Dec. 18 1998 3:30 AM


A libretto in search of a composer

The White House may have been in crisis all year, but the events were less the stuff of great drama than of a farcical musical comedy. Hey, wait a minute--let's put on a show!


The time: November 1995.

The House Republicans, led by Speaker Newt Gingrich, are insisting on their version of the budget. President Bill Clinton is stubbornly rejecting it. The Republicans have taken a bold option: They will just refuse to pass a budget, and they'll let the government shut down. In the Oval Office, BILL CLINTON meets with advisers LEON PANETTA and HAROLD ICKES and secretary BETTY CURRIE to discuss this development.

Illustration by Michael Sloan

"The Shutdown" (upbeat production number)

PANETTA: The Republicans have positions

To which they're clinging fast.

ICKES: The president is just as firm

The die, it seems, is cast.

PANETTA: Without a budget passed by Congress

The government will close.