`Lyin' king' finds solace in Big Apple

Click to follow
WHEN THE GOING gets tough, you turn to your friends - and so it was yesterday for Bill Clinton.

His presidency on the brink, Mr Clinton boarded the most visible symbol of the power of his office, Air Force One, and fled the scandal-steeped hothouse of Washington for a day in the Big Apple.

No place delivers distraction like New York City, as the President found - in his seat at a gala performance of Disney's "The Lion King"; amid fat-cat Democratic donors during dinner at the Supper Club before curtain- up; even before an audience in the morning at the Council of Foreign Relations.

Never mind that the ghost of Monica still stalked him back home; this was New York, the city and the state that extricated him from Gennifer Flowers and his didn't-inhale, dope-smoking flap with a big win in the presidential primaries back in 1992.

And the view from his limo seemed good. "Save the presidency, jail Kenneth Starr" proclaimed one banner as he arrived for his foreign policy speech.

For the White House, the day was a perfect projection of a president going about business as usual. The "show", whether it is from Broadway or Pennsylvania Avenue, must "go on".

Later this week, there will be trips by the President to two cities, both likely to extend him a consoling embrace, Boston, with its crowds of Irish- Americans, and Los Angeles, home to Clinton-friendly Hollywood.

True, a few voices spoilt the welcome. St Patrick's Cathedral, just a block from his Waldorf Hotel base, was not on his schedule. Cardinal John O'Connor had asked on Sunday which "decent-minded human being could be anything but repelled by the behaviour attributed to the President?"

And on the eve of today's gubernatorial and congressional primary elections in New York, Geraldine Ferraro, the former vice-presidential candidate, eschewed the opportunity to share in Disney's Broadway magic with the head of her party. Then there was the New York Post, Rupert Murdoch's Republican-friendly tabloid, gleefully dubbing the President the "Lyin' King".

But the stars rallied in force. The actor Kevin Spacey showed up for dinner and theatre, and so did the super-model Naomi Campbell. Fears that some of the squeamish would skip the evening out did not materialise.

"Sex is sex. It happens, and it's been happening for a millions years," said John Catsimatidis, a supermarket tycoon, explaining his decision to attend. "I don't know anyone who's committed adultery who hasn't lied about it."

Market reaction, page 18