Clinton: Defiant and Desperate

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JERUSALEM: Talk about an alternative to impeachment. President Clinton told an Israeli journalist Sunday that despite Henry Hyde’s calls for him to step down, resigning "never crossed my mind." But as fellow leaders-under-siege Clinton and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu went through the motions of peace at their low-expectation Mideast summit on Monday, House GOP leaders at home were trickling back into their offices -- and shutting down Clinton’s escape routes.

Special Report This was the day when even some of the Republicans Clinton had been counting on began to stray. Connecticut Representative Chris Shays suddenly expressed doubts about his formerly-firm "No" stance and asked for a private audience with the President. Minority Leader Dick Gephardt had this threat: Clinton-loving Americans, he said, are about to wake up and write their congressmen. But TIME congressional correspondent James Carney says that those voters are just the ones that the last Republican fence-sitters feel they can ignore. "The moderates still have to listen to their base," he says. "The pro-impeachment voices are much more passionate, even if they’re fewer in number." In Israel, Clinton declared his phone lines open for contrition on demand, but claimed the White House was done lobbying. "Now it is up to the members," he said, "to vote their conscience on the Constitution and the law." No wonder he looked so depressed.