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Second Wind for Clinton?

THE Clinton administration, beset by criticism from Capitol Hill Democrats as well as Republicans, has seemed to have little success with its executive and legislative programs.

But events in recent days have brought several rays of hope through the windows of the Oval Office.

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Nomination of Federal Appeals Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court bench June 14, and indications that Senate confirmation was virtually assured, was the first good news for the president in some time.

On June 16 there was more good news: Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee agreed on a combination of tax increases and spending cuts that are expected to bring passage of the president's deficit-reduction initiative within reach.

On the same day, Senate Democrats and the White House, with help from seven Republican moderates, were able to block a Republican filibuster, making it probable that Clinton-sponsored legislation aimed at revamping the financing of congressional elections will be enacted. And to top it off, the president's proposed national-service program for college-age youths was approved by large, bipartisan majorities in both the House Education and Labor Committee and the Senate Labor and Human Resources panels.

What goes on here? Actually, it's politics as usual, plus the inevitable maturing of a new president and a staff which, for a number of reasons, is "greener" in terms of Capitol Hill politics than the last two Republican administrations, or even that of Jimmy Carter, who also struggled through an "inside the beltway" initiation before settling down and accomplishing a number of goals in his single term - including the Egypt-Israel peace treaty.

Clinton is the same man who, when he headed the National Governors' Association, was recognized by fellow governors as an outstanding state leader. He stepped into his present position facing domestic and foreign-policy problems the extent and difficulty of which could hardly be fully anticipated.

He also carried the baggage of a very rough campaign, which he managed to win without a majority.

It is quite likely that in coming weeks we will see a more self-assured, well-organized President Clinton than we have up to now.

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