Clinton's Doldrums

PRESIDENT Clinton's approval ratings continue to sag as he nears his 200th day in office.

To many voters, there is little more to show in the way of accomplishment now than at the end of the "first 100 days." Recent polls indicate that Americans are dissatisfied and apprehensive about what is ahead. A recent Associated Press poll indicated that people are losing confidence in the president and his administration, and while 55 percent of Americans polled just after the presidential election indicated more confidence in Mr. Clinton than in Congress, that figure has fallen to 39 percent.

Destructive weather in the Midwest, recalcitrant Republicans (along with some Democrats) in Washington, and controversy over the right of homosexuals to serve in the military don't exactly constitute the best circumstances for pushing new policies.

But the president has no alternatives: He has to rally the electorate that put him in office last November.

The commander-in-chief's strategy for handling the question of the right of homosexuals to serve in the military was endorsed by military leaders, with whatever private reservations or doubts they might have kept to themselves. But there are signs that many in the gay community are not satisfied.

There are still 40 months on the administration's political calendar - plenty of time to rally the American public's support and put the president's agenda, adjusted to political realities that Clinton now understands much better, back on track.

But above all else, the White House has to get the spotlight off the appointments and gays-in-military sideshows and put full glare on the president's campaign to restore public confidence in his domestic and foreign leadership.

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