IT HAD TO happen: the man who claimed the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius as his favourite book has swapped the wisdom of his Stoic guru for the muscle-bound militarism of Schwarzenegger.
Clearly, with his popularity ratings sinking fast, Bill Clinton needed to display some muscle and a go-get'em zeal. The American pioneer legacy calls for heroes in the action-man mould of Stallone and Eastwood. Clinton knew that to play to the galleries he needed a cracking good show: rockets, explosions, and, why not, a bomb or two. The pretext — a foiled assassination attempt on a former US Head of State — made for a poor twist in the plot. More importantly, Clinton was robbed of his grand finale: Saddam is alive and plotting away in some Baghdad bunker.
The Muslim world will not readily forget the Saturday night special Bill Clinton choreographed. His display of military machismo may have improved the President's popularity rating by a point or two, but this punitive retaliation, claiming eight lives, may have set off a whole host of unwelcome sequels.