In this era of globalisation, we need to look beyond Hong Kong. This News Review, a story from the United States, will give you a glimpse of what is happening outside the territory. Giant of his generation, flawed Clinton leaves confusing legacy (SCMP, January 20, 2001) Greg Torode in Washington There are no easy assessments of Bill Clinton, the political giant of his generation, after a scandal-plagued rule touched by greatness but flawed by weakness. Uncertainties, contradictions and compromises shroud his legacy at every turn despite Slick Willie's prodigious intelligence and political gifts. Even his much-beloved polls - he once even took private soundings over whether he could get away with a lie over sex with intern Monica Lewinsky - are murky. He leaves office this week with job approval ratings as high as any modern president, but personal ratings setting new lows. The election only deepened the quagmire, with ordinary Americans seemingly unable to decide between two candidates clearly lacking Mr Clinton's abilities. Vice-president Al Gore eventually lost, not helped by big defeats in Mr Clinton's southern base, but First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton won her Senate race in New York. Among commentators and historians, the uncertainty over Mr Clinton is palpable. The departure of a president - a definer of generations - is a big deal at the best of times, but Mr Clinton's is something special. No president before him has, after all, ever found himself in front of the Seal of Office uttering a blunt untruth to the world - 'I did not have sexual relations with that woman' - a phrase that for some historians is a fitting political epitaph. The Economist, the respected British weekly that famously demanded his resignation at the height of the Lewinsky scandal, captured the mood, declaring this week that Mr Clinton had proved both better and worse than expected. And in his final months and weeks, we have seen why. Whether in Belfast, Hanoi or Washington, he has sought peace, international understanding and advancement with passion, eloquence and empathy - a natural statesmanship that George W. Bush will struggle to convey. Yet, in some of his final interviews, he has come across as something different at times, the indulgent first president from the post-war baby boom. In Esquire magazine, he compared his hounding at the hands of Republicans to the persecution faced by homosexuals and blacks in the US. In the New Yorker, he listed surviving impeachment as one of his greatest political achievements. Even as Mr Gore fought his re-count battles, Mr Clinton went on record saying he would have won if he had been allowed to run for a third term. As he departs Washington, uncertainties cloud his next move, too. On a good day, few leaders have ever looked as content in office as Mr Clinton. When he wakes up on Sunday morning out of office but with a good many years left, few are expecting him to go gently into retirement. Hotly anticipated memoirs beckon and Mr Clinton must get used to being a 'Senate husband' as his wife embarks on a fresh political career that could yet see a presidential run. He has spoken about getting rich for the first time in his life and throwing himself into building up his Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas. At other moments in recent times, Mr Clinton has spoken with frustration of all the back-room politics involved in the White House and talked with passion about the grander role of a president to set visions to solve international problems such as regional tension and the environment. 'We waste our time on too many distractions,' he said. When he was just six years old playing in the backyards of hard-bitten Hot Springs, Arkansas, his mother used to tell neighbours that 'my Billy' will be president some day. Now, aged just 54 and at the height of his powers, the big dream is over. Glossary contradiction (n) a difference between two statements, beliefs or ideas which means they cannot both be true intern (n) a trainee quagmire (n) a difficult or complicated situation palpable (adj) a feeling or atmosphere so intense that it feels like it could be touched scandal (n) a disgraceful action or event impeachment (n) the charging of a public official with an offence committed while in office Discussion points Do you think Bill Clinton was a good leader during his time as US president, or did the Monica Lewinsky scandal overshadow his achievements? Do you think he will be remembered favourably in the future? What did you think of him when he lied?