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    Q&A With Bob Levey

    Good afternoon and welcome to "Levey Live." I'm Washington Post columnist Bob Levey, your host. "Levey Live" appears each Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m. Eastern time. It's your chance to talk directly to leading newsmakers and key Washington Post reporters and editors.

    Bob Levey
    Bob Levey
    Todd Cross/TWP
    Today, Bob Levey is on vacation in California. But his brain is clear, his coffee cup is full and his pulse is steady. So today's "Levey Live" will be an "anything goes" version. As Bob camps in his lounge chair beside the blue Pacific, he will answer your questions and respond to your thoughts on whatever subjects you care to introduce. Even "agenda" questions about Washington are welcome.

    You may submit your questions now.

    Centreville, VA: Hey, Bob! Hope you're enjoying your vacation! How is it going?

    Bob Levey: How's it going? The best answer is that I'm sitting here nursing my third cup of coffee, watching the smog rise over the San Gabriel Mountains, and feeling deliciously rejuvenated. The fact that I am 3,000 miles away from Monica Lewinsky and Wall Street, may have as much to do with that feeling as anything else.

    San Diego, California: Do you think Clinton will
    discuss the real reasons
    for the financial crisis
    with Yeltsin? I mean corruption and financial
    manipulation at the top
    of Russian Government!
    It is rumoured that even
    Yeltsin has hundreds of
    millions in Swiss bank

    Bob Levey: It's hard for me to imagine Clinton asking Yeltsin if he has money salted away in Switzerland. I suspect that most of their conversation will deal with personal damage control. However, even if what you say is true, I can't imagine that Yeltsin's money or Russia's possessive troubles will drive Wall Street down for very long. I was in Northern California on Sunday and just one block of high tech business in Silicon Valley looks to me as if it would dwarf any Swiss bank account any day.

    Laurel, MD: Mr. Levey,

    I enjoy the August "Levey Live" featuring DC Mayoral candidates. But, I have not seen one with Mr. Anthony Williams. Have you invited him? Will he participate in a on-line discussion before the September primary?

    I sure would like to know more about his stand on issues.

    Bob Levey: I sure would, too. We have invited Mr. Williams to appear on "Levey Live" approximately 4,273 times. We have not yet been able to arrive at a date. However, his people assure us that he will appear before the primary on September 15. I do have to confess that I think he is actually Greta Garbo in disguise. He is the only candidate I have ever seen that does not want more exposure.

    Myersville, MD: I think we all envy you being on the west coast away from all this! The smog can't be near as bad as what has been hanging around Washington lately.

    Bob Levey: It's interesting to me to note that in the three days I've been on the West Coast, I have read six different newspapers and Monica Lewinsky's possessive name has not appeared on the front page of any of them. The major issue in California seems to be whether President Clinton's troubles will affect the economy of the state, the return of El Nino, or the fortunes of the San Francisco 49ers. To boil it down to the essentials: California feels like a separate, sovereign nation, and it views Washington as a curious theme park, far, far to the East.

    Washington, DC: Do you think Monica Lewinsky will appear on the cover of Cigar Aficionado magazine?

    Bob Levey: If it's published in California, the answer is no. Seriously, I cringe at the thought of some of the specialty products that will emerge from this scandal. All of us who have ever taken a walk near the Washington Monument and have seen the unspeakable junk that is already sold there--dinner plates bearing the faces of Presidents--can only fasten our seat belts for what's next. I'm absolutely serious when I say that I expect souvenir cigars to be on sale on the Mall in a very short time. Perhaps those cigars will be on the cover of the magazine you mentioned.

    Washington, D.C.: As I stare at the smog that has already lifted over the corner of 18th and L NW, I have to say I'm just a little jealous...and impressed, of course, that you would rouse yourself from vacation to discuss the issues of the day.

    Although the American people (Beyond the Beltway) have appeared to take a "He done it, so what?" attitude about Clinton up to now, it seems that even his supporters are starting to decide he's a little too distasteful for them. I've been trumpeting around that he won't resign and he won't be impeached (That might create an even more difficult situation for the Republicans in 2000...), but now I'm wondering whether or not I'll have to eat my word. Any thoughts?

    Bob Levey: Lots of them. First and foremost, California may be the best place to take the nation's political temperature. According to the Los Angeles Times, which I just read at breakfast, Al Gore has visited California 36 times in the last three years, and Richard Gephardt has been here three times this summer alone. So it's clear where the votes are. It's also clear that California is deeply divided about Bill Clinton. He is a major "laugh line" here, for sure. Everywhere I go in California, when I tell people that I'm from Washington, the first thing I see is a smirk and the first thing I hear is a snicker. However, there are plenty of people in California who feel that this is a major scandal and that the country needs to take quick and firm action against Clinton. Remember, Clinton won only 51.5 percent of the vote in California in 1996--hardly a mandate.

    ARLINGTON, VA: Bob, where do you think the Redskins are headed this year?

    Bob Levey: Deep into the vat of mediocrity. My money says eight wins, eight losses. I'd love to be more optimistic, but I don't see major talent at either quarterback or running back, and if you don't score touchdowns...

    Scottsdale, AZ: Do you believe Hillary was supprised by Bill Clinton's admission on Aug. 17 ?

    Bob Levey: This is an excellent question and I go both ways on this. On the one hand, no one knows better than Mrs. Clinton how often President Clinton has strayed in the past. Therefore, it's easy to believe that she never would have been surprised by the Lewinsky charges. On the other hand, Mrs. Clinton is clearly loyal to her husband. She believes in him and she believes him. Perhaps that is a bit naive or debatable. But it may be the way she really is.

    Springfield,VA: No question, I just want to say how much I enjoy your column! Keep up the good work.

    Bob Levey: You can write me any time! Thanks very much. Because of fans like you, I might actually come home from California.

    Silver Spring,MD: Hi Bob, Please settle a bet. What is buyers remorse? Thanks Ron

    Bob Levey: Buyer's remorse is what you feel if you invested big money in the stock market five days ago.

    Levey Live: We're at the halfway mark. You may continue asking Bob Levey questions.

    Washington, DC: How can The Post honestly comment on the president when he and Ms. Graham are such good friends?

    Bob Levey: To my knowledge, Katharine Graham and Bill Clinton are merely acquaintances, not good, personal friends. Don't forget that Mrs. Graham has entertained every President since John Kennedy at her home. That alone does not imply that they are close. Nor does it suggest that Bill Clinton is getting an easy ride from The Post's editors. Every President has felt picked on by The Post; every future President no doubt will, too, regardless of dinner invitations to Mrs. Graham's home.

    Centreville, VA: What do you think is wrong with the Orioles? They seem to have lost their spark yet again. Personally, I think that there are many problems, but mainly:
    (1) Mike Mussina is still afraid of the ball. He doesn't seem to be, but if you look closely, he flinches every time the ball comes his way.
    (2) too many people getting hurt.

    Bob Levey: What's wrong with the Orioles is what's wrong with many teams in professional sports. They are paid huge salaries whether they win or not. If all of the Orioles were on incentive contracts for the lion's share of their incomes, you would see a leaner and hungrier team. As it is, there seems to be a lack of desire on this team and also a lack of leadership. Injuries have not helped either. As for Mussina, I have seen more people flinch when batting against him than I have seen Mussina flinch from batted balls.

    Ellicott City, MD: Bob,
    Is traffic in Cal as bad as in the District(nearby N.Virginia and Maryland included)?

    Bob Levey: Put it this way: Yesterday afternoon, I tried to get on the Ventura Freeway, in Burbank. One lane was out of commission for repairs. That's one lane out of twelve! And yet traffic was backed up for more miles than I could see through the smog. Sound familiar?

    Arlington, VA: Hi there Bob,
    Do you know personally or have you heard of any current and future plans the US might take not only against future acts of terroism but also against the quite likely acts of retaliation aimed at the US....

    Bob Levey: I have no knowledge of any such plans. However, the newsroom scuttlebutt is that we may all have a much tougher time getting into government buildings in the very near future. It would not surprise me to see security systems that would require us to go through more than one checkpoint in order to gain access to public buildings. A number of friends of mine who live in other countries have told me they are surprised that we have not taken such steps in the U.S. already, in light of Oklahoma City. I really have to agree. Last week, in Washington, I walked right into a major government building through a metal detector. But no person was on duty at the time. I could have been a terrorist very easily.

    Frederick, MD: Bob,

    I was just wondering how long it takes you to write your columns. Forgive my ignorance, but it just doesn't seem like an 8 hour a day job to me--are you involved in other things at the Post?

    Bob Levey: No, it does not take me eight hours a day to write a column. It takes me between one and two. However, it takes at least six other hours to get READY to write a column. There's the reporting you have to do. Then the fact-checking you have to do. And in my case, I have to be thinking about several columns at once, because I write a column every day. In case you're keeping score, my average work week is about 55 hours.

    Clinton mo: I have heard the concentric circle theory i.e. the people in Washington are angrier at the President because they are closer to the scandal. Could it be instead that the people in Washington are too close to the scandal and that their perspective in skewed and that explains the disconnect between the press and the American people?
    With friends like Dee Dee Ingrate and George Stepon old pals Clinton doesn't need any enemies.

    Bob Levey: I don't see the disconnect that you're talking about. Here in California, where you might expect to find it, I find a split of opinion on the scandals that is almost 50-50. But you could come up with the same split in Washington, D.C. I don't see how Washington is so different from the rest of the country. Remember that Congress comes from everywhere else. Therefore, Congressional opinion does not represent Washington opinion. It represents national opinion.

    Rockville,MD: The Democrats tried to derail Clarence Thomas' nomination based on alleged sexual comments and they really forced the issue to force Bob Packwood out of the Senate based on his personal conduct in the office. Now comes the truth (finally) about his immoral and unethical if not illegal relationship with a White House intern. But the standard line from the Democrats is "it is no one's business ..." Have you asked your Democrat contacts how do they reconcile such hypocrrisy? If not, why isn't the press asking this question?

    Bob Levey: I'm not aware that Democrats have all rallied to Bill Clinton's side. Quite the contrary. This is a very strange political situation. I've never seen one like it before. Neither party can attack the President, and neither can defend him. Did you ever think you would hear Newt Gingrinch say, "Let's keep our powder dry"? Yet Speaker Gingrich has led the way in urging patience, even though that might seem unlikely. I think any comparison between Clarence Thomas, Bob Packwood and Bill Clinton is a stretch. Bill Clinton is the President of the United States. That sets him apart politically, if in no other way.

    Falls Church, VA: Glad to know you're enjoying my home's a magical place. Do the folks there appear as concerned as we are about the status of life in general, or are they more ambivilent? Actually, you're not THAT far from Lewinsky - doesn't her Dad live in California?!

    Bob Levey: I was trying to count the other day, and I think this is my 45th visit to California. Every time I come here, I am struck by the same thing: People here have so much more fun, and people here are always looking to have fun. So, yes, California is a magical place. I worry that it doesn't take the rest of the world as seriously as it should. But I guess I'm just an Easterner at heart. By the way, the word in L.A. is that those celebrity bus tours of the stars' houses will soon include Monica's girlhood home in Beverly Hills as a must-see stop.

    Lynchburg, VA: Bob,
    Keeping the strong dollar in mind, it seems a bit strange that you chose California for your vacation. I think that you could have a real bargain in Europe or Japan with the current exchange rate.

    Bob Levey: California is three hours closer and, I think, much more fun. Besides, we have family and friends here who were dying to see us, and who we were dying to see--and they were kind enough to wait 20 minutes in each case to ask us about Lewinsky. I'm sure the Europeans would have pounced on us sooner.

    MC Lean Va: I thought that a professional boxer's fists were considered Lethal weapons. Why would Mike Tyson's alleged assult yesterday be considered a Misdemeanor, not a felony.

    Bob Levey: First of all, it isn't clear he used his fists in any assault, as I understand the story. Second, it is not up to the police to make a final determination as to charges. Even if the police book Tyson for a misdemeanor, a prosecutor can later bring felony charges in court.

    Levey Live: That's it for today. Be sure to join us for the next regular "Levey Live" at noon Eastern time September 8.

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