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INDECISIVENESS COULD PUT CLINTON BACK IN ARKANSAS AFTER 1 TERM

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Bob Woodward, the Washington Post reporter of Watergate fame, has yanked the curtain open on Bill Clinton's erratic presidency.

While the president was in Europe, Washington was abuzz over Woodward's latest book, "The Agenda," a look at Clinton's first 18 months in the White House. This book ignores the Whitewater affair and all the other alleged affairs in Arkansas and focuses on the style and substance of his presidency.If Clinton becomes a one-term president, it will not be because of the allegations of personal scandal. It will be because of the far more troubling character of his presidency. The most damaging material in the book comes from Clinton's own aides, some of whom must be feeling a tad insecure these days.

Woodward portrays Clinton as volatile, fickle, indecisive and given to agreeing with the last person he talks to. All of which, the author concludes, makes for a chaotic White House where policy decisions are driven by poll numbers, overwhelmed aides are at each other's backs and decisionmaking is in disarray.

None of this should come as news to anyone who paid even the slightest attention to Clinton's record as governor of Arkansas. It was all there. His political enemies said Clinton's word was about as worthless as Confederate money. He was forever temporizing and compromising and contradicting himself.

The book's most interesting revelation is how this White House became obsessed with the bond market, which seems to thrive on bad news, in charting economic policy. Stroking the bond market was seen as the key to economic growth, and the irony of a Democratic president paying more attention to Wall Street than most Republican administrations drove some Clinton aides bonkers.

Clinton's aides do more damage to him than any Republican could ever do with cheap partisan attacks.

George Stephanopoulos, the young senior aide who bears the brunt of Clinton's temper tantrums, "sometimes thought his primary function was to get yelled at first thing in the morning." The book says Stephanopoulos now shrugs off Clinton's outbursts, saying the president's words "really don't matter." He is quoted as telling budget director Leon Panetta, "The worst thing about him is that he never makes a decision."

Hillary Rodham Clinton is portrayed by Woodward as the strongest force behind the president. She is the one to whom administration officials turn when a decision seems stalled in the Oval Office. She is the one who is always urging the president to fight. She emerges in the book as the closest thing we've had to a co-president.

The biggest danger to Clinton's presidency is that unless he takes control of his administration and delivers on some major campaign promises, ordinary Americans who will never read "The Agenda" will eventually discover what Woodward did.