The press bears a heavy burden of responsibility in the crisis now engulfing the White House. It is imperative that we not get ahead of ourselves and that we avoid a speculative rush to judgment … Oh, what the hell. Let’s speculate! Suppose Clinton resigns next week, and Gore becomes president. If Chatterbox reads the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution correctly, that means Gore can only run for the presidency once, in 2000. (The 22nd Amendment says you can only be elected president twice, and if you serve more than two years of a term “to which some other person was elected” you can only be elected once.) If Gore wants to maximize his potential years in the presidency, Clinton has to hang on until at least Jan. 21, 1999, so Gore can serve less than two years of Clinton’s term and then two full terms of his own … Of course, if Clinton drags it out for another year and then quits, he’ll probably be so unpopular that he’ll pull Gore down with him. And he’ll deprive Gore of a crucial year in which to build his own record of accomplishment.
Memo to Martin Peretz, owner of the New Republic: You’ve enthusiastically supported the ambitions of Gore, your former student–you’ve said confidently that you intend to own the magazine until “the end of Al Gore’s second term” as president. You even sacked your magazine’s editor, Michael Kelly, at least in part because, in his “obsessive” (your term) attacks on the character of the Clinton administration, Kelly … how to put it … failed to completely appreciate Gore’s virtues. If you’ve been reading the 22nd Amendment too, it must now be tempting to use your magazine to at least help prop Clinton up until the two-year deadline is past, so Gore can run twice. But if the above analysis is correct, the last thing Gore needs is for Clinton to dangle, injured, Nixon-like, for a year or two. You need to get rid of Clinton now, even if it means Gore is a one-and-a-half-term president at best. The obvious solution: Bring back Kelly! Go for the kill! … Anyway, in retrospect, hasn’t Kelly’s “obsessive” anti-Clintonism been a wee bit vindicated?