Even in Tokyo, Clinton can't escape scandal Woman questions apology to his wife and daughter

Impeachment Hearings

November 20, 1998|By HEARST NEWSPAPERS

TOKYO -- As the House Judiciary Committee began impeachment hearings in Washington yesterday, President Clinton traveled more than 8,000 miles to Tokyo only to be confronted by an indignant Japanese housewife who questioned his apology to his wife and daughter for the Monica Lewinsky affair.

"How did you apologize to Mrs. Clinton and Chelsea?" the mother of two asked in a nationally televised 43-minute question-and-answer session with the president. "I feel I would never be able to forgive my husband for doing that, but did they really forgive you, Mr. President?"

Clinton, sitting in a TV studio in Tokyo, appeared startled by the question from a television audience in Osaka that was linked via television hookup for the "town hall" meeting.

The invited Tokyo audience of 100 of Japan's future leaders seated before him reacted with a collective sigh, and Clinton replied in a deliberate, patient tone with a strained smile.

"Well, I did it in a direct and straightforward manner," Clinton explained, speaking slowly. "I believe they did, yes. But that's really a question you could ask them better than me."

The president clenched his jaw after completing his response.

Neither Mrs. Clinton nor Chelsea accompanied the president to Tokyo.

Mrs. Clinton is touring hurricane-damaged nations in Central America. Chelsea is a sophomore at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif.

TV personality Tetsuya Chikushi, host for Clinton's town meeting session, quickly injected, "Let's change the subject now."

Chikushi shifted the subject to U.S.-Japan relations, observing: "Now our bilateral relationship is the most important of all."

Chikushi and the president sat before the live audience on two bar stools with a large video screen before them that linked the studio to Osaka.

Clinton delighted his audience with a series of personal insights.

In response to a question, Clinton boasted about his close relationship with his daughter. He said he had helped with her homework "until it became too difficult for me."

He offered public speaking advice to another questioner, telling her to pretend "that you're speaking to a few of your friends" rather than addressing a large audience via television.

"You don't have to change. You just have to be yourself," Clinton counseled.

Pub Date: 11/20/98

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