GOP Swallows Its Suspicions

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WASHINGTON: The rest of the GOP leadership is leaving Trent Lott alone with his accusations. Forgotten but not yet gone Speaker Newt Gingrich on Wednesday magnanimously declared Bill Clinton's war his war as well. "No one on this planet should doubt the will of the American people," he said -- and while even that statement had a curious double edge considering Clinton's ever-buoyant poll numbers, the message was clear: Now is not the time to undermine America's commander in chief.

Special ReportBut the polls, too, show the dark sliver of doubt that comes when the commander in chief needs a diversion as badly as Clinton does. A CNN/Gallup poll finds that 30 percent of Americans think Clinton's timing was cynical -- and those voices found supporters Wednesday in members such as Lott and Rep. Gerald Solomon (R-N.Y.). TIME White House correspondent Jay Branegan says that Clinton's timing is amply bolstered by both the UNSCOM report and the unanimous support of the Pentagon chiefs, who have little stake in Clinton's domestic problems. "But if any connection turns up later, that's an impeachable offense," he says. "That's abuse of power." Now that fighter and bomber pilots are set to join the fray over Baghdad, one mistake -- just one American son who doesn't come home -- could turn a lot of dark suspicions into Senate votes.