering.
"He read a David Letterman-style top-ten list: The Top Ten Reasons Why Congress Really Passed the Economic Plan. He recited them to an easy crowd: Not to offend Hillary. So congressmen won't be required to lunch with the president again. So congressmen won't have to negotiate with Bob Dole at Andrews Air Force Base. So the Clinton staff can finish high school. And the last reason -- Time for summer vacation."