Clinton's Irish Solution Reflects Own Troubles

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WASHINGTON: President Clinton had an intriguing idea for both sides of the Irish peace process gathered at the White House Tuesday night: "I almost wish I could give them a perfectly harmless three-day cold, which would require them all to be quarantined in the Green Room," he said. At least then, he joked, they'd be forced to get together and resolve their differences. The suggestion was not lost on those senators in the audience who have their own reasons for wishing that Bill would start sneezing next time he comes up to the Hill.

Said Trent Lott: "This time a year ago, we were talking pretty regularly about budget and taxes, and I thought it was, you know, kind of strange to get a letter on Saturday on my fax machine at home." He was referring to the President's correspondence on the NATO expansion bill -- which in previous times, Clinton may well have pushed in person. "It seems like there is less contact from the President," added Lott. That may be the case, but it's not surprising at a time when Newt Gingrich -- the host of a St. Patrick's Day luncheon for the President -- is mulling publicly over which committee would handle impeachment proceedings. If Clinton and Congress caught a cold right now, it's anyone's guess whether he would still be in office at the end of quarantine.