Post-Paula Clinton should focus agenda

It’s no wonder that President Clinton reacted to a judge’s dismissal of Paula Jones’ sexual harassment suit by assuming it was an April Fool’s Day joke. In recent months, Clinton faced ever-increasing accusations of sexual impropriety. U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright’s dismissal of the Jones case, however, was important in allowing the president to shift his, and the public’s, focus back to the real issues of the presidency. “It removes whatever obstacle this case would have been to my giving everything to this job for the next two years. Every hour, every minute I spend diverted on these questions is disserving the American people,” Clinton said. He’s right. It is time for the president to narrow his domestic agenda and return to the duties for which he was elected.
With Congress on a two-week recess, Clinton has the Washington spotlight all to himself, a situation he is wisely using to his advantage. As eager as the president may be, however, he has been overzealous in resuming his work. By the end of the week, Clinton is expected to address crime, Social Security, educational standards, tobacco use and school safety. Although there are a number of items that demand Clinton’s attention, he should not try to tackle every major domestic problem this week, or even this month. Each of these issues affects millions of lives and deserves thoughtful, rather than fleeting, attention.
Clinton needs to continue focusing on Social Security. Earlier this week, he went to the first regional conference on the topic in Kansas City, Mo. There he unveiled the most specific Social Security plan he’s had to date. Clinton offered private partnerships rather than the full privatization that conservatives and libertarians advocate. But still this compromise shows how Clinton might actually get a major policy passed during his presidency at a time when he often disagrees with the Republican-controlled Congress. With Congress on vacation, Clinton has the chance to get his message across with few critics.
In the wake of the Jonesboro, Ark., killings, gun control must also be a top priority. Clinton’s video address expressing his condolences to the people of Jonesboro should not be the end of his political efforts in this matter. His ban of the import of military weapons Monday is a step in the right direction, but Clinton needs to mount a campaign to make guns inaccessible to children.
With the Paula Jones case now a thing of the past, some of the country’s attention has turned away from the president. This is a critical time in Clinton’s political life, and all eyes should refocus on his performance. Judge Wright’s dismissal of the case was, without question, in the best interest of the country. Although possible impeachment proceedings and independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s continued investigation still hang over Clinton’s head, the country can breathe a collective — yet guarded — sigh of relief. Clinton’s private behavior will be a part of his legacy. But with 34 months left in his presidency, Clinton has the chance to redeem his political self. Clinton can accomplish some important things in the few months he has left, but trying to do everything is overwhelming.