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Friday, 19 January, 2001, 10:22 GMT
Analysis: Clinton's farewell
President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton bows out after eight years
By Paul Reynolds in Washington

Bill Clinton said thank you and farewell to the American people on Thursday night, without tears and without mentioning Monica Lewinsky or impeachment.

It was a confident performance and he had much to be confident about.

George W Bush
Clinton had plenty of advice for his successor George W Bush
"America has done well," he declared with an implicit pat on the back for himself as well. And with justification.

He cited the longest period of economic expansion in American history; lower crime figures, better education results, and more people covered by health insurance. He did not mention the 40 million Americans without insurance.

Advice

He has indeed presided over a successful economic period.

But Clinton being Clinton, he was unable to leave it at that.

He had to offer advice to his successor as well, as if he found it hard to leave the office to which he has become so accustomed.


His speech was how he wants his legacy to be - a good record with good ideas for the future and none of that messy stuff which got in the way

He said that America - meaning President-elect George W Bush - should follow three policies.

The first was to maintain fiscal responsibility. That was a dig at Mr Bush's big tax cutting proposals.

Mr Clinton remarked that $600bn worth of debt had been paid off and that the whole debt could be wiped out by the end of the decade.

Then, in a swipe at Mr Bush's intention to avoid too many foreign entanglements, Mr Clinton said that America should be a bold and resolute leader and should not disentangle itself from the world.

Finally, he turned to race relations at home, recommending that America's "coat of many colours be weaved into a common fabric".

Something missing

It was bold advice for the incoming President from a self-assured outgoing one.

Monica Lewinsky
Monica Lewinsky was not mentioned in Mr Clinton's farewell
But something was missing. There was no apology for the events which led to impeachment, no reference in however disguised a way to Monica Lewinsky.

His speech was how he wants his legacy to be - a good record with good ideas for the future and none of that messy stuff which got in the way.

He dropped a hint that we have not seen the last of him. He hoped to be of public service, he said.

And whatever else he does, Bill Clinton will be on hand to criticise George W Bush if those three suggestions are not followed.

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14 Jan 01 | Americas
The Clinton years
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