Senate will set tenor for nation's new year

January 01, 1999

IT TAKES neither genie nor wise man to be wary of coming attractions this January.

In this new year, may sane and sensible minds in the Senate accede to the urging -- no, the demands -- of the American people who desperately desire a quick end to the national nightmare called impeachment. Otherwise, it is going to be a long, cold winter and national discontent may reach the boiling point.

The first major event of January, the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton impacts the month's second important congressional attraction -- President Clinton's State of the Union Address. Not to mention the rest of the year's congressional agenda.

If the Senate acts wisely and with dispatch this month, Congress and the country will be freed to focus on the future.

So far, signs appear promising. Senate leaders say they hope to begin the impeachment trial proceedings on Jan. 11 and conclude them a day before the State of the Union on Jan. 19.

The upper chamber should stick to that schedule so Congress and the nation can get back on track.

Specifically, Americans are anxious to get back to work on extending an already protracted economic boom that is the base for the good tidings of recent years.

These boom times feature a long list of declining rates: crime, teen pregnancy, welfare. The declines are augmented by amazing performances by the stock market and other economic growth indicators that mostly continue to promise more of same.

The new year also finds that Americans who -- while weary of Washington -- are not about to turn the country over to religious zealots or other extremists, in spite of such fears several years ago when militia movements were making headway.

Fortunately, some Senators are sensitive to the unease Americans feel about the Clinton impeachment trial. But while earnestly searching for a way to end the nightmare, they also are seeking a solution that doesn't embarrass their colleagues in the House.

That's fine, as long as the issue can be resolved quickly without swallowing up the rest of the year.

The new year, especially this new year, should be a time of optimism. For the most part, the public is positive about 1999 and the future. Now Washington, too, must begin to move forward.

This is the last year of the century. Enjoy January, enjoy 1999.

Pub Date: 1/01/99

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