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Wednesday, 21 June, 2000, 17:50 GMT 18:50 UK
After the White House

If old soldiers fade away, what do ex-presidents do? Bill Clinton, it seems, may return to Oxford to relive his college days.

Whether the President of the United States is indeed the most powerful person on the planet, any other job must still seem trivial in comparison.

The White House's current resident, William Jefferson Clinton, will have to pack his bags by January 2001. Aged just 54, will the life-long political animal quietly head for the golf course?
President Clinton on the golf course
Will Clinton get into the swing of retirement?

With perhaps as low a reputation as any departing president since Richard Nixon, "Slick Willy" may be considering fleeing America for a quiet life in the genteel environs of rural Oxfordshire.

According to newspaper reports, British police officers are checking out suitable homes for Mr Clinton, close to the university town where he studied in the 1960s.

Rhodes to home

The former Rhodes Scholar will join a growing band of American celebrities, including the likes of Madonna, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, who are crossing the pond.

Although White House officials have dampened speculation the President will once again be inhaling the Oxfordshire air, an appointment to the faculty of a major university may not be a bad move for Mr Clinton.
President Clinton and Jimmy Carter
"I don't work for peanuts, Jimmy."

While many US presidents depart (and enter) office in their autumn years, Bill Clinton is barely into middle age despite enjoying his constitutional limit of two terms.

Jimmy Carter, also a Democrat, is the only other recent US leader to have contemplated retirement at such a young age.

"When Rosalynn [Mrs Carter] and I left the White House in 1981, we didn't know what we were going to do with the rest of our lives," said Carter.

Centre stage

Still battered by the Iranian hostage crisis, the nuclear physicist turned peanut farmer returned to academia, setting up the Carter Centre at Emory University, Georgia.

According to Rosalynn Carter, the former president had no lack of ambition. "One night Jimmy said: 'I know what we can do. We can make the Carter Centre a place where we can work to resolve conflicts.'"
George Bush and son George W Bush
Going behind a Bush

Though wars still rage around the globe, Mr Carter can not be accused of ducking his avowed goals.

He has attempted to tackle some of the thorniest issues of our day, promoting democracy in East Timor, Nigeria and Indonesia.

He has also risked his good name visiting the pariah state, North Korea, in 1994 and lobbying for heiress cum bank robber Patty Hearst to be formally pardoned.

Careering ahead

President Clinton, a career politician and so-called "policy wonk", may well be tempted to head his own thinktank or research institute.

His political ambitions could find a more vicarious outlet. Just as George Bush is working behind the scenes for his son's presidential campaign, Mr Clinton may devote his energies to the political careers of the First Family.
Bill and Chelsea Clinton on a state visit
Will Chelsea follow her dad's direction?

While whispers Stateside suggest Hillary Clinton is keeping her husband at arm's length during her run for a New York Senate seat, daughter Chelsea may prove more fertile ground.

The 20-year-old, who has accompanied dad on several state visits in place of Hillary, is said to have switched her studies at prestigious Stanford University from science to history.

She had wanted to be a doctor. The Times quoted a friend's speculation about the decision: "Who knows? She may be going more in her parents' direction."

Bill's bills

President Clinton does, of course, have more pressing problems. The legal wrangles which dogged his time in office have left Mr Clinton owing lawyers some $5.5m.

With the prospect of leaving the Oval Office poorer than any other president in decades, Mr Clinton may not even be able to fall back on his own legal training to put bread on the table.
President Clinton playing his sax
Career blow: What skills can Bill fall back on?

Unimpressed by his conduct during the Paula Jones sexual harassment case, the supreme court in the President's native Arkansas has recommended his law licence be revoked.

Caretaker president Gerald Ford found his CV carried weight with corporate America. However, his business career will forever be overshadowed by his wife Betty's drug rehab clinic and his cameo in 80s soap Dynasty.

For a quick buck, Mr Clinton could hit the lucrative lecture circuit. George Bush reportedly earned $14m last year from those still eager to read his lips.

Money talks

Before the onset of Alzheimer's Disease, Ronald Reagan picked up a staggering $2m for imparting his wisdom at a handful of engagements in Japan.

Most recent presidents have helped establish libraries in their name. Some have even tried to fill them with their own writings.
President Nixon talks to astronauts
Many former presidents captivate audiences

Disgraced Richard Nixon attempted to set the record straight with his memoirs and went on to publish books on foreign policy, including 1985's No More Vietnams.

Jimmy Carter has taken a softer approach, writing The Virtues of Ageing, an ode to active retirement, and the children's story The Little Baby Snoogle-Fleejer.

After the scandals of the past few years, if Bill Clinton really wants to supplement his pension any bestseller will have to include bedtime stories of a far steamier nature.

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See also:

23 May 00 | Americas
Clinton faces disbarment
09 May 00 | Americas
Bill keeps it in the family
23 Mar 00 | South Asia
In pictures: Clinton in India
30 Apr 00 | Americas
World's most powerful homemaker
30 Mar 99 | Asia-Pacific
Carter: No apology to Taipei
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