More GOP Moderates Waffle

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WASHINGTON: The stampede that just last week sealed President Clinton’s impeachment is now headed in the other direction. CNN reports that at least a dozen more GOP moderates hold views similar to those of the four representatives who Tuesday asked Trent Lott to ignore that bit in the articles about “removal from office.” But TIME congressional correspondent James Carney says that hopes for a pre-trial censure deal will run up against the same brick wall that quashed a compromise in the House: Republican leaders in thrall to the far right. “Trent Lott can’t be seen to be doing Clinton any favors,” he said. “The conservatives got Lott where he is, and short-circuiting a trial would be seen as a betrayal.”

Special ReportBetrayal of whom? Web journalists, at least anecdotally, know them well: They are the Clinton hunters. At the other end of the President’s gravity-defying approval numbers is a band of perhaps 25 percent of Americans who firmly believe Clinton is a career criminal who should have been impeached and removed long ago. But when the New York Times went looking for this steel-jawed minority, it also found Clinton’s worst fear: a subset of those job-approval groupies that nevertheless finds the scandal -- and the President himself -- a wearisome embarrassment and wants him to resign. They may never see that day. But come February, a combination of the the virulent and the merely nauseated could provide Republicans with the coalition they’ve been waiting for.