The Clinton Talk Show

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AKRON, Ohio: Step aside, Oprah; go home, Geraldo, the job’s taken. President Clinton’s town meeting on race may not have clarified the objectives of his One America initiative, but it did showcase his stellar ability as a talk-show host. Assured, composed, informed and witty, he drew out the fears and concerns of his audience and gave them moments of cathartic laughter.

“President Clinton is very knowledgeable and passionate about race, and he did a superb job,” says TIME correspondent Sally Donnelly. “But I don’t think it did anything for his commission on race, which is going nowhere fast.”

Indeed, judging by media reaction, the initiative is in danger of becoming hamstrung on the issue of affirmative action to the detriment of deeper concerns.

“It’s not clear whether the President expects his initiative to yield policy recommendations or to simply be a cathartic process,” says Donnelly, “Cynics might ask what practical results are going to come out of all of this.” Well for one, Bill Clinton could write his own ticket on daytime TV come 2001.