Clinton's legacy to the internet age: one e-mail

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History may credit Bill Clinton with having been the most natural and effective communicator of any of America's recent presidents. But what it will also do is to question just how up to speed he was when it came to communicating by e-mail.

Officials at the Bill Clinton Presidential Library have revealed that, while the archives will eventually contain almost 40 million e-mails sent by his staff, there are only two sent by the former president during his eight-year tenure at the White House.

Worse still, said Skip Rutherford, head of the foundation, one of the two e-mails may not qualify because it was sent as a test message to see if Mr Clinton, as commander-in-chief, could press the right button.

"He's not a techno-klutz. I don't think President Bush sends e-mails, either," said Mr Rutherford. "Most of the decisions in the Oval Office are made through decision memos."

Mr Rutherford said the only person to have discovered a Clinton presidential message in their inbox was the Ohio Senator John Glenn, who received the unique honour in 1998 when he made his record-breaking return to space, 36 years after becoming the first American to orbit the earth. Mr Clinton's staff had to help him send that message of congratulation to the senator while he was on the space shuttle.

A spokeswoman for the library in Little Rock, Arkansas, confirmed the former president's aversion to e-mail. "He is a person person," she said. "He is not really into computers and all of that. He much prefers to use a pen or the telephone."

What Mr Clinton said to Mr Glenn, who retired from the Senate in 1998, is not known. Mr Glenn, who returned to space on the Discovery as a "payload specialist" in October 1998 at the age of 77, was unavailable for comment.

Mr Clinton is finishing his memoirs, due for publication later this year.