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NO TRIAL FOR COMMANDER IN CHIEF? `OH, HO, HO,' EX-BRASS SPUTTER

SMART, CLEVER, inspired, acute, astute and shrewd.

That's Bill Clinton, maybe - from a legal perspective.Stupid, silly, idiotic, asinine and vacuous.

That could be the president, too - politically.

Clinton's claiming in legal papers that his sexual harassment trial should be postponed, because as "commander in chief" he is on active duty in the military, brings oaths from old rankers and sputterings from antique brass.

"Bizarre" is what Daniel Ludwig, national commander of The American Legion, called Clinton's active duty claim. "We've had plenty of great Americans take off a military uniform to assume the presidency. None has ever put on a uniform after Inauguration Day."

"Objectionable" was the word for it from Paul Sperra, head of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. "The president does not serve on active duty, nor does he wear a uniform. He is a civilian commander in chief."

"Oh, ho, ho" was a uniform comment at the Army Navy Club in downtown Washington, D.C., where most members queried abruptly discovered they had nothing further to say.

"What was that?" demanded an elderly gentleman, who was either a cynic or retired artillery. He stomped off without another word, shaking his head, deaf or disbelieving.

Sure as soldiers cuss, Clinton's position bemuses his, ah, colleagues in arms.

"Not relevant," snapped a man who introduced himself as "Retired. Colonel. Tom Brown. My real name."

Col. Brown looked out the club's polished brass and glass doors and pointed to the park across the street.

"If I go over there and molest that girl on that bench, the government will release me from service for prosecution. I'll be charged as a civilian. It (the Clinton brief) demonstrates a lack of understanding of what happens under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. See what happened with those three who raped the girl in Okinawa."

Retired Lt. Col. Thomas Fox, who signed up as an enlisted man in 1941 and finished service in the Pentagon in 1962, first said, "Oh, ho, ho." Upon further reflection, he concluded, "Inconsistent."