British Press Predicts Clinton
& Saddam Doomed - But
Who'll be First?
LONDON (Agence France-Press) - According to Saturday's British press, U.S. President Clinton and Iraqi leaders have one thing in common as they face off in the Gulf: They're both doomed. The only question is who'll go first.
Clinton faces a vote in Congress that will likely lead to an impeachment trial in the Senate on two counts of perjury and one each of obstruction of justice and abuse of power.
Saddam, meanwhile, has seen his country hit by three straight days of US and British air strikes for refusing to live up to his promises to cooperate with UN weapons inspectors.
All the British press struggled to keep the two stories apart. In the end, most gave in.
The mass-selling conservative tabloid Sun and the left-leaning Guardian, for instance, chose almost identical headlines.
"Doomed", screamed the Sun on its front page between pictures of the two leaders. "But who'll be finished off first?"
"Two presidents in peril - but which one will be toppled first?" asked the Guardian.
The Sun put its money on the Iraqi dictator outlasting Clinton.
Its editorial insisted it was "time for the liars to go". Clinton was too discredited to hang on if Congress voted for impeachment.
"It would be a supreme irony if he were to be out of office while Saddam remained in power," the paper added. "But it is a price Clinton must pay for betraying America."
The Daily Mail also lumped impeachment and Gulf crisis together. "As Slick Willie parties, bombing goes on," read its headline, next to a picture of the president and Hillary Clinton at a White House party.
It said the "squalid and surreal" spectacle in Washington was undermining Operation Desert Fox against Iraq, although it criticized Clinton for causing his own problems.
Few papers could avoid putting both stories, Gulf crisis and impeachment, on their front page.
The media mood remained largely in favor of military action against Iraq. One of the staunchest, the Daily Telegraph, regretted only that British Prime Minister Tony Blair would be tainted by his close ties with Clinton.
Its editorial said the U.S. president "has compromised Western policy in the Gulf by associating it with his own disgrace.
"The one comfort is that Mr. Clinton's knavery has done him no good."
The Daily Express also believed impeachment was casting a cloud over Iraq. It urged a return to priorities: crippling Saddam's regime and ensuring there was a clear strategy for dealing with the aftermath.
"This is no time for gung-ho language and military machismo and neither is it time for impeaching the American commander-in-chief."
Clinton won more vociferous backing from the Mirror tabloid. "What went on in Washington was a scandalous blot on American democracy," it stormed.
The paper said trying to impeach Clinton now was "treachery".
"Bill Clinton has little to be proud of about how he behaved over Monica Lewinsky. But the shameful behavior of his rightwing persecutors dwarfs his misdeeds."
The Times focussed its editorial on how Blair should persuade the country that launching air strikes on Iraq was right and why it was backing the United States.
It suggested he make his first nationwide broadcast this weekend to press the case for attacks.