America's Verdict: OK, Bill

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Too angry? Too brief? Not repentant enough? Everyone's got an opinion about Bill Clinton's five-minute mea culpa, but a sharp divide is beginning to emerge between outraged pundits and the scandal-fatigued public. "The President was angrier and less contrite than anyone had expected," says TIME Washington correspondent Jef McAllister. "Most commentators were surprised that he didn't really apologize, went out of his way to deny committing perjury and attacked Ken Starr. Many people inside the Beltway will see his performance as almost arrogant, but the public is sick enough of the whole thing to accept it."

If the instapolls are to be believed, the American people gave a very cautious thumbs-up to a very cautious speech. In an overnight poll from CNN, 53 percent claimed to be satisfied with the President's remarks. His job approval rating remained steady at 62 percent. Straw polls from the terrestrial networks offered similar figures. As always with Clinton, however, there were contradictions: An ABC poll had 68 percent saying he should not resign, even though 52 percent believed he did obstruct justice -- the only offense for which he could reasonably be impeached.

Special Report Clinton's practiced reticence was one thing that worked against him -- two-thirds of those polled said he should have come forward earlier. But his long-time love affair with the camera, at least, is still intact: People were 10 percent more likely to believe the President's account if they watched it on television. So that makes two Kennedyesque traits Clinton has inherited.