In spite of predictions that he will devote a major part of his time to foreign policy over the next four years, he had even less to say about American leadership in international affairs than he did in his first inaugural address.
The United States is now the lone superpower on the globe, a fact that Clinton alluded to when he repeated Secretary of State-designate Madeleine K. Albright's observation that America has become "the world's indispensable nation." But he offered no clues as to what he considers the country's mission or role in that regard.
Eyes on the future
On one point, however, Clinton was clear: his rhetorical focus on the future and, particularly, on the coming of a new century.
It is a subject that seems to obsess him. At his 1993 inauguration, he described the country as being "on the edge of the 21st century." Yesterday, he used the word "century" 20 times, and even threw in a reference to the new millennium that will dawn in the final month of his term.
One hundred years ago, by contrast, President William McKinley made no reference to the impending turn of the century in his 1897 inaugural address (nor, for that matter, did he mention it in his second inaugural address in 1901).
Uttering a biblically inspired catch phrase he repeated several times yesterday, Clinton urged Americans to set their sights upon "a land of new promise." But as he sets off on the second leg of his presidential journey, he has yet to give a clear indication that he knows how to get there.
Pub Date: 1/21/97