THE NIGHTMARES BEFORE CHRISTMAS

Cheer was hard to find at the White House after episodes from Bill Clinton's past came to haunt him

Bill Clinton is usually a great off-the-cuff speaker, able to answer complicated questions smoothly and with a sure command of detail. But at times last week he found himself struggling for words. The worst moment came when a radio reporter questioned the President on vivid new charges about a painful old subject: extramarital affairs. ''So none of this actually happened?'' the reporter asked. The President answered in the tones of a man stumbling through thickets of misgiving. ''I have nothing else to say,'' he declared. ''We . . . we did, if, the, the, I, I, the stories are just as...

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