How the White House Got Smoked

  • Share
  • Read Later
WASHINGTON: The crib death of John McCain’s $568 billion antitobacco legislation has left the White House facing both financial and political poverty for the rest of the year, says TIME White House correspondent Jay Branegan. "Not only was Clinton banking heavily on the revenues from the Senate antitobacco legislation as a way to fund some programs that are very important to him," Branegan says, "but he’s out of political capital as well."

The bill was a White House dream: It struck a blow for teen smoking, made nice with the soccer moms, and also paid for about $10 billion of extra goodies in Clinton’s 1998 budget. It was a win-win that turned, with a bang of Trent Lott’s gavel, into a lose-lose. And although Newt Gingrich is suddenly making noises about antitobacco in the House, you can bet that whatever emerges from the Republican leadership will be carefully crafted to give Clinton neither money nor plaudits enough to sustain the appearance of second-term activism that Clinton so desperately wants. "All he’s got left is the China trip," says Branegan. It doesn’t get any more no-win than that.