Washington returns to life after Monica

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The Independent Online
FROM THE President to the politicians to the media, it was back to something like normal this weekend, as everyone tried to put the year- long drama of impeachment behind them.

For the first time in months, the White House sex scandal and its aftermath shared the headlines - with talks over Kosovo, disruption from an airline strike, and local news.

After attending church - as he has done most Sundays through the crisis - the President left for Mexico on a visit that had been rescheduled so he did not appear to be fleeing the Senate verdict. The White House gave an account of his weekend activities (dinner with his wife, reading in preparation for Mexico) designed to give the impression of quiet normality and no rejoicing at Friday's acquittal.

Mrs Clinton was said to be deciding whether she should run for the New York Senate seat being vacated by Pat Moynihan.

Mr Moynihan - said to be impatient for her to make up her mind and not regarded as one of her biggest fans - said that if she decided to run, she would win. The White House chief of staff, John Podesta, concurred, telling a television talk show yesterday: "I think that if she does run, she'll win, and if she wins, she'll make a great United States senator."

With a few notable exceptions, the politicians left town within hours of the Senate verdict - senators, professing themselves tired and keen to see their families again, Representatives intent on putting distance between the year of scandal and the legislative business of the year that awaits. Today's Presidents Day holiday, with its week-long congressional recess and the school half-term week that follows, have given everyone an opportunity to make for the ski slopes or beaches - and they have done just that.

Even the residual echoes of the Monica Lewinsky case were - probably only temporarily - tuned out. Staff at the Office of the Independent Counsel, Kenneth Starr, were said to be divided about whether to indict Mr Clinton on perjury or obstruction of justice charges while he was still in office, or even afterwards.

n John Kasich, a tax-cutting Ohio Republican, who chairs the House Budget Committee, said that he would embark today on the first stage of a run for the presidency. Mr Kasich, 46, a convincing public speaker who projects himself as the voice of the ordinary American, has kept himself on the sidelines of the Clinton impeachment battle.