President Bill Clinton and Oprah
The 42nd president of the United States—who had one of the most colorful, controversial, adored, reviled reigns in American history—opens up about his mesmerizing, story-laden new memoir: his tumultuous Arkansas childhood, his extraordinary journey to the White House (and beyond), the controversies of his second term ("I felt terrible about what I'd done"), Hillary's political career, what it's really like being president, and his current-day dreams for himself, America, and the world.
My conversation with Bill Clinton really began three days before I met him at his house in Chappaqua, New York, when the pages of his (then still unbound) autobiography, My Life (Knopf), were delivered to me. By the time I finished the last sentence, I felt as if I had walked with Clinton through every step of his life and through part of American history.

The boy born William Jefferson Blythe III spent his early childhood like I did: amid outhouses, washboards, and buttermilk churns. His father, William Jefferson Blythe Jr., died in a car accident on his way to Hope, Arkansas, from Chicago three months before his son's birth. When the future president was almost 4, his mother, Virginia, married Roger Clinton, a sometimes violent alcoholic. Bill Clinton—who had taken his stepfather's surname—studied international relations at Georgetown University, then spent two years at Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. Next came Yale Law School, where he met Hillary Rodham. The two married in 1975 and had Chelsea in 1980.

The exacting detail in My Life confirms Clinton's extraordinary memory for even the briefest experiences and for people's names and histories. Long before he moved into the governor's mansion in Arkansas and, in January 1993, the White House, he was a meet-and-greet kind of guy, always ready to tell a story or take one in.

"My friends literally made me president," he says when I meet with him in his cozy house, 40 minutes by car from his Harlem office. He recalls the 1992 New Hampshire primary: "One hundred and fifty people in Arkansas threw down what they were doing, showed up in New Hampshire, and started knocking on doors, saying, 'You've gotta give this guy enough votes to go on.'"

After eight years in office, two Kenneth Starr investigations (Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky), and one flourishing economy (even some of his detractors admit this), Bill Clinton said goodbye to Washington.

On the day we talk in his sitting room, Clinton is lean and mean, thanks to a stint on the South Beach diet. With his dog, Seamus, playing in the backyard, and a framed photo nearby in which he and Hillary are embracing, Bill Clinton does what growing up in the South taught him to do: He tells me a story—the one that carried him from Hope, Arkansas, to the White House.

Start reading Oprah's interview with President Bill Clinton

Note: This interview appeared in the August 2004 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine.

Oprah: I hear you initially turned in a 900-page manuscript, written in longhand—and you still hadn't gotten to the presidency.

Bill Clinton: That's not quite true. It's really [like] two different books. My life from birth through the presidential campaign is written more like a memoir. Then from the transition [to the White House] to the end, it's a diary of the presidency. When I turned in the first part, which was more than 460 pages, my editor, Bob Gottlieb, told me I couldn't put anything else in!

Oprah: Is it true Bob moved in with you to help you finish?

Clinton: He came up here for about two days. He's an unbelievable human being and a great editor.

Oprah: With more than 900 pages, I can't imagine what in the world you cut.

Clinton: A lot of good stories. Bob said, "Look, some long books read short, and some short books read long. This reads pretty easy, so let's leave the stories in." But when I sent him the first 150 pages, he said, "This is a good story— but are you running for anything?" I said, "No, I'm done." He said, "Good—then you can't put in the name of every person you ever met." He said, "How did you have enough room in your head to remember what happened to everyone's children and grandchildren?" I said, "Man, I'm from Arkansas, and that's what we do."

Oprah: You obviously have a photographic memory. You remembered every neighbor, every encounter.

Clinton: I grew up with all these country people who were really smart but had no education. That was typical in the South at the end of the Second World War. That's what has always made me care about education. My grandmother was smart. Her sister was smarter. And my uncle Buddy? No telling what his IQ was. I bet it was 170, 180. It was spooky what he could remember.

Oprah: Let's talk about your presidency. Toni Morrison said you were the first black president. You have a way with the black community. For those who haven't read the book, explain how being in your grandfather's store in Hope made a difference.

Clinton: Till I was 4, I lived with my grandparents. My grandfather had a store in the predominantly black area of town. I'd play with the kids and just listen and look. My grandfather didn't have a racist bone in his body, which was highly unusual for a lower-middle-class white man. He and my grandmother were strongly for integrating Little Rock Central High School in the fifties. My grandfather taught me to look up to people others look down on. We're not so different after all.

Once, a conservative Republican—a congressman I had a good relationship with—genuinely asked me, "Why do black people like you so much?" I said, "We like people who like us. They like me 'cause I like them and they know it."

Oprah: By the time you moved to Hot Springs with your mother and stepfather, you say you'd already established yourself as a loved boy. You write: "Most people can make it if they have one person in the world who loves them."

Clinton: Right. When I was governor, I read an astonishing study about ten people who'd grown up in impossible circumstances but all made successful lives. One guy had been abandoned early and had four brothers in jail, yet he was a doctor. He'd lived with his grandmother and sometimes slept under the steps of the apartment. Near the entrance to the building, a guy who ran a newspaper stand there would talk to this child every afternoon. He kept saying, "You can do anything; you're a really smart kid." The study concluded that this boy and the other nine people had one thing in common: a caring adult who made the child feel like the most important person in the world. When I met Hillary, she was working at the Yale Child Study Center, and I began learning through her work about child development issues. It was the first time I got it: I am where I am because somebody made me feel I could be anything. That's something a government program can't provide.

Oprah: But did you have a hole in your heart for the father you never knew?

Clinton: Always. That's why I begin the book with him. He was always this looming presence in the back of my mind. I'm not over it yet.

When I was around 12, I was down in Hope visiting my uncle Buddy. One day this guy walked up, took one look at me and said, "You're Bill Blythe's son, aren't you?" I just beamed.

Oprah: It's interesting that in spite of the troubles your mother had with her husband, Roger, you went down to the courthouse to take his last name.

Clinton: I did that because of my brother. He was 5, and I was 15. And by then, I'd gone by Clinton for years. I thought it was weird to keep going by a name I didn't really have. So I changed it—partly for myself, partly for him. I never hated my stepfather, because I knew his alcoholism was a sickness.

Oprah: You write that when you were 5, he fired a gun at your mother.

Clinton: Yes. It was scary. But the crazy thing about living with an alcoholic is that most of them are good people. They're not inherently mean. Most are driven by demons and fears and insecurities, and they hate themselves for what they do.

Oprah: But when someone is under the influence, doesn't a mean spirit come out?
Clinton: Yes, but it's not the dominant persona. That's what I believe about my stepfather. Still, I didn't want my mother to go back to him when she did. By then I knew he could get help but wouldn't, and I didn't think he could whip it alone. He didn't beat it until he was dying. To beat any kind of addiction, most people need help, understanding, and a routine. The addiction feels like a safe place to fall back to when you're threatened, afraid, and feeling like a failure. I saw that with my brother's drug problem.

I think I always had more emotional space than my brother did, because Roger [Sr.] wasn't my biological father. I had enough distance from him to be objective about his problems and his good points. It was much harder for my brother.

Oprah: So even when your brother called you into the house because your stepfather had scissors to your mother's throat, you never hated him?

Clinton: No. I think that was his last outburst. Not long before, he'd found out he had cancer. I just took him out of the laundry room where they [my mother and stepfather] were and put him in the living room. Then I went back and made sure Mother was all right. By then I'd been dealing with my stepfather's alcoholism for years, and I didn't realize the extent to which my brother was humiliated that day. He was 8, and when he ran outside to call me, he wasn't even fully dressed. Thirty years passed before we ever talked through that. I'd never sat down and told him that he was the hero in the deal, not me. If I had understood it better and talked to him then, he might have had fewer problems in life. That incident is what snapped him. He was never again able to open his heart to his father. I just felt lousy. Away at college, that's the kind of stuff I worried about all the time.

Oprah: When you submitted your Rhodes scholar application, you wrote that you wanted to mold an intellect to endure the pressures of politics.

Clinton: Yes. I decided I wanted to be in politics when I was 16.

Oprah: It has often been said that after you shook hands with John F. Kennedy in 1963 [while attending Boys Nation in Washington, D.C.], you knew you wanted to be president.

Clinton: I loved meeting President Kennedy, and that's a nice story, but it's not true. At the time, I aspired to be a member of the Senate. Maybe I had it in the back of my mind that I'd someday run for president, but nobody from a state like mine had ever been elected.

Oprah: I love what you write, in an autobiographical essay you included, at age 16: "I am a person motivated and influenced by so many diverse forces I sometimes question the sanity of my existence. I am a living paradox—deeply religious, yet not as convinced of my exact beliefs as I ought to be.... I, in my attempts to be honest, will not be the hypocrite I hate... [while] endeavoring in such earnest to be a man...." When I was 16, I was just trying to get a date with Anthony Otey!

Clinton: Pretty dark essay.

Oprah: It's profound.

Clinton: I just try to tell the truth.

Oprah: Have you become the man you've endeavored to be?

Clinton: No. That's a lifetime journey. Every day mirrors the act of creation. Each morning you have to get up and create all over again. The building is never done. If I'm lucky enough to live to be 80, and you come back and ask me that question again, I'd still say no. But I feel better today than I ever have. In some ways, I'm having more fun than I've ever had. I'm still learning.

Oprah: You write that whether you're a good man will be up to God to judge. But if you had to answer that question for yourself today, what would you say?

Clinton: I'm not as good as my biggest fans believe nor nearly as bad as my enemies suspect. I think I have a good heart. And I mean well. I'm just trying to get better.

Oprah: When I watched Sidney Poitier accept the Academy Award in 1963, I thought, "If a colored man can do that, I wonder what I can do?" I read your passage about hearing Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech and weeping. What did you feel in that moment?

Clinton: I was overwhelmed by the picture Dr. King painted: Someday on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and sons of former slave owners will sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I thought, "That's what America, communities, the world ought to be like." I still remember the chair I sat in—an old-fashioned white leather reclining chair. I sat there by myself in the den and just wept. In that speech, Dr. King painted a picture of [what he called] the beloved community. That's what I wanted to do—to put things together, make it better for people.

Oprah: You write that it's one thing to know of the presidency, another to be president. When were you able to wrap your brain around the fullness and depth of the idea: I am president of the United States?

Clinton: For me, it happened in stages. I first came to grips with it after the election, when I began making decisions during the transition. The second stage came when I was given the military codes. I realized that in a couple of hours, I'd actually have this authority. After I was inaugurated, there were a few days when I didn't feel comfortable with everybody tending to my every need. That was stage three. The fourth stage was when I realized that I had the job, and I had a high level of confidence in my decisions. I also realized I'd be required to make decisions I couldn't know whether were right or wrong until we saw the consequences.

Oprah: When do you trust your own judgment versus that of the people around you?

Clinton: Your gut has to kick in. I'll never forget what Al Gore once told me—that becoming president requires decisions at a whole different level of difficulty and complexity. I had to be prepared to go ahead and make mistakes, then put them behind me. And in the end, if you make your mistakes in good faith, and you make more good choices than bad ones, it comes out all right. In writing the book, I wanted people to understand what it feels like to be president—and how it all happens at once.

Oprah: I got it—and I wouldn't want it. There isn't enough money in the world to pay me to do that job!

Clinton: I loved it. Even on the worst days, there was always something you could do that would make a difference. I had a big, ambitious agenda—big enough to choke a horse. Every president comes in with commitments. Contrary to what many think, virtually every president has tried to do what he said he would do when he got elected. You pursue the agenda, then other things intervene. I didn't run on Somalia. I didn't run on natural disasters. Things happen that you have no control over. George Bush ran on getting rid of Saddam Hussein, not on 9/11. You have to deal with the world as it unfolds, without giving up your vision of where you want to be at the end of your term. One measure of success is the extent to which you continue to pursue your agenda while dealing with the incoming fire.

Oprah: As you know, many people will buy your book to look for your take on Monica Lewinsky and the impeachment trial. What was the most difficult part of that time for you?

Clinton: The personal aspect: What was I thinking? No matter how mad or scared I was about what else was going on, why in the wide world did I do that? And how can I make it up to everybody involved, beginning with Hillary and Chelsea, my administration, and the American people? That was by far the most difficult thing. Fighting [Kenneth] Starr and the impeachment was easy. I thought the way Monica Lewinsky was treated was outrageous—the way they put all these FBI agents on this and tried to get her to wear a wire and then denied it, and the way she and her family were abused. The way they said, you know, "We lied to the American people about Whitewater. There was never anything there. Bill Clinton never took a nickel to see the cow jump over the moon. We indicted all those innocent people to get them to lie about Bill Clinton. We've ruined Susan McDougal, and there still ain't nothing there. So thank God this is here—he finally messed up and gave us something to validate all these years of the mountainous waste of taxpayers' money and abuse of power." Fighting that was easy. What I had to work on in my own mind was not letting my sense of being on the right side of the fight get in the way of my need to examine why in the living daylights I'd done that [with Lewinsky]—and what I should do to work through it.

Oprah: Did you ever come up with a why?

Clinton: Yes, and I think you can figure it out from reading the book. I describe the costs of leading walled-off, parallel lives—which I think almost everybody does to some extent. If you had the kind of childhood I did, and you had to get up every day and put your game face on, you'd become a secret keeper like I did. Then you get into a situation where you think the world has gone mad, which is what I thought in the first two years I was president. It was crazy. We had the best record with the Congress since Lyndon Johnson, and I kept a higher percentage of my campaign promises than the previous five presidents. Yet the press was telling the American people that I hadn't done anything and that I was a faithless president who didn't keep my word. Then I think I'm being a good guy by agreeing to the special counsel, and all of a sudden I get Starr instead of a respectable Republican. Personally, I was in a worse place than I thought, and I had to unpack that, then try to make it right. I had to fight the people I'd been fighting all my life, represented by Starr and his allies in Congress, without letting that become an excuse for not dealing with the personal mistakes I'd made.

I never worry about all this stuff everybody still talks about—This is a stain. I think history will say, "Bill Clinton did the right thing to fight this impeachment. It's a good thing he won, 'cause it was wrong, and it was unjustified." After almost 140 years, we know that Congress was wrong to impeach Andrew Johnson. That, just like this, was really about politics.

Oprah: You weren't afraid of what this might do to your legacy?

Clinton: The only thing I worried about was whether the Democrats and the American people would abandon me, and I'd be forced from office. Once I realized I could win the political battle, it left me freer to focus on my personal failure and what to do about it. That was really important. I was trying to stay in the right mental framework to deal with the personal issues while also staying in battle mode. If I took the battle mode into my personal life, I wasn't going to make any progress. On the other hand, if I took the openness and vulnerability of acknowledging my mistakes and of getting better into the impeachment fight, I would have been devoured. Psychologically, it was a difficult thing, but my profoundest regrets were all personal. Not just personal to my family, but personal for letting my administration and the country down.

Oprah: Do you think if you'd admitted the truth from the beginning, there would have been a different outcome?

Clinton: My honest answer is that I don't know. The overwhelming opinion of people around me then—including people who were really mad at me—is that if I had done that, they would have run me out in the hysterical moment of the time.

Oprah: What do you think of Monica Lewinsky now?

Clinton: I don't know, because I haven't seen her in years. But I can tell you that over the months—once it was all over but before it became public—I felt terrible about what I'd done. I thought she was a really smart person who had enormous potential, who had also had some of her own challenges.

Oprah: Weren't you angry with her?

Clinton: Not once I came to understand more.

Oprah: You could go there?

Clinton: Yes. I had to get there. Angry with her for talking to Linda Tripp and all that—no.

Oprah: You weren't angry when the blue dress surfaced? You weren't like, "Damn..."

Clinton: I thought it was a bad deal. I wasn't happy about that. I thought the whole thing was so bizarre. I couldn't even believe it was so. I still don't know what that was—it was a weird deal. Anyway, what I came to understand was that, like so many people caught in any kind of personal situation, how Monica reacted to it and what she did was a logical and completely understandable outgrowth of the childhood she had.

Oprah: Really.

Clinton: I just wanted it to be all right for her, because when she was in a good place personally, she was a very smart, very perceptive person who I thought could have a really productive life. When it was all over, what I most hoped for her is that she wouldn't get in this trap you can get in: living off her 15 minutes of fame. That would keep her from becoming the person she should be.

Oprah: So when you'd see her doing commercials and profiting from it, that wasn't upsetting to you?

Clinton: No. I didn't watch.

Oprah: What was the major lesson you took from the crisis?

Clinton: You know what the Greeks said: "Those whom the gods would destroy they first make angry." In November 1995, I was mad. Workaholics like me get so involved in their work. But there is a point beyond which—and I don't care how good you are or how much stamina you have—no one can go without losing his or her fundamental sense of what ought to be done. It was a very difficult period for me. At the time, I was engaged in a great public war with the Republican Congress over the future of the country, and a private war with my old demons. I won the public fight and lost the private one.

You just have to deal with that stuff and go on. It's not the end of the world. We live in a time when our public figures' worst moments are likely to be bandied around the world. I'm no different from anybody else. An old Irish proverb says that even if the best man's faults were written on his forehead, he would put his cap over his face in shame. Once I got that, it was liberating. Some people think, "Gosh, if I got humiliated like that in front of billions, I'd want to stick my head in an oven." I didn't feel that way. I felt, This is great—I have nothing more to hide. Now everybody knows I'm not perfect. I can just be who I am and try to make my life better and do my job the best I can. I don't have to pretend anymore.

Oprah: We all remember that photograph of you, Chelsea, and Hillary walking across the lawn to the helicopter. What were you thinking in that moment?

Clinton: I was thinking, "I've got to just keep putting one foot in front of the other." I wasn't thinking. I swear. You get in a moment like that, and it's the emotional equivalent of a beating I once took from a ram. I didn't know where I was going. I just knew I had to keep going. So I didn't want to stumble on the way to the helicopter.

Oprah: Boy, that would have been really bad. It's like, "Can you move the chopper closer?"

Clinton: Almost every person has been like that in their lives. Maybe not with that kind of problem, but with some kind of problem. You realize you can't possibly think your way through it, and you have no earthly idea how it's going to end. You just know you have two options: You can collapse and give up, or you can just keep putting one foot in front of the other and hope the clouds will clear and you'll see a way out—and meanwhile, you just try to survive.

Oprah: It's interesting that people around you said that if you'd told the truth about Monica in the beginning, you would've been thrown out. But do you think you missed a moment of spiritual, moral leadership?

Clinton: I think I missed that moment by doing what I did. There was probably a way to make it right, but I was so disoriented. At the time, I was so preconditioned by the battering I'd taken for the previous three years, and the fight I knew I was up against with Starr. If this had come out and there had been no Ken Starr and no history of what they'd done to people, I obviously would have handled it in a completely different way. If he hadn't been there, I would have told people in a respectful and nonprurient way what happened, then apologized for it and trusted that everybody would figure it out.

It's easy for people to make judgments about this now and say, "Bill Clinton should have done this, that, or the other thing." They cannot imagine. And I hope no human being reading this will ever have to experience what it was like to have somebody on you for seven years with one goal: to send you and your wife to prison or to disgrace you by making up whatever had to be made up to find whatever had to be found. They knew early on that the Whitewater thing was a total fraud. They had to know. The Resolution Trust Corporation did an honest and independent inquiry by a Republican-appointed U.S. attorney and put out the whole report in 1996. The people involved in the Whitewater thing literally covered it [the RTC inquiry] up. There wasn't 2 percent of the American people who knew I'd already been exonerated by a completely independent Republican inquiry.

Oprah: When you wrote in your Rhodes scholar essay that you wanted to have the intellectual capacity to accept the pressures of political life, did you have any idea that these kinds of attacks would be part of that?

Clinton: No. I spent a lot of time in my second term trying to figure it out. I kept asking, "Why is this happening?" I realized that part of the attack was an outgrowth of the rise of the religious and militantly antigovernment political Right in reaction to the sixties. They really disliked me. Part of it was they thought they had a formula for defeating Democrats, and I beat it and got elected. But part of it is that our country is at its fourth big turning point in history, when we have to redefine the terms of our union—how we'll relate to each other and to the rest of the world. Every time this has happened before when the future was in doubt, when the battle had been joined and not resolved, politics were more personal. The only real parallel for what I went through—other than during McCarthyism—was in the early days of the Republic. After George Washington left, the terms of our union were not defined. We were basically unified by what we were against, which was British domination. Then we had to decide, "What are we for? What does the United States mean?" The two big questions we had to decide were whether we'd be a national or a state economy, and whether we'd have a national legal system. Once we resolved those questions, we had 40 years of calm in politics. There were still big debates. Mistakes were still made, and good things were done. But from 1800 to 1840, we were a stable country politically.

Clinton (continued): There have always been a conservative and a liberal party, and we've fought like the devil. Eisenhower despised Joe McCarthy. We've had all this political fighting, but there was a consensus that minimized the politics of personal destruction. Toward the end of the seventies, that began unraveling. You had the rise of the religious Right, the rise of the militant antitax amendment in California. Reagan was basically the first post–industrial age president because he argued that we have a new economy and that government is the problem. We tried it their way for 12 years; we tried it my way for eight years. People agreed with my way; we had a 50-50 election [in 2000], and they didn't win by enough to stay out of the Supreme Court. This next election might well create a new consensus.

Oprah: You think?

Clinton: It could. If it does, we'll look back and say, "This was a 24-year fight." History will judge me and everybody else in larger historical terms. Did we expand the definition of a union? Did we deepen the meaning of freedom? That's the way it works.

Oprah: Will we get beyond partisanship for partisanship's sake?

Clinton: Yes.

Oprah: You write eloquently about a lot of things, but particularly about leaving the White House.

Clinton: I loved the job. If there hadn't been a two-term limit, I'd probably make the people throw me out! In the curious way that history twists and turns— because of the circumstances of my upbringing, my exposure to black people, my sympathy for poor people, my understanding of the plight of working people, my personal problems, my growing up in a violent home—I think I was well suited psychologically to serve at the moment in history when I did.

The extent to which I can do things because I was president—concentrated in areas that I think matter—is still pretty significant. Though I'm interested in the White House, I don't sit around and miss it.

Oprah: But isn't it a big comedown to leave—psychologically, emotionally?

Clinton: Oh, yes. I was disoriented for a month or two after I left office 'cause nobody played a song when I entered the room. I now wait on the runways and sit in New York City traffic. That's when you know you don't matter anymore!

Oprah: What's been the hardest adjustment?

Clinton: I never lost my thrill at the honor of living in the White House. I never lost my belief in the possibility of the American people to meet any challenge. I can honestly tell you that I was more idealistic and more optimistic about the possibilities of our country on the day I left than I was the day I arrived. For me, it wasn't a comedown as it might have been for some people, because look where my life was before. I've enjoyed every part of my life. The first two years I was out of office, I was millions of dollars in debt because of my legal bills and because we had to get homes here [in New York] and in Washington. I worked like crazy. I went to 24 countries my first year out of office, 33 countries my second year. I set up this foundation [the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation]. And along the way, I got to read more books, play more golf, have dinner with my friends.

Oprah: Would Hillary Clinton make a good president?

Clinton: If she ever ran and won, she would be superb. She's a very good senator, as you see. She's got a remarkable ability to combine her vast knowledge of public policy with a human touch and extraordinary decision-making, leadership, and management skills. She was always better organized than me. She has skills I don't have.

Oprah: Now that you're at home and she's out there, how does it feel to you?

Clinton: It feels great.

Oprah: Really?

Clinton: You've got to understand, I never in my life begrudged anyone else his or her success. And I never thought that my success in life depended on holding somebody else back.

Oprah: In the book, you say you vacillated about whether to marry Hillary, because you loved her, but you also wanted the best for her.

Clinton: I did. I was terrified that it would not be good for her...

Oprah: To come to Arkansas.

Clinton: Yes. She always thought I was nuts. She said, "I'm too hardheaded. I'm too this, too that. I love public policy but I never want to run for office." And I always thought she was nuts. I said, "You just don't have any idea how good you are at this." So when she wanted to run for the Senate, I was thrilled.

Oprah: And if she wanted to run for president, would you be thrilled?

Clinton: I would be. But she really didn't want to run this time. She didn't think it was right for her, for the country, or for the Democrats. She thought, "I just came to New York. I'm going to prove I mean what I said—I'm going to serve the six years." But of course we hope that John Kerry will be elected, and you know if he wins, eight years from now she'd still be more than young enough to run. Fifty other people will have emerged by then, so it may or may not ever work out. But I'm just saying, if she ever did run and serve, she would be extraordinary. And of course she would have the benefit of two experiences I didn't have. One is all the years in the Senate; the other is the years we spent in the White House.

Oprah: What is your dream for yourself?

Clinton: I just hope I can keep finding ways to have a real impact and to do what I think should be done, both here and around the world. Every day I learn something else. I'm never bored.

Oprah: So these stories about you trying to find your bearings...

Clinton: That's total bull. I'm having the best time. I loved being president, and I would have done it till I dropped. But I know what the Constitution says. And I was mentally ready to go when I had to go.

Oprah: What is your dream for your country?

Clinton: I hope my country will resolve this long, raging debate about the nature of politics and the purpose of government in favor of a more perfect union. It's obvious: We ought to be trying to come together more, think more about the future and not just about the present. And we ought to be reaching out to the rest of the world more. Whatever happens in this election, I think that will happen because there really is no alternative. All of human history, ever since the first humanoids stood up on the African savanna, is the story of human beings going from isolation to interdependence to community—in a constant race against the impulse to destroy one another. America has had the great fortune to lead that movement for more than 50 years, and I think we will continue. That is my dream for us.

Bill Clinton's website is .


Next Story