Clinton Getting Benefit of the Doubt

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WASHINGTON: That the road to hell was paved with good intentions seems to be good enough for most Americans. According to a new Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll, 64 percent of Americans approve of NATO's all-air campaign against Slobodan Milosevic and the Serbs, with 27 percent opposed. Whatever strategic bungles may have been committed as the world's sole superpower fervently pursues a Balkan despot, TIME White House correspondent Jay Branegan says that Milosevic's photogenic villainy has kept Clinton's approval ratings afloat.

"The Serb atrocities have really given Clinton a free pass," he says. "No matter their misgivings about the mishandling of the war, Americans are reading every day about railroad cars full of refugees, about mass killings and people expelled from their homes. And Americans clearly don't like atrocities." Also helping is that Europe seems as intent on helping as the United States is. "If there were protests in Europe, if they weren't taking in refugees as they are, you'd see a lot more doubts," Branegan says. But NATO is holding together, and the Kosovar refugees -- haggard, pitiable and on the front page of the newspaper -- continue to suffer.

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