The Peace Process: Why Can't We Just Be Friends?
(TIME, February 2) -- In Bill Clinton's initial 90-minute Oval Office meeting last
Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the
President chided his visitor for meeting with the Rev. Jerry Falwell
and evangelical Christian groups at the Mayflower Hotel
in Washington the day before coming to the White House. "Look,
Bibi," said Clinton firmly. "You meet with Falwell [because] you
think I am snubbing you. I could make the argument that you are
gigging me." The television evangelist, who is anathema to
Clinton, has distributed political videotapes that
conspiratorially--and unconvincingly--hint, among other things,
at the former Governor's complicity in an Arkansas killing.
Moreover, Netanyahu asked Falwell and his conservative
supporters to use their influence in Congress to lobby against
Administration pressure on Israel to hand over West Bank land to
the Palestinians. But the President was in a magnanimous mood,
telling Netanyahu, "Let's forget about it. We've got a lot of
work to do." Netanyahu agreed readily. The President's
initiative in defusing the issue improved the atmosphere of the
talks. Says a White House adviser: "Given the distractions
around here, the extent to which [the President] bent his
shoulder to the wheel was stunning."
--By Dean Fischer/Washington
Iraq: Squeezing Military Secrets Out of Saddam
Saddam Hussein's refusal to allow U.N. inspection of sensitive
sites suspected of harboring secrets about his chemical- and
biological-warfare capability has sharply raised the stakes in
the confrontation with the U.S. "Sooner or later, something is
going to give," President Clinton said publicly last week during
one of the few escapes he got from Zippergate. Privately, White
House aides are suggesting that U.S. military force may soon be
unavoidable. "We're not going to stand by if we feel that our
interests are profoundly threatened," says one. Administration
officials believe Saddam's political and military authority
would be disrupted by sustained bombing--even though they
acknowledge air power alone is unlikely to eliminate his
capability to resume production of chemical and biological
weapons. But if the U.N. monitors are unable to perform their
mission, little is lost by resort to force, they argue. In the
end, even the gulf states, though ambivalent about U.S. military
action, are more concerned about their security than about the
reaction on the Arab street. Their attitude has helped convince
Washington policymakers that failure to respond to Saddam's
seemingly endless provocations would have profound security
implications for the oil-rich region.
--By Dean Fischer/Washington
The last unknown soldier? 1st Lieut. Michael Blassie's 138th
combat mission ended in flames near An Loc, South Vietnam, in
May 1972, when the enemy blasted the wing off his plane. What is
unknown is whether Blassie, then a 24-year-old Air Force Academy
graduate, now rests beneath a sacred marble slab in the Tomb of
the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. That possibility
got a boost last week as veterans detailed their hunch that,
through snafus and an eagerness to anoint a Vietnam-era vet as
an unknown, the Pentagon ignored evidence that could have
determined if the six bones buried at Arlington are Blassie's.
The two World Wars and Korea generated thousands of unknown
candidates for the tomb. But by Vietnam, improved forensic
science had precluded nearly all anonymous KIAs. Pentagon
officials note that in 1984, when the Vietnam unknown was
selected, the DNA "fingerprinting" used today didn't exist. But
because of the Pentagon's desire to satisfy the Blassie family,
there is a good chance the remains will be exhumed to see if
they are his. If so, his family wants to rebury him back home
near St. Louis, or perhaps elsewhere in Arlington. Pentagon
officials believe such a move would signal the end of a military
--By Mark Thompson
Wag The Clinton
Much has been made of the similarities between the movie Wag the
Dog (one of the stars: Robert De Niro) and the
brouhaha in Washington (one of the stars: Vernon Jordan). But a
comparison reveals that Tinseltown fantasy is far
tamer than inside-the-Beltway reality.
MOVIE: Offscreen, President fondles "firefly girl" in back room
of White House.
REAL LIFE: On tape, intern allegedly recounts tales of oral sex
with President in back room of White House.
MOVIE: Events in Albania distract nation from scandal.
REAL LIFE: Scandal distracts nation from events in Cuba,
Ireland and Iraq.
MOVIE: Mr. Political Fix-It (De Niro) is brought in to manage
REAL LIFE: Mr. Political Fix-It (Jordan) is accused of being
part of scandal.
MOVIE: President makes it through crisis to happy ending.
REAL LIFE: Well, this ain't Hollywood.
Giving A name To The Whole Awful Mess
A scandal is nothing 'til somebody names it, and scandals make
good TV. Upon news of the latest presidential indiscretion, the
best minds in television spent fevered hours devising the
slickest titles, graphics and theme music since Nightline's
America Held Hostage. To honor that distinguished crisis
franchise, we've awarded one to five Khomeinis to each network:
Rating: [Three Khomeinis]
Crisis in the White House is a little vague--there could be a
war, a terrorist, or somebody may have forgotten to take Buddy
for a walk. But the tight White House shot effectively evokes
tension; ABC News' theme music--do do dodo--feels a little
tired. Paging Danny Elfman!
Rating: [One Khomeini]
You'd think the network that brought you the Gulf War could do
better. Investigating is too mild a verb; it suggests a medical
checkup. The gray border is monochromatic and nondescript, like
something stamped on an official document or government-approved
Rating: [Two Khomeinis]
Would you expect anything less from Fox and Rupert Murdoch? No
mention of Clinton, no mention of Whitewater, just sex and
scandal, baby. This could be a promo for Dawson's Creek, if that
show weren't on the WB.
Rating>: [Two and a half Khomeinis]
Classy graphic includes presidential seal and nice shot of
anguished Chief Exec. But hold on, doesn't this scandal
allegedly involve oral sex? Nice music, but title loses points
for lack of originality. (See CNN.)
Rating: [Five Khomeinis]
One word: gravitas. O.K., two more: phallic symbol. Combines a
sweeping cityscape (Washington is in trouble!) with some
tabloidy heat (under fire!). No wonder this network is on the
rise, but what would Roma Downey think?
"Dad never demonstrated any fear, although my sisters and I
lived in terror he'd be killed by an assassin."
daughter of retired Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, on the
impact of the Roe v. Wade decision
"It's clear that cracking the genetic code would be of
significantly less benefit if we allow our moral code to become
cracked as well."
VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE,
proposing a federal ban on genetic discrimination in the workplace