What Bill would say if ...

'I had a choice and, after much agonising deliberation, I made the wrong one.' John Carlin imagines Clinton coming clean
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EVEN IF it is proved conclusively that Bill Clinton lied to the American people about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, no one should underestimate the ability of the master communicator to get off the hook. Here is a taste of the televised address the President might deliver to win over the nation's hearts and minds and survive in the White House to the end of his allotted term.

My fellow Americans,

These are good times for us. Our country enjoys great blessings. The lowest unemployment in 24 years. The lowest inflation in 30 years. Incomes are rising. Crime is falling. On the world stage our leadership is unrivalled. The United States is the greatest, richest, most powerful nation in the history of planet earth.

This is not my achievement. It is everyone's achievement. All decent, hard-working people who dream the American Dream. My job has been to steer, to manage, to lead. It is a job to which I have dedicated every last ounce of my strength. It has cost me blood, sweat and, sometimes, tears.

As you will know, I have had to endure some unfortunate distractions in my strivings to do what is best for the American people. My presidency has been assailed from day one by those who, for whatever reasons of their own, would undermine the sacred project which I have undertaken, with Hillary and Chelsea by my side. And, yes, I must be man enough to accept here before you, my countrymen and women, that I did succumb to human weakness.

My detractors have rummaged through every cupboard, every drawer, every closet of my personal life and found very little to satisfy their scurrilous appetites. But sooner or later the relentless, remorseless probing and scavenging was going to yield something for them to feed on. None of us is perfect. I know that. My wife knows that.

That is why, with a discretion that I now regret, I said to you the things that I said about my relationship with a young woman with whom you are all by now familiar, a young woman who has suffered an intensity of scrutiny I would never want any other American to endure.

I wish first of all to apologise to her and to her family. They have been cruelly hounded by the media, by the Office of the Independent Counsel. This might have been avoided had I been more frank with you from the beginning. I miscalculated. I believed that by shielding the totality of the facts from the public I would spare her unnecessary pain. I never imagined her pursuers - my pursuers - would be so cruel, so unforgiving. My attempt to do the right thing backfired. I had a choice and, after much agonising deliberation, I made the wrong one.

And so I have been pilloried, and perhaps justly so. But who among my enemies could look into their hearts and in all sincerity, in all conscience, cast the first stone?

Yet, it is true, I do occupy the highest office in the land. And I understand that when you, the people, elected me to that honour you had the right to expect that my judgement would be as near flawless as can be. But I am not a god. I am a man. And I have lapsed. And for that I wish to extend to you, the American people, a deep and sincere apology. And I would ask you, in all humility, to forgive me.

I have already sought Hillary's forgivenness and she - with a readiness that speaks eloquently of her grandeur, courage and nobility - has granted it. She understands that I said what I said out of a desire, over and above all else, to protect the most important things in the world to me: my marriage, my family.

My hope now, and Hillary's hope too, is that in the future the presidency of the United States will be afforded more respect. Don't get me wrong. All elected officials should be held up to the strictest standards. But when public scrutiny extends beyond affairs of state, of governance, and sinks to the depths we have seen in recent weeks, no one is served and everyone is demeaned - the presidency, the country, and you, the citizens of this great nation.

Yes, with heavy heart I confess my failings and I express my apologies. But I do so with a conviction that matters such as this one belong not in the public sphere, but in the realm of the house and home. This has been a painful business but I firmly believe that in the end its resolution should be left to myself, my family and my God.

Now, my fellow Americans, I say to you let us put this episode behind us. There is work to be done. Let us move on. Let us all join together to make America even better, stronger. Let us build that bridge to the 21st century, to a brighter future for our children, and our children's children.

Good night.

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