Clinton Accused: Policy wonk one minute, sex maniac the next

In his first television interview on Wednesday, hours after the scandal broke, President Bill Clinton said: "I must contain my natural impulses."

What the context suggested he meant was that if he did not contain himself he would explode with fury. But perhaps there was a deeper, unintended meaning behind his choice of words. Perhaps it was a Freudian slip, one of those chance remarks that offers a window of understanding into the tortured workings of an individual's inner mind.

Because clearly Mr Clinton is a man at war with himself. On the one hand there is good Bill - the intelligent policy wonk, the brilliant political operator, the charismatic leader. And then there is evil Bill: the rogue alpha male unable to repress the urge to pounce on any attractive female who comes into his lair. That, at any rate, is the picture that emerges from the latest allegation that he could not prevent himself from pouncing on a young woman barely older than his daughter Chelsea.

And it is a picture fixed in the minds of the majority of Americans, familiar with sex stories that have trailed in his wake since he emerged as the Democratic presidential candidate in 1991.

Almost as if he had deliberately, or perhaps unconsciously, sought to emulate his hero, John Kennedy, in every detail, the most sordid not excluded, he appears to have sought most recklessly to sate his appetite for female flesh.

Carrying on a 12-year affair with Gennifer Flowers, as he reportedly confirmed he did under interrogation from Paula Jones's lawyers last weekend, was irrational, given that those 12 years were the ones when he was building up his local credentials to project himself later into the national political field.

Then, within minutes of setting eyes on Ms Jones during a conference in Arkansas in 1991, he asked for a member of his security detail to arrange a rendezvous in a hotel room where, she says, he dropped his trousers and asked her to do the deed. It has also emerged that, without ceremony, he leapt on a White House aide named Kathleen Willey and started to grope her. Ms Willey is reported to have said to Ms Jones's lawyers that he told her: "I've always wanted to do that."