Clinton adulation eclipses the trial

STILL ON trial in the Senate for his job and his legacy, President Bill Clinton was riding higher yesterday than at almost any other time in his six-year presidency after a triumphant State of the Union address on Tuesday night and an impressive defence from his lead lawyer, Charles Ruff, in the Senate that afternoon. As his lawyers prepared for the second day of his Senate defence, opinion polls showed his job approval rate soaring, to 70 per cent and higher.

Basking in the adulation of his friends and the grudging admiration of many foes, Mr Clinton turned his back on Washington politics for the day and flew to New York State and Pennsylvania to take his message of a strong America, more energised - as he put it - and more prosperous than ever, direct to the people.

But even as he left Washington, one of the key policy proposals in his State of the Union address was coming under attack from Alan Greenspan,chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. Questioned by members of Congress at a House committee hearing, Mr Greenspan said he opposed any measure that would lead to funds from the United States state pension scheme being invested in stock markets. Mr Clinton had suggested that a part of the massive budget surplus be put into stocks to help to head off the system's bankruptcy as the baby-boom generation reached retirement.

Mr Greenspan said he believed that investment by the Government would cause big problems for the stock market. "Because I do not believe that it is politically feasible to insulate such huge funds from a governmental direction, I'm fearful that we will use those assets in a way which will create a lower rate of return - but even a greater concern, that it will create sub-optimal use of our capital resources and those assets which create our standard of living," he said.

Mr Greenspan's remarks indicated an unusual divergence of opinion between the two men who are jointly credited with the unprecedented run of growth enjoyed by the US in recent years. Even though the ideas set out in the State of the Union address are presidential intentions rather than national policy, and must be enshrined in Bills or the Budget and submitted to the Congress for approval, such an early rejection of a proposal from so authoritative a source is rare.

Outside Washington, however, the fine print of Mr Clinton's address was less significant than the overall impression it created: of a supremely confident President at the peak of his authority, exulting in the successes of his term and a half in office.

There was no hint of any concern about the fact that his audience contained the more than 200 Representatives responsible for his impeachment - in that very Chamber - or the 100 Senators who are his jurors by day on the other side of the Capitol. Although the constitutional process set in train by the allegations about Mr Clinton and Monica Lewinsky a year ago is now in its final, and crucial, stage, there seemed not a cloud on the President's horizon. Some even feared that his very self-assurance might turn the Senate against him: "He is almost taunting them," one commentator said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test