Top Cabinet Officials Resign

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WASHINGTON: Five high-level members of the Clinton Administration will resign as the President prepares for his second term. Secretary of State Warren Christopher, Defense Secretary William Perry and Chief of Staff Leon Panetta are all leaving voluntarily. Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary, whose expensive jaunts overseas and hiring of investigators to monitor reporters have made her an albatross, was given a clear message to pack her bags, according to the Associated Press. She is expected to announce her decision publicly within the next few days. Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor, who replaced the late Ron Brown earlier this year, has offered his resignation as well, possibly as a move toward getting a better cabinet post. Sources have told TIME that Kantor would like to be chief of staff or Attorney General. Christopher was the first to offer his resignation, informing Clinton Tuesday night in Arkansas that he would leave. By all accounts, the President continues to support Christopher, but the 71-year-old has been worn out after keeping a punishing schedule during his four years in the post. Perry took the job in Defense reluctantly when Les Aspin, Clinton's first choice for the post, fell ill. He reportedly will stay in place until a successor is named. It's likely that more departures are in the works. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, a former Harvard professor, has been commuting from his home in Boston for months. Secretary of Transportation Federico Pena earned demerits for going to bat for ValuJet in the days immediately after its passenger jet crashed in the Everglades, but might stay in the job if Bill Daley, brother of Chicago mayor Richard Daley, doesn't get it. The White House reportedly would like to get rid of Janet Reno, but the highly popular attorney general would be difficult to fire. In addition, Robert Rubin at Treasury and CIA Director John Deutch may be shuffled into new jobs after today's resignations.

Unfinished Business

WASHINGTON, D.C.: "Christopher's legacy is one of unfinished business," notes TIME's Dean Fischer. "He devoted much time and energy to negotiating peace in the Middle East, which remains undone. Bosnia is still a question mark, although Christopher can be credited with convincing the President to commit troops. The Administration's China policy is still a work in progress, but we can credit Christopher with injecting realism into U.S. policy with respect to China, although there is still a problem balancing human rights concerns with trade issues. As NATO expansion continues, Christopher's successor will need to execute some elegant diplomacy with the Russians, who continue to protest the alliance's plans."