Sunday, September 27, 2009

Keeping up with Clinton

“The Clinton Tapes” will stand as an important work about American political life because of two dominant themes that emerge gradually — one about the man himself and the other about the nature of the current era. Clinton was a president who believed that government could help people live happier, more satisfying lives, and that America could help solve intractable issues like the Middle East crisis. He immersed himself in these issues, worked hard at them. His grasp of details — and his insights into the motivations of others — is breathtaking. As president, he proved a rare combination of fervent politician and devoted policy wonk. Some of my favorite passages in this book describe Clinton’s assessment of other politicians, from Bob Dole to Benjamin Netanyahu.
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from the book review. I guess the book is for those who wish they were a fly on the Oval Office wall during the Clinton administration, but interestingly Taylor Branch didn't have access to the tapes while writing the book.

10 comments:

  1. I still haven't gotten around to reading Blumenthal's book on Clinton, which appears to have covered much of the same ground.

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  2. This looks interesting, but he didn't have access to the tapes to write the book?

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  3. That's what the article noted. Apparently Bill has kept the tapes under lock and key ever since they were made, although he used them for his own book.

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  4. Fresh Air (Terri Gross) interview with Taylor Branch that aired today:

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113269412&ft=1&f=13

    The audio should be available shortly. I heard a little of it on the radio just now.

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  5. I listened to that interview and was reminded once again how very much Mr. Clinton disappointed me. I know Whitewater was a nothing made into something and it and Clinton's peckerdilloes were used by the right, but anyone as bright as he should surely should have known there was no such thing as privacy by that time? When Branch stated how Clinton felt sorry for himself, I threw up my hands. I'm probably overestimating how much could have been accomplished had he not given the opposition so much ammunition, but I get exasperated at the thought of the man.

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  6. Clinton seemed unable to control his emotions. I remember his outburst during the 92 primaries when Jackson toyed around with entering the race, being unimpressed with the "six pack" as they were called then. This after Clinton poure out his heart on 60 Minutes about the affairs he had and didn't have (namely Gennifer Flowers or however she spells her name) with Hillary sitting beside him.

    But, Lewinski really took the cake, especially when it was revealed how ugly it all was. Kenneth Starr must have really enjoyed himself compiling that dossier. But, in the end, one has to ask if it is really necessary being made aware of these details. Look how long persons have been able to fan the embers of Jefferson's purported affair with Sally Hemings, claiming she was underage when it started.

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  7. I think that the press coverage from the day that the "news" broke of Lewinsky early in that year to the impeachment itself (and especially Ken Starr's antics) were worse than the affair itself. Of course, Clinton should have known better.

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  8. I would agree. But, of course one has to wonder what the hell Bill was thinking to get involved with an intern like this. Good thing twitter hadn't yet been invented.

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  9. Talk about a "tweet"!

    (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

    I'm off to Yellowstone for the rest of the week and I don't think I have internet access at the ranch where I'm staying. It's one of the bi-annual history meetings I like to attend, this one with Stanford on economic history. I'll check back in next week if not before.

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  10. "Good thing twitter hadn't yet been invented."

    Amen, but it was just as bad, thanks to Linda Tripp and the media, including the NY Times. When the story broke early in that year, I heard the phrase "scandal SWIRLING around President Clinton" far too many times.

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