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Posts Tagged ‘Bill Clinton’

A Review of The Survivor

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 20, 2013

The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White HouseThe Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House by John Furby Harris

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I hate this book and I despise the author. I couldn’t believe, when looking through the Goodreads reviews, how many people call this book “balanced.” I think it’s anything but. I think it’s a hatchet job on a great man, Bill Clinton, my favorite president of all time. I admit to being biased, but I’ve read several Clinton books and none were as unflattering as this one. I couldn’t even finish it! I couldn’t even get past the second chapter! Virtually every page is stocked with loaded language designed to make the reader look down on Clinton (and his wife). Examples:

Page X: He talks about Clinton’s “capacity for drama” and his “usual … swirling cloud of last-minute chaos and indecision.”

Page XI: “Hillary Rodham Clinton … hovered over the proceedings with the discerning eye of the corporate lawyer she was.” Harris makes her out to be a Dick Cheney-like character.

Page XII: In discussing Paul Begala’s first meeting with Clinton, Harris writes “In his crush, however, he kept enough detachment to contemplate that the session had been a put-on, and what seemed like a wonderfully guileless performance actually had been a more sophisticated brand of artifice.”

Pages XIV and XV: In describing Clinton’s politics as “defensive” and his knowledge of this a very conscious one, Harris writes “Certainly he understood, with occasional remedial courses required….” Like he’s stupid…. Later, his (Arkansas) opponent “portrayed him, not unfairly, as an arrogant and unseasoned young man who was out of step with his constituents.” Harris goes on to talk some more about Clinton’s alleged “women problem.” It makes me ill.

On page XVI, Clinton is described as “maddeningly noncommittal.”

On page XVII, Harris really goes for it. He plunges right in by writing, “his marriage to Hillary Clinton was said to be in turmoil…. He was a man of vagrant sexual appetites. Every political operative or journalist with even a passing knowledge of Clinton knew it.” What a crock! Even with all of the right wing-founded rumors about Clinton’s alleged infidelities, the only one that ever had any proof associated with in was the Monica scandal. In his book, My Life, Clinton denies any involvement with Flowers or Jones and I believe him. There’s no proof anywhere. This author is stooping to tabloid journalism by bringing it up in the introduction!

On page XVIII, he “bristled over the scrutiny,” while somehow showing “indifference to the rumors.” Contradict yourself much, Harris?

The author then goes on to deride Clinton’s intelligence by writing that Hillary “was his equal or superior in intelligence” and he talks about their marriage as a “partnership” and not one based on love. Does this guy have a bone to pick or what?

On page XX!, Harris writes “Traits that would be regarded as emotionally unhealthy by conventional standards — a desperate need for human contact, or a heedlessness about persona risk — were in Clinton’s case political assets of great utility.” Later, on his intelligence again: “Yes, he was smart, but no smarter than many other politicians of his generation.” Seriously? Every book I’ve ever read about Clinton, right or left, has lauded his intelligence! The man is brilliant. Holy crap — who does this Harris guy think he is? What an asshole!

Harris shows Clinton plotting left and right while being naive at the same time. Honestly, I can’t read this book without getting violently angry. I made it to page 12 and that’s the furthest I’m going. I had high hopes for this book because of good reviews, but I’m sorry I wasted good — and a lot of — money on this stupid book. Definitely not recommended for anyone who admires the Clintons.

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A Review of My Life by Bill Clinton

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 13, 2013

My LifeMy Life by Bill Clinton

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.

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Clinton: America’s Debt Problems ‘Can’t Be Solved’ With Austerity | ThinkProgress

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 9, 2013

Clinton: America’s Debt Problems ‘Can’t Be Solved’ With Austerity | ThinkProgress.

Food for thought…

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A Review of A Complicated Man

Posted by Scott Holstad on June 11, 2012

A Complicated Man: The Life of Bill Clinton as Told by Those Who Know HimA Complicated Man: The Life of Bill Clinton as Told by Those Who Know Him by Michael Takiff

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I generally enjoyed reading this comprehensive book on Clinton, ranging from his childhood to his post-presidential years. The author had quite an undertaking, interviewing more than 170 people who knew/know him and getting insights and opinions that vary wildly, ranging from total devotion to abject hatred. I learned that Clinton’s greatest strength was perhaps his empathy toward others, followed closely by his incredibly high intellect. His weaknesses? Perhaps some arrogance. A bit of a temper. Oh, and women. Yep. There’s quite a lot about Paula Jones and Monica Lewkinsky in here. Perhaps a bit too much, but that’s just my opinion. I’ll be honest. I’m a huge Clinton fan. I think he’s the best president I’ve seen in my 45 years on earth. He oversaw an amazing time during American history, presiding over the greatest economic boom ever. He sought Middle East peace accords, fixed the Bosnia and Kosovo crises, enacted controversial welfare reform, and so much more. I love the man. So it hurt me when I saw some of the really overly dramatic criticisms leveled at him by haters. Some people just genuinely hate him more than anyone on earth and make no bones about it. While the book is fairly balanced overall, I do think it spent quite a bit of time on his weaknesses and failings and not enough time on his successes, but as I said, I’m biased. I would have given this book five stars, but the final few chapters encompassing his post-presidential years basically trash him to hell and back and that really pissed me off royally. Very jaded. It ends with a couple of questions and an odd statement: “Can he overcome his outsized flaws so that his outsized talents can work to maximum effect? … Maybe now Bill Clinton will finally live up to his potential.” I didn’t like that. So Clinton didn’t end a world war. That’s really not his fault, and yet that’s actually held against him in this book. He never fulfilled his potential because there was not a major war or depression to fix — this is actually said in the book. That irks the hell out of me! He did a damn good job under the worst possible personal circumstances with a rabid Republican Congress and hateful media out to destroy him daily. I admire him for that. So, anyway, overall a pretty good read, yes, but like I said, the final few chapters leave me with a sour taste in my mouth. Pity.

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