On Monday of next week, for example, the President will travel to Mexico for a state visit that will enable him to showcase the fact that he remains in charge of the nation's affairs. The balance of the week will be filled with events and appearances intended to highlight his State of the Union and budget proposals. The President will enjoy an additional advantage: "Congress will be in recess," says Tumulty, "and he will have the political stage to himself." If anyone is going to be talking about impeachment next week, it will be the members of Congress when they return home to their constituents. And by the looks of things, says Tumulty, "it is some of them who may have a bit of explaining to do."
Anticipating an acquittal, the administration is quickly moving into its post-impeachment mode. Though the President is considering campaigning aggressively for a Democratic Congress in 2000 to seek some level of public vindication, the guiding principles for him and his aides for now are grace, humility and looking busy. Presidential spokesman Joe Lockhart has already declared the White House a "gloat-free" zone. "Ever since last week," says White House correspondent Karen Tumulty, "marching orders have gone out to all staffers inside the White House not to get giddy over the expected Senate acquittal of President Clinton." And that's not all. "Friends, allies and supporters on the outside have also been told to stay low." Aides expect the President to give a brief statement acknowledging the Senate action once it happens, but otherwise to keep up what he has done all along: conduct business as usual and look busy doing it.