WASHINGTON: Bill Clinton's legendary ability to compartmentalize and "do the nation's business" has long been a public argument for Congress to end the impeachment process quickly. But the relentless White House claims that the scandal hasn't affected Clinton in his day job may be working all too well -- people are starting to believe it. According to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, only 45 percent of Americans think the impeachment trial, just begun, will hurt the country, down from 56 percent a month ago. In December, 56 percent were scared for the nation; now only 45 percent are.
Apathy or no apathy, Clinton isn't letting up. His State of the Union address, still on for Tuesday, will make no mention of the trial, and today the Wall Street Journal reports that the President will propose a crowd-pleasing cigarette tax of 55 cents per pack, aimed at funding $8 billion worth of military spending and social programs. The White House would love some public outrage on its side next week, when the Senate votes on whether to prolong the trial by allowing witnesses. But why should voters cry out for Clinton's freedom when he's doing so well in captivity?