On 28 January, Bill Clinton delivered his eighth and last state of the Union address, the longest and by all odds the most upbeat for many, many years. Only the previous day, newspapers carried the result of the Iowa party caucuses, the opening shot in the campaign to succeed him.
Clinton, and the presidency, had made a remarkable recovery. Only a year before, Clinton, actually impeached by the House of Representatives, faced a Senate trial that could have brought his term in office to a humiliating close. And the presidency, as an institution, looked back on more than three decades of frustration, declining power and occasional disaster.