Friday, December 18, 2009

Clinton v. Starr, The Final Round-up


From Random House, a new book on Ken Starr's infamous battle with Bill Clinton over propriety,

Ten years after one of the most polarizing political scandals in American history, author Ken Gormley offers an insightful, balanced, and revealing analysis of the events leading up to the impeachment trial of President William Jefferson Clinton. From Ken Starr’s initial Whitewater investigation through the Paula Jones sexual harassment suit to the Monica Lewinsky affair, The Death of American Virtue is a gripping chronicle of an ever-escalating political feeding frenzy.

In exclusive interviews, Bill Clinton, Ken Starr, Monica Lewinsky, Paula Jones, Susan McDougal, and many more key players offer candid reflections on that period. Drawing on never-before-released records and documents—including the Justice Department’s internal investigation into Starr, new details concerning the death of Vince Foster, and evidence from lawyers on both sides—Gormley sheds new light on a dark and divisive chapter, the aftereffects of which are still being felt in today’s political climate.

35 comments:

  1. First there was The Death of Outrage, now The Death of American Virtue. That's a lot of death.

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  2. I still maintain that the right went after Clinton because he just wasn't the right class to aspire to such high office -- just like they are going after Obama now because (I think) of his race.

    Then, of course, as smart as he was, Clinton had to go and give them something to work with. Terrible waste of talent and opportunity when you think of it.

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  3. I'm just wondering at the size of this book -- 800 pages. Does one really need that much information on all of Clinton's shortfalls and acts of contrition?

    I wasn't a very big fan of Clinton, but compared to Reagan and the Bushes he was FDR. He created more jobs in his two terms than these Republicans created in five terms. His net increases in the labor force during his two terms were the highest of any president since such records have been kept.

    But, he is probably most remembered for his "affair" with Monica.

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  4. Scandal sells. And apparently enough time has passed that people are willing to talk.

    I'm sure I supported someone else in the primaries -- was that Jesse Jackson's first run? -- but voted twice for Clinton because I liked his friend Robert Reich and then because I liked his wife. Seemed like she really wanted to accomplish something during her husband's presidency.

    Those were good years generally for the country and certainly MUCH better from what preceded and followed, but Clinton's presidency still seems in retrospect like a missed opportunity. But he did pass quite a bit of environmental legislation, some of which GW couldn't undo.

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  5. The title of the book puts me off. I think it would be too painful to read. I was offended by all the hypocritical adulterers who condemned Clinton back then -- politicians and people I know.

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  6. Grateful as I was for the Clinton admin. Family and Medical Leave Act, which made it possible for me to spend my dad's last weeks with him without worrying about losing my job, and as much as I admire other work from that time, I was still so disappointed that Clinton, as smart as he was, didn't realize that there is no more privacy (ooops, did I add another "death"?) as well as miscalculating the animosity of those who hated him. However, I don't know if "class" was as much a factor as avrds suggests--can you describe more what you mean?

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  7. Clinton came from the wrong side of the tracks. He grew up with a mother and a brother who would never have been invited into polite society. Certainly not good Republican society. He was too loud, played the saxaphone (sort of), a loud brassy instrument, ate Big Macs, pizzas and donuts, and seemed to feel right at home hanging out with everyday folks -- even black people. Just not the sort of person the conservatives wanted fouling the furniture in the White House.

    I think he was doomed from the moment he was elected. Sadly, as smart as he was, it didn't save him from walking right into their trap (and I do think the perjury question falls into entrapment since they already knew the answer to that question).

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  8. I agree Avrds and I think it was also a Southern thing.He was poor white trash and all those genteel Southern Repubs were put off by it.It was the old white south rising up against someone who didn't know his place.

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  9. Hard to think of someone who went to Georgetown, Oxford and Yale as poor white trash. He struck me as a good ol' Southern boy, susceptible to certain proclivities.

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  10. Yes, but as noted, it was his origins that were held against him. That and the fact that he was a good ol' Southern boy. He just wasn't "one of us." (Or, he was, depending on who is judging.) For some reason, this rising above your class is only good for the nouveau super riche, not those who aspire to the presidency.

    Funny how just the opposite, though, was used against Kerry. He was an easy mark for being too elite. But that was more of a political thing.

    As for GW, he had the class thing figured out. Upper, upper class Connecticut cutting brush on his Texas ranch. What a guy.

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  11. I don't think it was so much his "origins" that were held against him, as it was his liberal streak. After all, other Southern conservative politicians had pretty much the same upbringing. The South is stratified more along political and religious lines than it is class lines.

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  12. There was something so personal, though, in the way they went after Clinton. Maybe his politics betrayed his region, but the attacks didn't seem as political as, for the example, the way they attacked Kerry. Sadly, he eventually gave them a lot to work with on that front.

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  13. In many ways Bill was seen as an usurper by the Republicans. He had broken their hold on the White House, which they felt was their's for atleast 4 more years, during which time they hoped to radically reshape the Supreme Court with their appointees. But, I think they have H.W. more to blame for that in running such a lackluster campaign.

    Bill outflanked the Republicans on their Contract with America as well, notably the notorious Crime Bill. I think a lot of Republicans felt Bill had hijacked their agenda. He was also the first President since Ike to put forward a balanced budget, not traditionally seen as a Democratic concern, although Carter also came pretty close to balanacing the budget.

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  14. Republicans had the White House for 12 years and they thought they were entitled to it. Many people didn't even support Bush I, yet they were shocked when Clinton won the election. I do see a parallel between then and now -- they hate whoever is in office if they are not Republican. They HATE Democrats and they like to make up silly stories about them.

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  15. "As for GW, he had the class thing figured out. Upper, upper class Connecticut cutting brush on his Texas ranch. What a guy."

    The first part of that might apply to Bush the elder but nothing about W spoke of upper class to me, especially after I saw a documentary in which Bush, after a defeat, got 'ligion of the fundamentalist variety (maybe to get help with substance abuse issues or when he became aware of the political power available thereto, or both) and swore he'd "never be out-Bubba'ed again."

    So Clinton got called a "bubba" and good ole boy while W got "frat boy" label. Go figure.

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  16. Re the above, where do you folks put Southerner Jimmy Carter in this spectrum?

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  17. Seems most Republicans, and Southerners in particular, despise Carter. I think in large part because he actually has a moral purpose.

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  18. NY, I agree with you about GW. He was a fake man of the people -- that's what I meant by figuring it out. Born with a silver spoon in his mouth that he used to play around with in the dirt. The guy was a cheerleader for heavens sake! Talk about fooling the people all of the time.

    I heard a comedian joke that Carl Rove said it was okay for him to now dump the ranch and move back to Dallas. It was like an image thing, as GW might say.

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  19. I imagine Laura got sick of the "ranch" thing, and wanted to go back to the city. Bush is also negotiating his "library" with SMU.

    On another note, it was interesting to read that it was John Q. Adams who started the idea of a Presidential Library, or at least his grandson Charles did. Can't remember which.

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  20. You strike the perfect note in your comments, rick. They also don't seem to like the idea that Carter promotes affordable housing and encourages people to participate in these efforts out of the goodness of their heart.

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  21. Face it, Republicans hate people, especially Democrats.

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  22. Excellent post on Jimmy Carter Rick!

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  23. It's a safe bet I'm the only southerner visiting this blog.

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  24. I pretty much grew up in the South. The Redneck Riviera, as they called the panhandle of Florida, moving there when I was 6.

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  25. Gintaras: Please remove my Jimmy Carter post ASAP. I am using some of the language in a not yet published newspaper column I've written. Thanks.

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  26. Rick, I got it for you.

    Should be a great column. Be sure to give us a link.

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  27. By the way, I think you can remove your own posts. Once you sign into the site, you should see a small trash can under your posts. Not that I encourage you to use that often, but it's there if you ever need it.

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  28. At one time I was able to delete my posts but not anymore.

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  29. Wait a minute, now there is a little trash can there. I could have sworn it wasn't there this morning. Whatever. Thanks.

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  30. I think you have to sign in first.

    Should be an interesting column.

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  31. Well the editor I work with at the AJC turned the column down. Thought it would insult too many readers. Said I was calling all southerners racists. Not true at all, but the conservatives are pretty thin-skinned in these parts, and the Atlanta paper has been hemorrhaging subscribers big time in recent years. Instead he is going to run a column I wrote on celebrity and privacy. (Yes, Tiget Woods is mentioned.)

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  32. Too bad! Probably struck too close to home. Maybe you should submit it somewhere else -- a paper up north maybe?

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  33. I'm thinking about doing that. But it's pretty tough to get an Op/Ed editor's attention.

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  34. Drat! I asked about views of Carter but didn't get back in time for Rick's, so will reiterate the hope expressed above that when such appears in whatever form that there will be a link.

    (It is in very poor taste to say so, but sometimes assessments or re-assessments of a president occur upon their demise. Should I avail myself of the delete function?)

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