Clinton regains his footing after an early stumble: First 100 hours

THERE was just one moment when President Bill Clinton looked at a loss last week. During his open-house reception in the White House he had a word for everybody, until one man clasped his hand and asked loudly: 'In the hall of seven stars and seven candlesticks, can I speak in the tongue of God?' Mr Clinton looked blank as the man added, 'The Lord hath spoken through the Messiah,' before attendants led him away.

When another guest stumbled over the Persian carpet where Mr Clinton was standing, the President had it fastened down, and stared fixedly at the man taping the edge of it to the floor as reporters shouted questions about Zoe Baird, whose nomination for Attorney General was foundering in the Senate. His deep interest in the position of the rug was taken as a sign that the White House was distancing itself from the Baird nomination.

His action also underlined that the priorities of the new administration are intensely political. When George Bush was elected president in 1988, he abruptly announced that the campaign was over, as if it had been a distasteful episode, then fought a damaging and ultimately losing battle for the nomination of John Tower as Defense Secretary.

President Clinton last week did the exact opposite, accepting Mrs Baird's withdrawal immediately and taking all the blame. This defused any sense that he had lost a battle with Congress and any belief that he saw his nominee's employment of two Peruvian ilegal immigrants as a trivial offence.

The popular outcry against Mrs Baird illustrates a change in the US political mood since the 1980s. The antagonism towards her proves that the resentment against an elite protected by money from the realities of daily life, which helped put Mr Clinton in the White House, is still very strong. If Mr Clinton had tried to force her nomination through, he would have badly dented his populist reputation.

The President has been surprisingly little damaged by the Baird row, his conciliatory words about Saddam Hussein (immediately reversed) or his flip-flop over returning refugees to Haiti. He is still enjoying a honeymoon period with voters, and he has yet to produce his health reform package, which he promised within his first 100 days. Given that polls show that voters worry more about health than jobs, taxes or the economy, his performance here is critical.

The most radical development in Mr Clinton's policies since the election is that Hillary Clinton is supervising the development of a health plan that would include tough government price controls over hospitals and doctors. The President was reportedly worried that his health-care advisers had failed to produce a plan that would give health coverage to all Americans - including the 36 million who have no health insurance - without adding appreciably to the budget deficit.

The medical and pharmaceutical lobbies are certain to fight proposals to put a ceiling on prices, but they are unlikely to win in face of the popular desire for reform and support for Mr Clinton from big insurance companies.

Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Manager (retail, upgrades, rollouts)

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project...

Technical Project Manager - Software and Infrastructure - Government Experience

£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Central Lon...

Head of Technology

Negotiable: Randstad Education Reading: Head of Technology needed for a Outsta...

Maths teachers needed in Cromer

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Maths teachers requir...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits