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 TIME on politics Congressional Quarterly CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and Congressional Quarterly
Investigating The President

Clinton's evolving apology for the Lewinsky affair

Clinton, Aug. 17

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Sept. 10) -- After President Bill Clinton's August 17 address to the nation was widely panned as long on venom toward Ken Starr and short on contrition, Clinton has talked publicly about his affair with Monica Lewinsky five additional times.

In his original four-minute "explanation," the president managed to slip in a line about the scandal being his "responsibility" that he regreted "deeply." But those listening for the word "sorry" would not hear it for another few weeks when the president was traveling in Ireland.

Fast forward to the latest presidential mea culpas, on Wednesday in Florida. His words were not only apologetic, but so was the tone.

It was a long road for Clinton toward public contrition. Here's what he has said so far:

August 17: "I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong.

"I misled people, including even my wife. I deeply regret that."

August 28: "I'm having to become quite an expert in this business of asking for forgiveness."

September 2: "You know, I have acknowledged that I made a mistake, said that I regretted it, asked to be forgiven, spent a lot of very valuable time with my family in the last couple of weeks, and said I was going back to work."

September 4: "I made a big mistake. It is indefensible and I am sorry.

"I can't disagree with anyone else who wants to be critical of what I have already acknowledged is indefensible. There's nothing that he (Sen. Joseph Lieberman) or anyone else could say in a personally critical way that I don't imagine I would disagree with since I have already said it myself, to myself, and I'm very sorry about it, but there's nothing else I can say."

Clinton, Sept. 9

September 9 (afternoon): "I also let you down and I let my family down and I let this country down. But I'm trying to make it right. And I'm determined never to let anything like that happen again. And I'm determined to redeem the trust.

"So I ask you for your understanding, for your forgiveness on this journey we're on. I hope this will be a time of reconciliation and healing."

September 9 (evening): "I've tried to do a good job taking care of this country, even when I haven't taken such good care of myself and my family and my obligations. I hope that you and others I have injured will forgive me for the mistakes I've made, but the most important thing is you must not let it deter you from meeting your responsibilities as citizens."


Thursday September 10, 1998

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