Clinton to Take Oath Of Office Noon Today

Entertainers Perform in His Honor

WASHINGTON--Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton will assume the presidency at noon today, after he is sworn in by Chief Justice William Rehnquist on the steps of the Capitol.

Clinton, who arrived here Sunday with Vice President-elect Al Gore '69, has spent the last days of his transition, balancing the populism, pageantry and policy-overload that characterized his campaign.

Early yesterday, Clinton paid his respects at the gravesites of two of his generation's martyrs--and two of the president-elect's most valued role models--John F. Kennedy '40 and Robert F. Kennedy' 4 8.

Joined by 20 members of the Kennedy family, including Sen. Edward M. Kennedy '54-'56 (D-Mass.) and Rep. Joseph Kennedy II (D-Mass.), the president was granted a rare moment of silence by pool reporters as he paused before the eternal flame lit when John Kennedy was killed in 1963.

Clinton ended his last day as "just plain Bill" at the Capital Center in suburban Maryland, where Urethra Franklin, Chevy Chase and Michael Bolton performed in his honor.


If the president-elect was enjoying the end of three days of celebration, however, there was no forgetting the importance of the job he was about to undertake. Secret Service cordoned off entire blocks around inaugural events and enormous crowds followed Clinton's every move.

The Arkansas Governor also met with national security advisors yesterday, preparing for his first real test as commander-in-chief of the U.S. armed forces.

After additional U.S. air strikes on Iraq this week made it clear that the new administration will be beset with at least one foreign policy crisis, Clinton reaffirmed his support for outgoing President Bush's military policy in an address to the diplomatic corps at Georgetown University.

Clinton's inauguration will mark the first since that of Richard M. Nixon in 1969 that an incoming commander-in-chief has been required to make immediate and crucial strategic decisions in that capacity.

This attention to foreign policy threatens to put a damper on Clinton's plans to concentrate on domestic issues. Nevertheless, a Washington Post-ABC News poll this week found that a majority of Americans expect the new president to make "substantial" progress on a number of thorny policy areas, including health care re- form, the environment, the federal deficit,AIDS and race relations.

Clinton's famous talent--and weakness--fortreading a delicate line between conflictinginterest groups has been in full display in thecapitol.

Packaging a president-elect is not as easy aspackaging a candidate--especially when the"outsider" crosses inside the Beltway to take uppermanent residence.

But in balancing their man's time between jogsdown Pennsylvania Avenue and black tie affairswith fat cat democrats, Clinton's team is showingoff triumphantly the keen instincts which won theelection.

The real test will come in today's inauguraladdress, however. Speculation has centered on howlong the notoriously verbose Clinton will speak,but more important is the tone and properties thespeech may set for the administration.

Tonight's official balls--all 11 of them--havebeen the object of the most earnest scrambling fortickets. Outside the offices of the CollegeDemocrats of America yesterday, nearly a dozenstudents packed the lobby seeking tickets to the"youth ball." Those older and with more money willpay more, but won't necessarily escape the hassle.

In an interview on C-SPAN, Harry Thomason,co-chair of Clinton's inaugural, admitted that hewould likely spend most of the week apologizing tohis superstar friends who lost tickets due tocomputer error, human oversight, purposefulslight, or all of the above.

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