After Blumenthal, Then What?

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WASHINGTON: The Monica Lewinsky Show is bombing. Not only are American voters overwhelmingly disgusted with the Republican Senate and its handling of the Affaire Clinton, the senators themselves are starting to head for the exits. Utah Republican Robert Bennett, who didn't even bother to view the tapes of Monica's deposition himself, said Tuesday: "Based on what my staff told me, there is nothing new. If there, in fact, is nothing new, I would not expect her to be called [for live testimony]." According to a new New York Times/CBS Poll, more than two thirds of Americans didn't think even videotaped witnesses were necessary -- and more than half thought the trial was unnecessary.

Special Report Which brings us to Wednesday's question: Just what the heck was Sidney Blumenthal doing as a witness, anyway? Although his interrogator, Rep. James Rogan of California, said "I learned some new things," TIME White House correspondent Jay Branegan doubts the Clinton aide had any bombshells to drop. "Anything he said was going to be exculpatory for the President," says Branegan. And while Republican support for the easy-way-out "finding of fact" resolution seems to have picked up over the weekend, the possibility of live testimony before the Senate -- now that all three depositions have apparently landed with a thud rather than an explosion -- seems almost nil. Says Branegan: "The managers are running out of feet to shoot themselves in." One consolation for GOP 2000: The Times poll found that only 19 percent were closely following the trial. As for the cancellation date of February 12, the expected full-Senate (and public) viewing of the tapes may still push that back. But as Alaska Republican senator Frank H. Murkowski said Tuesday, "Hope springs eternal."