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Evaluating Advice of White House Insiders

Bill Clinton doesn’t need the advice of Ken Khachigian, Bay Buchanan, Larry Thomas or Hugh Hewitt on how to fulfill the oath of office.

These Republicans, activists all, lost the presidential election, both Senate races in California, seats in the state Assembly, and sense the vulnerability of Pete Wilson in 1994.

To put it mildly, they’re disappointed, maybe even a tad angry. George Bush should not have lost the election. They’re right; but he did.

Bush lost not because he ran a terrible campaign, but because he abandoned the domestic responsibilities of the presidency in the year prior to the election. Republicans are perplexed.

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As a consequence, these Republican activists can’t wait for Bill Clinton to stumble as President.

But as the long presidential campaign showed, Bill Clinton was the Timex candidate--he took a licking and kept on ticking. Unlike Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton is not made of Teflon. In fact, Clinton is likely to anger a great many constituencies as he struggles to govern the nation. He’s never going to make Bay Buchanan’s constituency happy.

But leadership, especially when times are hard, isn’t revealed by converting the inconvertible or preaching to the choir. It’s revealed in worthwhile decisions, maybe even a bit of experimentation and letting the chips fall where they may. The inner strength, political skills and sense of public purposefulness Clinton showed as a candidate will serve him well as president if he can fully appreciate the difference between running for office and being in office.

Much of the advice from Orange County’s “fab four” will not assist Clinton in this endeavor. Clinton should deal forcefully with Congress, but should not assume, as does Khachigian, that Congress is the problem. Neither should Clinton become the “talk show President,” per the advice of Larry Thomas. The last thing America needs is a President on a leadership and moral par with every other talk show guest.

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Hewitt’s advice that words matter is valuable since so obvious a declaration is frequently ignored.

But great language won’t put people back to work, even if it makes then feel good for a while. If Clinton matches great deeds to great words, he could keep the “fab four” fuming till the turn of the century.

MARK P. PETRACCA

Irvine


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