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Did Clinton's Speech Save Him?

President Clinton's address to the nation Monday night has drawn mostly negative reactions from political pundits, who say they were disappointed by his failure to offer a clear apology, and his attack on independent counsel Kenneth Starr.

"That was the angriest apology I have ever heard and the most unapologetic apology," conservative commentator Fred Barnes told CBS 'This Morning' on Tuesday.

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Noting the angry reaction of Republicans, Barnes said the Democrats also were not pleased by how Mr. Clinton targeted Starr as the one who was wrongly prying into private affairs.

"I didn't think this was the rallying cry they wanted," Barnes said. "He got no closure from that speech last night."

Larry Sabato
Larry Sabato, a professor of government at the University of Virginia also found the president's speech a missed opportunity to put the Lewinsky matter behind.

"I thought he did an exceptionally poor job," Sabato said.

"He was so angry and defensive. Attacking Ken Starr was completely out of place in the speech," Sabato added.

CBS News Consultant Bob Beckel, a Democratic analyst, found the "surprise attack" on Starr too weak.

"If it were me, I would have attacked a lot harder," Beckel said.

Although a CBS News-New York Times Poll shows that the majority of those polled were satisfied with President Clinton's speech and think he should not be impeached, one political observer said that public opinion can't sway prosecutors.

"We have relied too much on public opinion polls when, in fact, this has now moved out of the public opinion realm and into the political and prosecutorial realm," Sabato said.

As the investigation continues, both Democrats and Republicans can expect a quickly changing political climate as the November elections draw near, as well as a change in the power of future presidents.

"This has never happened in history before," Beckel said. "This will affect the Democrats in the fall. It means the Democrats will have a much tougher time if they ever did have a chance of taking the House back."

Don Baer

CBS News Consultant Don Baer, a former speechwriter, acknowledged the harsh reactions in Washington Tuesday, but noted tha the president's desire to "move on" was important.

"He wants to continue to do his job for the country and get the country to do it with him. That's what the American people want to hear," Baer said.

Baer added that the first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton, may have held the most clear view of Mr. Clinton throughout the investigation.

"Whether or not she believes him, she has always believed in Bill Clinton," Baer said. "She thinks of him as the most gifted politician of our generation. She believes that quite fervently. She believes he was destined to be president, and he was destined to be a great president."

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