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Bill Clinton turns 60

The birthday celebration will, however, reach its climax with the Rolling Stones' performance on October 29 in Manhattan's Beacon Theatre.

india Updated: Aug 19, 2006 13:20 IST

Bill Clinton is a master of self-invention. Nearly every American knows the photograph of the star-struck 16-year-old youth, worshipfully shaking the hand of president John F. Kennedy - symbolic of his teenage dream to live in the White House someday.

Nearly six years after the end of his spectacular presidency, Clinton is still mining the suggestive power of photographs.

His picture is everywhere - at the AIDS conference in Toronto with Bill Gates, in Southeast Asia with the elder president George Bush visiting the tsunami devastation, and soon, at a private concert with the rock idol of the 1960s - the Rolling Stones.

Bill Clinton turns 60 on Saturday, but the celebration will only reach its climax with the Stones' performance on October 29 in Manhattan's Beacon Theatre - three days after Senator Hillary Clinton's 59th birthday.

Between now and then, Clinton will roll out a series of events that will not only boost his fame and public image - but also make money for his good-deeds foundation that has brokered cheaper AIDS medications, clean air agreements and an anti-obesity programme in US schools.

In many ways, it's typical of how the US baby boom generation is entering retirement - rockin', rollin', and still on the move without a thought of sitting in a rockin' chair.

But for Clinton, turning 60 is harder than it looks.

"I hate it, but it's true," Clinton said at the world AIDS conference in Toronto earlier this week. "For most of my working life, I was the youngest person doing what I was doing. Then one day I woke up and I was the oldest person in every room."

Clinton has led a charmed life, despite the public controversy over his love affairs.

As the country's 42nd president, Clinton reaped the profits of the world economic boom as Eastern Europe disentangled from the Soviet Union and started to thrive.

Clinton, however, provoked bitterness among his enemies - the political and religious right wing.

The liberal, life-loving politician was charged with abuse of office and questionable womanising affairs when he was governor of Arkansas, and the nickname "Slick Willy" stuck.

Finally, his affair with the White House intern Monica Lewinsky became a fait accompli of sorts. He only narrowly dodged being removed from office for false testimony before Congress.

But despite even those hurdles, Clinton has sailed through to popularity.

Soon, Clinton often hints, he may even start a second political career. That at least is the message from jokes about his becoming the country's "First Gentleman" - a play on the idea of his role if wife Hillary were elected president in 2008.

But playing second fiddle would not be easy for Clinton, if it comes to that.

First Published: Aug 19, 2006 13:20 IST