As he sat preparing for his televised address, Mr Clinton told close aides his public confession would be the hardest task of his career. But there was barely a trace of nerves or true contrition to be seen during his short speech. His eyes slightly narrowed, his jaw jutting with a familiar defiance, the President's mea culpa was delivered in the same style with which he made the classic denial back in January of a sexual affair with 'that woman'. In short, yesterday's speech was classic Clinton: the consummate lawyer, politician - and survivor. The address was aimed at only one audience: the public. Having noted opinion polls which show most Americans do not particularly care about his sexual transgressions, the President proceeded to give them just enough - he will hope - to forgive him and let him move on. Yes, there was an expression of 'deep regret' that he misled the public for seven months - not to mention his wife; he also told the people that he took 'full responsibility' for his actions. But there was no apology. Mr Clinton seems to have taken a calculated gamble that he can be rehabilitated in the eyes of the American people without having to use the word 'sorry'. 'Even presidents have private lives,' said Mr Clinton, slowly transforming from humbled human being into professional politician. 'It is time to stop the pursuit of personal destruction and the prying into private lives and get on with our national life. It's nobody's business but ours.' That the President came out swinging is largely due to the advice of some of his trusted PR advisers, including Hollywood producer Harry Thomasson, and his lawyers, who helped prepare him for the speech. One sideshow to yesterday's events has been the disillusionment of some of the President's current and former staff, many of whom stuck their necks out to back him when he was denying the existence of an affair. One of them, former adviser George Stephanopoulos, praised the admission of an affair but said it was a mistake to attack Mr Starr, adding that the President 'wasn't as contrite as I expected'. Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, who had promised Congress would probably drop any impeachment plans if Mr Clinton said sorry and asked for forgiveness, was furious at the attack on the prosecutor, saying: 'He could have been a bit more humble - he should have taken the blame himself and left Judge Starr out of it.' While the President may have made peace with the public, the speech could end up being the biggest political risk of his presidency. Typically, he chose this darkest hour to throw down the gauntlet to his tormentors: and how Mr Starr and the Congress will respond to the challenge will make for a fascinating finale.