Clinton's Other Speech

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UNITED NATIONS: If at times during his taped testimony President Clinton seemed seemed to sense that the American people would someday be watching, he harbored no such illusions about his address to the U.N. General Assembly Monday. Good thing. With the live speech pre-empted by the videotape on all but one news channel (CNN affiliate Headline News), almost nobody noticed that Clinton's eyes were bleary and his voice flat, or that the President seemed a little weary -- despite the standing ovation that greeted him -- to be leading an international war on terrorism.

"Even the standing ovation was a double-edged sword," says TIME U.N. reporter Stuart Sogel. "On the one hand, it was a token of support for him as a person. On the other, it's a sign that they think they may not see him there next year." Aside from the soft spot members have for Clinton himself, says Stogel, relations between the U.N. and the U.S. have rarely been worse. Republicans in Congress still refuse to pay the U.S.' dues; the nomination of Richard Holbrooke as ambassador to the U.N. is in grave trouble; and U.S. pronouncements about the so-called chemical weapons plant in Sudan are being scrutinized by the Security Council. But that doesn't mean they don't like Bill. "The diplomats respect him as an individual," says Stogel. "So there was melancholy in the air Monday. That ovation could be taken as a last farewell." Perhaps it's a good thing, after all, that no one was watching. Note: Adding to the morning's cruel ironies were reports that Japan's defense minister Fukushiro Nukaga, on a visit to the Pentagon, was hospitalized after his limousine ran into an anti-terrorism barrier mistakenly activated as Nukaga attempted to enter the Pentagon grounds. The barrier "went up and the defense minister's car ran into it," said Pentagon spokesman Col. Richard Bridges. "The front end of the car ended up on top of the barrier." War on terrorism, indeed.