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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Foreign Focus Lands Clinton In Hot Water

The latest Washington political joke has Boris Yeltsin ringing Bill Clinton from the Kremlin. "I suppose you want your $43 billion from the G-7", says Clinton.

"No, I'm calling to say I'm always here if you need some advice", says Boris. "Like how to win elections from behind, how to cope with the difficult Congress, how to outmaneuver a hostile Supreme Court, those kinds of things you're having trouble with.

"In fact, Bill, one thing I've learned in politics is that people always like a strong man. So why not just leave it all to Hillary for a while? "

Jests like this spill off the fax machines in Washington, where the Republicans have a well-honed sniping operation with jokes and unsubstantiated rumors about Hillary Clinton throwing things at her husband and other troubles in the White House.

The problem is that some of this stuff is working. Clinton is looking bruised and rather weak, unable to get his economic stimulus through the Senate. and now he is facing serious trouble with his latest $1. 8 billion aid package for Russia.

Budget Director Leon Panetta says he still hasn't figured out how to find the money, and does not see it being an easy sell in Congress. The latest scheme in the White House is to stick the Russian aid package onto the new economic stimulus bill that is now being prepared for Congress, to try and ram home the message that helping Russia is a way to help American jobs and exports.

"If I tell that to my constituents in Indiana, they'll think it's crazy. Not just hard to believe, but actually crazy", says a new Democratic congressman from Indiana, the American heartland. "Clinton got elected because George Bush was so much the foreign policy president, people thought Bush wasn't taking care of things at home, and that Clinton would focus like a laser-bream on the economy. Instead, he's focusing on Boris Yeltsin and Bosnia".

This is an increasingly common complaint from Democrats, and Clinton's new threats of military intervention in Bosnia are reviving not only the old isolationist instincts, but also that Vietnam syndrome that George Bush was supposed to have laid to rest with the Gulf War.

Of the 100 U. S. senators and 435 congressmen, no fewer than 89, close to 20 percent, served in the Vietnam War. Almost all of them are opposed to U. S. intervention in Bosnia. They are all hard to persuade of the rationale for aid to Russia, particularly when it is hard to show much evidence that Western financial support is working. If that evidence does not start to come soon, then the joke about Boris Yeltsin's friendly phone call to Bill Clinton wont be a laughing matter.