Counting the Hours

Counting the Hours

Counting the Hours

What the foreign papers are saying.
Sept. 12 1998 3:30 AM

Counting the Hours

GET "INTERNATIONAL PAPERS" BY E-MAIL!

Advertisement

For Tuesday and Saturday morning delivery of this column, plus "Today's Papers" (daily), "Pundit Central" (Monday morning), and "Summary Judgment" (Wednesday morning), click here.

The pocket cartoon on the front page of London's Daily Telegraph Thursday showed a little boy on his father's knee learning about Monicagate. "And if the daddy bee is caught with a lady bee who isn't the mummy bee, then the daddy bee might have to resign as President of the United States," said Dad. The resignation or impeachment of the president now seems taken for granted in much of the European press.

The scandal story got more attention in Europe than in other parts of the world, and much more in Britain than in other parts of Europe. Rupert Murdoch's British tabloid, the Sun (circulation 4 million), carried a massive front-page headline, "Clinton: The Last Hours," and an editorial saying about the White House "soap opera," "The world knows how the plot will end, and there are few episodes left." But the Sun added that "for all the personal shame of Clinton, America can hold its head high. The land of the free has upheld the finest democratic traditions."

The political cartoonist of the Times of London showed the American eagle stealing the arrows off the presidential seal and defecating on Clinton's head as it flew away. The Financial Times ran an editorial titled "The Indignity of It All," blaming the president fully for his misfortunes. "His words are weasel ones, his actions based forever on political expediency," it said. "He still appears to think that the affair is a right-wing conspiracy, and he cannot see what he did wrong."

Advertisement

The conservative Daily Telegraph ran a two page scandal chronology compiled by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, who, as its Washington correspondent, began investigating Clinton in 1993 and, according to the paper, was "vilified by the White House aides" as a result. "Once the members of the judiciary committee have examined the text [of the Starr report], in all its shocking and prurient detail," Evans-Pritchard wrote, "they will acknowledge that the President is a borderline sociopath who must be removed at once." In an editorial, the Telegraph described the president as sitting "in a political wheelchair." "He may beat his breast. He may blacken his opponents. His charm and theatrical abilities may see him through for a bit longer, but it is, sadly, to no purpose. He cannot save himself; he can only degrade his office further."

Le Monde of Paris restricted its editorializing Thursday to publishing on its front page, under the rubric "Point of View," the full text of Sen. Joseph Lieberman's speech to the Senate Sept. 3. Clinton didn't make the front page of Le Figaro, the conservative Paris daily, but led the foreign news section under the headline "Clinton Paralyzed and Demoralized." The paper also ran a short and unoriginal comment on the dilemmas facing Al Gore as he comes daily closer to fulfilling his presidential ambitions.

In Italy, the story of the delivery of the Starr report was touched upon only briefly on the front pages but was covered extensively on the foreign pages. La Stampa of Turin ran a comment by Gabriele Romagnoli, who asked why nobody has asked Clinton the most important question: "Mr. President, who the devil ordered the bombing of Sudan and why?"

In Asia, which is preoccupied with its own problems, and in Australia, which has its mind on elections, the fate of the U.S. presidency did not dominate the news, though the Sydney Morning Herald ran a report Friday, headlined "Lame duck looks like a dying duck," from its Washington correspondent, Jennifer Hewett. "Mr. Clinton is in for the fight of his life just to remain in a much-diminished Oval Office," she wrote. In Israel, Ha'aretz led its front page Thursday not with Clinton's troubles but with the news that U.S. special Middle East peace envoy Dennis Ross, currently in Jerusalem, is hoping to draft a new Israeli pullback package before the end of this week.

Earlier this week, the Pakistani paper Dawn ran an editorial about reports that Pakistani poppy growers are planning to recultivate opium on a bigger scale because they haven't received promised compensation for switching to other crops. "The authorities must take the challenge of crop substitution seriously," it said.