[FOUNTAIN]Rx: Rest and good aidesFormer U.S. President Bill Clinton was one of the most successful presidents in the history of the United States; The economic boom of the 1990s was his crowning achievement. But a crisis that Mr. Clinton faced after only eight months in office was probably the biggest threat to his administration except for the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
The press and the Congress allowed the former governor of Arkansas, one of the most rustic areas in the United States, no honeymoon.
Like President Roh Moo-hyun, Mr. Clinton had a limited political base. Mr. Clinton’s Democratic Party had lost 10 seats in the congressional election of 1992, the year Mr. Clinton was first elected, and the party also lost two special elections to fill vacant seats in the U.S. Senate the following year. Indeed, Mr. Clinton may have been elected only because the voters disliked him less than they disliked the incumbent President George Bush.
Mr. Clinton, furthermore, made no effort to consolidate his base in the mainstream of his party. He received little in the way of support from his party, and that was part of the reason for his early missteps.
Major newspapers and broadcasters were dubious about Mr. Clinton’s capabilities and had always been critical of him. Newspapers denounced the young aides that Mr. Clinton brought to the White House, saying they were nothing but factional dwarfs. That was similar to the situation facing Mr. Roh when he was elected. The Roh administration is under fire as being a left-wing group led by aides in their 30s.
David Gergen, who joined as a White House adviser at the time when Mr. Clinton was in trouble, said that Mr. Clinton was lethargic, distracted, impatient, tired and unable to make good judgments.
Mr. Clinton got out of that slump and his presidency began to roll after he took a long vacation after eight months in office. Sufficient sleep, golf and reading returned him to his original shape, smart and focused. It was around that time that Mr. Clinton moved his former campaign aides to the rear and began to rely on Mr. Gergen, a Republican, who was familiar with Washington politics.
The world seems to be against Mr. Roh right now. He may need a vacation to carefully watch what the world is doing. If he can find some seasoned aides, then that’s icing on the cake.
by Chun Young-gi
The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.