INAUGURAL JOURNAL: Republicans Console Themselves That Nothing is Forever With AM-Inaugural
INAUGURAL JOURNAL: Republicans Console Themselves That Nothing is Forever With AM-Inaugural Rdp, Bjt
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Republicans, they’ll tell you themselves, are finding this a good week to rediscover their families, catch up on work or get out of town.
Anything, so they don’t have to watch Bill Clinton barnstorm the capital he’s about to inherit.
Looking back to the glory days is ″psychologically debilitating,″ said one. But looking ahead isn’t much fun, either, and the present is less than electrifying. Try tedious.
Not that Republicans bear the new president any ill will, or so they say. But excommunication from the power circle is nothing to celebrate.
Yes, there will be several hundred Republicans at a $75-per-person counterinaugural ball Wednesday night across the river in Alexandria, Va. But they’ll be celebrating the prospect of returning to power, not the recent unpleasantness.
″We’re not closed out forever. We’ve got another shot in 1996,″ said Tessie Wilson, coordinator of the GOP event.
Some conservatives are already angling for favor with the new Democratic administration. The Heritage Foundation last month released a paper advising Clinton on how to cut the federal bureaucracy. And feisty talk-show host John McLaughlin scheduled a reception Tuesday night for a mixture of outgoing and incoming big shots.
With an eye on future guests for his ″One-on-One″ televised interview show, McLaughlin got acceptances from five new Democratic hotshots - including two Cabinet secretaries-to-be and Clinton’s chief of staff.
The only big-name Bush Republican was trade representative Carla Hills. But spokesman Steve Tuemmler said there were ″quite a number of Republicans from Congress″ who were happy to accept the invitation to celebrate.
Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., called his party’s attempts at festivity ″a little infantile″ and said his only inaugural outing would be a congressional leadership lunch with the new president immediately after the swearing-in.
Hyde, however, was pressed into service Tuesday to greet the marching band from Hillary Rodham Clinton’s high school. They hail from his suburban Chicago district.
All in a day’s constituent work, Hyde said good-naturedly, and suggested the transition to a new president was equally routine.
″This isn’t the end of the world,″ he said. ″Bush lost the election. It’s time for another team. This is what the Republicans are so interested in: term limits. We sure got them.″
For some Republicans, the pain of defeat was tempered by the intuition months ago that the Bush campaign wasn’t going well. They are ready to get on with their lives.
″I had a great four years, and four years was plenty. I didn’t yearn to keep my office for another four years or keep my parking space or mess privileges,″ said Bill Kristol, who was Vice President Dan Quayle’s chief of staff. ″You can’t live looking in the rear-view mirror, yearning for the good old days when you were in the White House. That is psychologically debilitating.″
Kristol, Hyde and others were trying to reconcile the conflicting tugs of partisanship and citizenship as they awaited the formal end of the GOP’s dozen-year reign. Most planned to watch the formal inauguration on TV.
″I hate to see the other party come into the White House,″ said Gary Bauer, a veteran of the Reagan administration. ″But the peaceful transfer of power that this country routinely does is historically significant enough that my kids ought to witness it and understand why it’s a special thing.″
William Bennett, who was education secretary and drug czar in the Reagan administration, had no such viewing plans.
By ″happy coincidence,″ he said, he was invited to address a business group in Atlanta on just the day he was trying to find a reason to be gone. He left Tuesday and wasn’t due back until Wednesday night.
Bennett’s avoidance syndrome has been full-blown since Monday, when he tuned his office radio to rock-and-roll oldies rather than follow Clinton’s televised adventures around town. ″It’s a free country,″ he said. ″I don’t have to listen to him.″