With So Many Leaks, How Does Clinton Stay Afloat?

HOW does a president-elect announce his Cabinet selections? If he called a press conference and simply read the names - which seems to be the obvious method - he couldn't be sure that his selections would be well-received.

To avoid that pitfall, President-elect Clinton has chosen the time-honored method of making important decisions: by leaking the names of appointees to the New York Times and the Washington Post - the bulletin-boards of the inside-the-Beltway crowd. That way, the president-elect can send up "trial balloons," gauging the popularity of his nominees and, at the same time, massaging the egos of interest groups that want to be represented in his Cabinet.

The process, in full swing for at least a week, shows no sign of letting up soon. As Mr. Clinton traveled to Washington yesterday, aides leaked another group of names for his economic policy team to go along with Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D) of Texas, who will presumably become Treasury secretary. Rep. Leon Panetta (D) of Calif., who is currently chairman of the House Budget Committee, appears set to become budget director. The grapevine has Robert Rubin, co-chairman of Goldman, Sachs & Co., getting the job of

economic security adviser and Roger Altman, another investment banker, becoming deputy treasury secretary. Robert Reich, a lecturer at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, is also likely to get a top job, perhaps chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

Of course, all these prospective appointees are white males. That presents a problem for Clinton, who has committed himself to making his Cabinet "representative" of America. So Clinton aides, concerned lest they alienate feminist supporters, have scrambled to leak some women's names for other top jobs. Among the names put forward: Madeleine Kunin, a former governor of Vermont, as head of the Environmental Protection Agency; Donna Shalala, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin, as secretary of educat ion or commerce; Rep. Jill Long (D) of Indiana as secretary of agriculture; and for US Trade Representative, either Paula Stern, a consultant who once headed the International Trade Commission, or Laura D'Andrea Tyson from the University of California, Berkeley. Just call it the `Clinton recovery'

Although Clinton has rushed to appoint his economic policy team, it may have less work than anticipated. The economy, which doggedly refused to pick up before the Nov. 3 election, is finally becoming robust. Growth is up, unemployment is down, department stores are seeing brisk Christmas sales. This gusher of good news may leave Clinton the luxury of concentrating on deficit-reduction instead of on an economic stimulus program. That presents both problems and opportunities for the president-elect. On the

positive side, he will take office amid a general feeling of well-being in the country. The flip side of the ledger is that his welcome might soon dissipate if he takes tough measures to slash federal spending, which has been driving up the deficit for a decade. Ho-hum. Another celebrity reception

It's easy to see why President Bush wanted to stay in the White House for another four years: being president does have some nice perks. One of those is hobnobbing with the recipients of the annual Kennedy Center honors. At a reception in the East Room of the White House on Sunday night, President Bush hosted dancer Ginger Rogers, conductor Mstislav Rostropovich, jazz musician Lionel Hampton, choreographer Paul Taylor, and actors Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. And who says being president is all crisis -management? Call him `Mr. President'

What name will Clinton use when he is sworn in as president on Jan. 20? He was born William Jefferson Blythe IV. But after his father died and his mother remarried, he changed his name at age 15 to William Jefferson Clinton. However, it is years since anyone in Arkansas remembers their governor being referred to as anything other than "Bill Clinton." He signs bills with that name, and also used it when he was sworn in as governor. So, in roughly a month, expect to hear "I, Bill Clinton, do...."

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