1. There's a clear signal President Bill Clinton might give during his inaugural address. It would diminish the fears of those who voted for him, because they believed him when he promised he was going to be the agent of change.

First, Clinton could assure everyone that the bombing of Iraq will stop immediately. Second, he could order all our troops home from Somalia during the next 30 days.

And then he might add:
"Everywhere I traveled in America during the past year, I came across people holding up signs at traffic signals. They were men and women offering to work in exchange for food.

"The priority of this administration will still be to solve the problems of the American economy, to put people back to work in meaningful jobs.

"Our trouble with Iraq is over oil. We have already sacrificed enough American lives defending the rich sheiks of Kuwait. Let Britain, France, Germany and Japan carry that load for a while.

"We have done as much for Somalia with our Marines as we can right now. We can't take away all the guns without risking what could turn into a massacre. Let the other members of the United Nations pick up the torch.

"We will give all behind-the-scenes help we can for embattled Bosnia. But that is first and foremost a European problem, one they haven't bothered to solve for centuries."
@body:2. Less than a year from now, we will most certainly learn the real motives behind George Bush's irrational efforts to embroil Clinton's administration in both a war with Saddam Hussein and a mission impossible in Somalia.

The problem in Somalia was plain to Bush for years.
Bush's personal feud with Saddam is another thing. Bush associates the Gulf War with the highest point of his popularity. His final push to once again embroil himself with the dictator was nothing more than a reach for glory that has passed him by. @rule:

@body:3. Once more, the political experts sell Ross Perot short. If the Clinton administration isn't capable of giving immediate evidence of serious intent about the deficit, Perot's followers will grow at an astonishing rate.

@body:4. Judge Michael Ryan assured us all the other day that he had thought long and hard about former state senator Carolyn Walker's sentence.

If so, he wasted a lot of time. Ryan came down with the sentence everyone expected he would. He sat on the fence and played it down the middle. He took no risks. Faced with two letter-writing campaigns, one by County Attorney Rick Romley and the other by supporters of Walker, Ryan compromised.

I would have preferred he didn't take the easy way out. Walker either deserved probation or a brief jail term like former representative Sue Laybe, whose crime was identical.

Neither is a threat to society.
If he believed in AzScam, Ryan should have given both the maximum sentence, because they were public officials who betrayed their trust.

I went to Walker's sentencing thinking that it still might pose some interesting ethical questions. The courtroom was packed by Walker supporters who came much too late to influence the verdict.

Walker wore a bright yellow suit and a gardenia. She told the judge she was sorry for what she had done. Then, on the way out of court, she remarked: "The State of Arizona finally got its pound of flesh."

She was right. So was the State of Arizona. They done her wrong, but she sure made it easy for them.

@body:5. Richard Romley, our galloping county attorney, still can't quit campaigning. Last Sunday night, he appeared on Jay Lawrence's radio talk show to attempt once again to justify his sponsorship of the AzScam investigation.

"My wife and I talked about the problem," Romley said. "I saw the problem coming. I'm supposed to be a guardian of the people's rights."
Carolyn Walker will be eligible for parole in six months, and Romley said he still hasn't decided whether he will appear before the parole board to oppose her release.

He said he would meet with his staff before making any decision. What a joke. His top staff people, Paul Ahler and K.C. Scull, are a couple of sycophants who wouldn't dare disagree for fear of being transferred to an office in Mesa. In the County Attorney's Office, that's the equivalent of Siberia.

@body:6. Isn't it interesting that Romley now praises Governor J. Fife Symington III at every opportunity? Does it surprise you that the governor responds by calling Romley the finest county attorney in Arizona history?

@body:7. Charles Barkley might well end up this season as Most Valuable Player in the NBA. But there's a real danger of his becoming overexposed in the local media. There are two things he can quit doing: stop shooting three-pointers and stop talking on television.

@body:8. The Crying Game was the best film I saw last year.

@body:9. Jack Nicholson's performances in Hoffa and A Few Good Men rank with the best work he's ever turned in. These two performances are as arresting as those in Chinatown and Easy Rider.

@body:10. Dollar Bill Bidwill is a man who listens to his own drummer. Retaining tweedledum and tweedledee, otherwise known as Joe Bugel and Larry Wilson, was the one sure way Bidwill could be certain to sell even fewer season tickets for next season.

@body:11. Rush Limbaugh, the right-wing talk-show blabber, will never run out of material, because he is not embarrassed to belabor the same subjects day after day.

@body:12. Ron Brown, who seemed so gooey and charming during the presidential campaign, turns out to be the worst possible choice for a spot in Clinton's cabinet.

@body:13. I've watched the Philadelphia 76ers several times this season on television. I don't pretend to have the last word, but the Suns would be better off today if they had traded Kevin Johnson rather than Jeff Hornacek.

@body:14. Take this for what you will. I remember the story about sentencing that Judge Jim Bailey told me one day back in Chicago. The prisoner brought before him had been hired to kill an 87-year-old woman. The gun misfired. He held her down until an accomplice brought him another weapon. Judge Bailey ordered the death sentence. The sentence was reversed on appeal.

@body:15. The outcome of the San Francisco-Dallas game last Sunday would have been different if Joe Montana had played.

@body:16. I went to Ronald Reagan's first inauguration, traveling from Flagstaff by train. The Bill Williams Mountain Men were on the same train. They were an amazing bunch who never seemed to need sleep. It turned out they and their horses and buckskin suits were the surprise hit of the inaugural parade.

I ended up in the press area, located directly in front of the platform from which Reagan spoke. I looked around and saw all the wealthy Reagan followers from California, each in a fur coat. Reagan talked about his patriotism and his fear of Russia.

The crowd loved it. The conservative columnists predicted the next day that Reagan would be one of our greatest presidents. The thing I remember most about the inauguration was that Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon were in the front row.

The following day, I went out to Arlington National Cemetery. I wanted to visit the graves of the men who had lost their lives in the unsuccessful effort to rescue the Iranian hostages. It was believed that if their mission had been a success, Jimmy Carter would have won a second term.

But the mission failed. Brave men died. Their only reward was to be buried in this famous but lonely cemetery. @rule:

@body:17. I suppose commentators will be talking about Harry Truman's inauguration often today.

Historical scholar Gary Bellrichard insisted I read this excerpt from David McCullough's book Truman:

"Truman put aside his hat, scarf and overcoat. He stood bareheaded to the wind, his right hand raised, a straight-backed, bespectacled figure with closely cropped grey hair, his expression deadly serious.

"It was 1:29, and for the first time as president in his own right, he turned to face the microphones and the expectant crowd.

"Each period of our national history,' Truman said, 'has had its special challenges. Those that confront us now are as momentous as any in the past. Today marks the beginning not only of a new administration, but of a period that will be eventful, perhaps decisive, for us and the world.'"
It was ever thus.

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Tom Fitzpatrick