Another day, another speech to the nation. But it was a different President Clinton who gave it.
Drawing his energy from brinkmanship with terrorists - rather than the sea breezes of Martha's Vineyard - Clinton spoke to the nation Thursday with the confidence of knowing that Americans instinctively back their president in the first flash of military action.Back in his rhetoric and tone were all the touchstones of a presidential address that were missing in his largely panned, personal speech to the country Monday night. That's when he changed his story on Monica Lewinsky and admitted an improper relationship with her in an angry, wounded performance.
Speaking this time from the Oval Office, the core of presidential power, Clinton had the flags as his frame. His decision to interrupt his Massachusetts vacation to return to Washington overnight punctuated the snappy change of subject away from his still-imperiled presidency.
In a red patterned tie, white shirt and blue jacket, he addressed "my fellow Americans" and had some bounce in his voice. He wore the authority implicit in the title, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.
To his right was a colorful display of military coins that he has gathered from military bases around the world.
Monday's speech, in contrast, was delivered in the dim, warm light of a White House room few Americans had heard of, the Map Room. A bowl of flowers was the most striking prop; critics thought the speech amounted to a lot of petulance amid petals.
Clinton went into his latest speech with some cheerleading from members of Congress, missing before and after his earlier accounting to the nation. It followed by several hours Lewinsky's second round of testimony to a grand jury exploring their relationship and whether he tried to get her to cover it up.