PARTISAN gridlock in Washington sometimes leaves citizens with a helpless feeling that leadership is no longer possible.
Nonsense. There are still many moments when a single leader can, to use this era's cloying cliche, make a difference.
Here, we address in memo form two examples where action is needed within days:
To: Majority leader Dole
Re: Preventing chemical war
We salute you and John McCain - the two senators who arguably have suffered the most for your country in combat - for having the courage to support sending United States troops to risky peacekeeping duty in Bosnia.
Now, it's within your power as Senate majority leader to help protect future American troops from a potentially greater risk. We refer to US ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
To do so you will have to take the unusual step of overruling your foreign relations committee chairman, Jesse Helms. As you know, he is - against American interests - obstructing a ratification vote that a majority of his committee, a majority of Republicans, and a strong bipartisan majority of senators favor.
The treaty was negotiated under President Reagan and signed by President Bush. It is supported by almost all defense specialists, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of the CIA.
The easy way to grasp the treaty's effect is to say that 9/10ths of a loaf is better than none. It bans development, production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons. Yes, as Mr. Helms argues, it is possible for some lab somewhere to work on chemical weapons. But sensing technology for detection is vastly improved. And if the Senate doesn't ratify the treaty and it goes into effect anyway because of overwhelming ratifications elsewhere, US chemical firms will be legally penalized in their global trade.
You owe it to future American soldiers to push this treaty past Helms.
To: President Clinton
Re: A veto NOT to cast
Two groups of big financial contributors are vying for your ear: class-action lawyers and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. Subject: a bill passed by both houses to limit the amounts, and the techniques, lawyers can command in certain cases involving stock-price fluctuations. California high-tech entrepreneurs have been hard hit by what might be called stock-quote chasers.
The lawyers in question have tried to assume the stripes of a different animal: fraud- busters. They claim the legislation would hurt small investors injured by securities fraud.
Not so. There are plenty of laws still on the books to deal with stock fraud. What the bill in question does is limit frivolous class-action suits over mere stock-price fluctuations that abound in the market, particularly for entrepreneurial start-ups. That clips the wings of lawyers gaining millions for themselves and small change for stockholders. We know you favor a competitive America growing in new-tech fields. So, don't veto.
Two instances where individuals - Bob Dole and Bill Clinton - can make a big difference.