The Campaign: The Long Shadow Of Vietnam

What Bill Clinton did during the war -- and how he explained his actions then and now -- reflects the anguished memories of millions of Americans

Bill Clinton in those days slept on a mattress on the floor of his bedroom at 46 Leckford Road in North Oxford, England. He ate bad Indian and Chinese food -- curry, dim sum -- from restaurants on the corner.

It was a cold, gloomy late November in 1969. Clinton, a Rhodes scholar from Hot Springs, Ark., fed sixpence and shillings into the meter of the electric fire in order to warm himself. He sat at a rickety table lighted by a gooseneck lamp and worked on a letter about Vietnam, moral principles and the draft.

Sometimes, to clear his head,...

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