Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Travel Notes President May Be off Duty, but He Remains on Guard

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Travel Notes President May Be off Duty, but He Remains on Guard

Article excerpt

Keeping track of a vacationing president's off-duty doings can give Americans rare insights about the man they usually see only in an official capacity.

Take Bill Clinton's week of rest in Arkansas and on this resort island off the eastern seaboard, for instance.

Folks were pretty tight-lipped about what the president said during his only official appearance, an off-the-record talk at the Renaissance Weekend conclave on the topic of "What I've Learned."

But the nation did get to know more about the private side of its chief executive as the vagabond vacationer visited old haunts in Arkansas and South Carolina: He's vain. He's a good listener. He's energetic. He's proud.

Clinton got in one last round of golf Sunday before returning to Washington in late afternoon to face a long agenda of work, still a little sore from a touch football game on the beach two days earlier. "Those kids beat me up pretty good," he groaned.

In the meantime, Americans learned that this man is a creature of habit. This was Clinton's 10th consecutive appearance at the annual Renaissance retreat, an invitation-only gathering featuring social events and panel discussions on personal and social issues.

Despite all the talk about Clinton spending his vacation at an organized gabfest, he spent more time golfing than anything else, and conference organizers said that was just fine with them.

"He does what he wants to do," said organizer Linda Lader. "We all need to have that getaway, and time for recreation and laughter."

The lack of public events notwithstanding, Clinton was frequently in the public eye. Here's a little of what America learned about its president as it watched him flit about.

He flosses. Yes, America, dentist John Hartley told the president he had done a "beautiful" job with his brushing and flossing, Clinton reported after a checkup at a storefront office in Little Rock. …

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