Notebook: Bill Paxon Drops Out Of The Political Ring
"Nobody is packing their bags."
REAR ADMIRAL MICHAEL MULLEN, whose U.S. battle group is
stationed in the Persian Gulf
"We don't have a campaign-finance system. The loopholes are
bigger than the laws."
SENATOR FRED THOMPSON, after the Senate killed
campaign-finance-reform legislation, in the New York Times
"You're not going to figure him out...I don't think he figured
himself out...I don't know anybody who has figured him out."
RON REAGAN, on his father, Ronald Reagan, from the PBS program The American Experience
The Scoop: Paxon, Once Ambitious, Decides No Mas
(TIME, March 9) -- The problem with Republicans these days isn't so much the lack of an agenda; it's the shortfall of charismatic leaders. Last week, just as NEWT GINGRICH was signaling that he'll step down in mid-1999 to run for President, the party's rising star, BILL PAXON, announced that he was quitting electoral politics entirely. The move came as a shock both to his admirers and detractors, of which there were many, because of his efforts to overthrow Gingrich last year.
Paxon had long been contemplating a move up, not out. As of early February he had decided to challenge Gingrich's No. 2, majority leader DICK ARMEY; a victory would have made Paxon the Speaker apparent. But late on Feb. 20, as he sat at home with his 21-month-old daughter and dialed potential supporters, Paxon lost his will. Whether he realized that running would be very hard on his family, as he said later, or he saw that his race against Armey would be nasty and not necessarily successful, he wanted none of it. The next day, his face drawn with exhaustion, he stood before his wife, ex-Representative SUSAN MOLINARI, and said, "I can't do this, I can't do this, I can't do this." House Republicans met the news with gasps. "We're saddened," claimed Gingrich, who had begged Paxon not to challenge Armey but was stunned by the decision. "I understand how much public life costs."
--By James Carney/Washington
Clash Of The Titans
Gates Rehearses His Smile for His D.C. Debut
This week, the $40 billion man, BILL GATES, will testify for the first time before Congress. Appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee to address Microsoft's allegedly anticompetitive practices, Gates will try to bury the impression that he disdains the "other" Washington and its institutions. To help mask his well-known contempt, Gates, who has complained that committee chairman ORRIN HATCH has targeted him, has been rehearsing his testimony in front of a "murder board" of advisers. Gates will also subject himself to a day of glad handing, pleading the company's case in one-on-one meetings with Senators, including majority leader TRENT LOTT.
Gates will be joined at the witness table by archrival CEOs JIM BARKSDALE of Netscape and SCOTT MCNEALY of Sun. But Gates won't face a stacked deck: he persuaded Hatch to have Microsoft-friendly witnesses balance out the panel. Gates will be escorted to the hearing by Senator SLADE GORTON of Washington State, who wants Hatch to be nice to his famous constituent. It's a favor Gorton can return: he's chairman of the subcommittee that controls Interior spending, which affects many of Hatch's Utah constituents.
--By John F. Dickerson and Bruce van Voorst/Washington