My rating: 5 of 5 stars
At nearly 1,000 pages, this book is a monster to read, but boy, am I glad I did! First of all, I love Bill Clinton, I’ve got to be honest. He was, is, and will always be my favorite president. That said, I was curious how he would describe his life and is on goings in the White House and before.
He starts with his childhood and writes an exhaustive account of his life up until Bush takes over for him. He spends a great deal of time early on discussing religion and his spirituality, both of which seem extremely important to him. (He’s Methodist.) He also spends a lot of time on the Vietnam War and his not going over to fight. He explains that he really struggled with that decision, and although I already knew this, he acknowledges that he joined the ROTC to fulfill his military duty before backing out to finish out his Fulbright scholarship at Oxford. He was plainly torn.
His description of meeting and courting Hillary is truly interesting, and it seems clear to me that he really does love her very much, as well as Chelsea. Both women are mentioned extensively in this book.
Clinton could have taken a lot of pot shots at the jerks who consistently attacked him and tried to ruin his life ever since he was elected governor of Arkansas, but he’s a bit of a gentleman and goes easy on most. He does display his scorn for Kenneth Starr, who in my opinion, is one of the most evil men of the twentieth century and who should burn in hell for the suffering he caused countless people. What a vindictive asshole! Clinton also does have some hard words to say about the hard Right, with whom he was constantly at war for the last six years of his presidency. It’s amazing to me still how much he was able to accomplish with all of the attacks on his character and presidency.
If you’re after juicy gossip, though, you won’t find it here. He denies any role with Flowers or Paula Jones and while admitting to the Monica disaster, he limits its inclusion in the book while apologizing to all for his poor decisions.
There are a couple of passages that really stood out for me. The first one reads,
“Although I would always regret what I had done wrong, I will go to my grave being proud of what I had fought for in the impeachment battle, my last great showdown with the forces I had opposed all of my life — those who defended the old order of racial discrimination and segregation in the South and played on the insecurities and fears of the white working class in which I grew up; who had opposed the women’s movement, the environmental movement, the gay-rights movement, and other efforts to expand our national community as assaults on the natural order; who believed government should be run for the benefit of powerful entrenched interests and favored tax cuts for the wealthy over health care and better education for children.”
Wow! Fast forward to 2013 and it doesn’t sound like much as changed, does it? The Republicans are still trying to oppose the very same things and advance the very same tired agenda.
Later, he writes about some of the things I loved about his presidency in writing about his 1999 State of the Union Address.
“My last State of the Union address was a joy to deliver. We had more then twenty million new jobs, the lowest unemployment rate and smallest welfare rolls in thirty years, the lowest crime rate in twenty-five years, the lowest poverty rate in twenty years, the smallest federal workforce in forty years, the first back-to-back surpluses in forty-two years, seven years of declining teen pregnancies and a 30 percent increase in adoptions, and 150,000 young people who had served in AmericCorps. Within a month we would have the longest economic expansion in American history, and by the end of the year we would have three consecutive surpluses for the first time in more than fifty years.”
Again, wow! And why did people hate such a wonderful president? Of course, the real tragedy is Bush came in and decimated everything, rolling back social expansions, international friendships, and financial gains and starting a three TRILLION dollar war in Iraq (I’m reading on a book on this right now) we couldn’t pay for and had to borrow to finance, thus practically bankrupting the country for years to come. Bush needs to be tried for crimes against humanity for what he did to hundreds of thousands of civilians in Iraq in his deceitful and failed attempts to establish democracy and control oil. If only Clinton were back in office. Obama is better than having the far right Republicans in office, certainly, but he’s no Clinton. Perhaps Hillary will save us in 2016. One can only hope. This was a fascinating book to read and if you’re not too frightened by its size and want to learn about American politics in the 1990s, it’s a great book to read. I strongly recommend it.