WASHINGTON -- Anticipating four more years of scandal for the president, R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. sums up his scenario for Bill Clinton's second term in a word: "Rosy." Tyrrell, a leading Clinton hater, intends to keep on tormenting the man he calls Boy Clinton, which is also the title of his best-selling biography of the president.
"Clinton's been good to us," chortles Tyrrell, the editor of the American Spectator magazine, tickled by the thought of presidential embarrassments still to be ridiculed and indictments yet to be handed down.
As Clinton puts the last touches on his second inaugural address, he is enjoying a second honeymoon with the public -- according to a new Pew Research Center poll, his popularity just hit a record high -- but not with his critics, who aren't backing off.
"We're going to be the chorus singing all the time. We sing day-in, day-out," boasts political activist Floyd Brown, another prominent Clinton hater. He predicts that Clinton will "limp through four years of nonstop accusations and scandal."
Republicans in Congress may soon swell the ranks of the anti-Clinton brigades, if they decide to retaliate for what they regard as unfair Democratic attacks on House Speaker Newt Gingrich. House and Senate investigators are already preparing for new rounds of committee hearings into Clinton's activities, including his contacts with foreign campaign contributors. "There are going to be a lot of Republican loyalists who will be thinking payback," Brown warns.
Indeed, some expect Clinton to be hounded even after he leaves office. Comparisons are being drawn, mostly by conservatives, with the late Richard M. Nixon, who continues to fascinate and whose 25-year-old utterances still make front-page news.
"My guess is they won't leave Clinton alone," says Roger Stone, a Republican strategist who was close to Nixon in his later years.
"There's a feeling that both Nixon and Clinton got where they were through trickery and cutting corners. And I think that Clinton has been as divisive a figure as Nixon was. So they're not going to get off his case."
Brown, who has turned his hatred of Clinton into a cottage industry, says, "I imagine we're going to be seeing books about Clinton for the next 30 years."
Clinton's antagonists are a disparate lot. Some are longtime adversaries from his home state of Arkansas, whose antipathy is as much personal as political.
Others spring from the left. In their eyes, Clinton hasn't been liberal enough on issues they care about most. Many liberals felt betrayed when he signed a welfare reform measure that the administration's experts said would push a million children into poverty.
Most of the hard-core anti-Clintonites are conservatives, of course. But the vehemence of their hatred remains something of mystery. It goes beyond their belief that Clinton is, at heart, a liberal. Instead, it extends to his personality, style and character.
"The hostility to Clinton is visceral and cultural, not ideological and programmatic," Ramesh Ponnuru of the conservative National Review has concluded. "Nobody was ever morally offended that Jimmy Carter was president; the same can't be said of Clinton."
Some have seized on the Clinton presidency as a chance to refight the culture wars of the 1960s. Tyrrell, one of his harshest critics, founded the conservative Spectator magazine on a college campus in 1967 as a counter to leftist students. He regards Clinton's administration as an extension of the "coat-and-tie radicalism" of the '60s, a period in which the future president took part in demonstrations against the Vietnam War, expressed contempt for the military and avoided the draft.
Clinton, of course, was still a graduate student at the time. He didn't really emerge as a national figure until five years ago. But that hasn't prevented others from using him to settle scores in a host of battles from the past in which Clinton played no part at all, such as the Clarence Thomas confirmation fight and Watergate.
More than ever, it seems, the ghost of Richard Nixon hovers over 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
At the start of the Clinton presidency, conservatives sought to equate Whitewater and Watergate -- by extension, linking Nixon, the only man to resign the presidency in disgrace, with Clinton, who has not been officially charged with any wrongdoing, as Clinton himself likes to say.
More recently, even liberal commentators have begun drawing comparisons between Clinton and Nixon. Clinton's suspicions about the national press corps have been likened to Nixon's.
Just this month, echoes of Nixonian paranoia were discovered ++ when a White House memorandum surfaced that purported to trace a conspiratorial "media food chain" of right-wing attacks on Clinton that had found their way into the mainstream press.