saving a week of your life from Bill Clinton
June 23, 2004 12:32 PM   Subscribe

The Condensed Bill Clinton: Slate reads My Life so you don't have to.
posted by reklaw (41 comments total)

 
Shorter review: The Big Dog Still Rocks!
posted by nofundy at 12:41 PM on June 23, 2004


Page 197: "I was so exhausted I fell asleep while the stripper was dancing and the goat head was looking up at me."

If I didn't have to read it before, I do now.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 12:42 PM on June 23, 2004


Daddy, daddy! read me a book before I go sleepie. "Once upon a time there was a guy named William .....
posted by Postroad at 1:00 PM on June 23, 2004


Page 166: While in Amsterdam, Clinton declines to visit a prostitute.

Did anyone other than me read that as "decides to visit" at first? And were you totally not surprised?
posted by ChrisTN at 1:03 PM on June 23, 2004


Page 879: On a visit to Italy, the actor Roberto Benigni leaps into Clinton's arms and shrieks, "I love you!"

Something tells me this was also investigated by Ken Starr.
posted by nathan_teske at 1:35 PM on June 23, 2004


( - this is so great - thanks reklaw)

Of Special Interest to Freudians


Page 14: "Hillary says the first time she ever saw me, I was in the Yale Law School lounge bragging to skeptical fellow students about the size of Hope watermelons."

posted by lilboo at 1:45 PM on June 23, 2004


Thanks, Slate, but I'll read the book fer myownself when it arrives from Amazon. I appreciate the effort to reduce a 956-page book into one web page, though.
posted by Holden at 1:52 PM on June 23, 2004


That's not Freudian at all. Hope Watermelons are slang for, well... uh, you figure it out.
posted by psmealey at 1:53 PM on June 23, 2004


Page 742: Strom Thurmond, 94, tells Chelsea, "If I were 70 years younger, I'd court you!"

ewwwww....
posted by togdon at 2:11 PM on June 23, 2004


Page 743: Strom Thurmond, 94, tells Chelsea, "If I were 70 years younger, I'd GIVE ME YOUR ORGANS! BRAIIIIIINNNNNSSSSSSSSS...."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:22 PM on June 23, 2004


I had thought this was a book I didn't need to read, but Slate's excerpts actually serve to pique my interest.
posted by kjh at 2:25 PM on June 23, 2004


"In politics, if you don't toot your own horn, it usually stays untooted."

Ahem....
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:31 PM on June 23, 2004


...At an early administration retreat at Camp David, "we were supposed to bond by sitting in a group, taking turns telling something about ourselves others didn't know." Clinton reveals he was mocked for being chubby as a child. Lloyd Bentsen and Robert Rubin refuse to participate.

So reminiscent of the all the dot-com offsite team-building bullshit that we did in the 90s. Good for Bentsen and Rubin, I thought that kind of stuff as undignified as well. If you want to bond, get a bottle of Wild Turkey and bond over that.
posted by psmealey at 2:36 PM on June 23, 2004


I thought it was better when it was called My struggle.
posted by Veritron at 2:54 PM on June 23, 2004


i've seen this on the news, they're hyping it a lot (the book), but in a weird back-handed way. They're constanly harping on how long it is. Whenever someone mentions it, they never fail to mention it's length, how do people feel about reading such a long book, etc. Is it really such a big deal? Do people really read so little that they're daunted by such a thing? Weird.

or it could be just the vast right-wing conspiracy.
posted by Miles Long at 2:58 PM on June 23, 2004


Probably the biggest thing his book release has made me realize is that he has remained married to the same woman for more than 25 years (it just never quite dawned on me before). To me, that's an extraordinary accomplishment.
posted by drezdn at 3:11 PM on June 23, 2004


Veritron, I must say that your comment was pretty low, petty and ...well ... just ... cheap.
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:12 PM on June 23, 2004


(In case anyone missed the *ahem* cleverness (as if), My Struggle in German is Mein Kampf. Name ring a bell?
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:18 PM on June 23, 2004


I thought Veritron's statement was inncoent and understated.
posted by trharlan at 3:19 PM on June 23, 2004


What's the relevance of 'My Struggle'? I thought it was called 'My Life'?
posted by vbfg at 3:30 PM on June 23, 2004


It's about the size of a Harry Potter book. If an 11 year old can read 1000 pages, surely a middle aged adult can.

Theres a lot of stuff in there. People need to get over the size, and just delve in.
posted by benjh at 3:50 PM on June 23, 2004


they never fail to mention it's length, how do people feel about reading such a long book, etc. Is it really such a big deal?

It has more to do with the book being long AND boring, or so they say.

Probably the biggest thing his book release has made me realize is that he has remained married to the same woman for more than 25 years. To me, that's an extraordinary accomplishment.

Are you joking? When you can cheat and your wife accepts it what kind of accomplishment is that? Being married means giving up others. Clinton never did. If marriage meant having 21 year old interns on the side the divorce rate would go down and marriages up.

Politics aside, considering their marriage an accomplishment is laughable.
posted by justgary at 3:55 PM on June 23, 2004


Politics aside, considering their marriage an accomplishment is laughable.
posted by justgary at 3:55 PM PST on June 23


try looking at it another way. They have had the most widely publicized 'marital crisis' in the land and they're still together. Isn't that an accomplishment? i doubt it's just a matter of 'she accepts it', either. Relationships are more complex than that. in the real world.

kudos to benjih for the Harry Potter ref. if kids can read that much...
posted by Miles Long at 4:22 PM on June 23, 2004


I thought Veritron's statement was inncoent and understated.

Wow, thanks for letting me know I never have to take you seriously again.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:33 PM on June 23, 2004


I doubt that Clinton's story is nearly as believeable as a Harry Potter story, though.
posted by psmealey at 5:47 PM on June 23, 2004


(rim shot)
posted by psmealey at 5:48 PM on June 23, 2004


i'm betting this is actually a great read.
posted by amberglow at 5:49 PM on June 23, 2004


try looking at it another way. They have had the most widely publicized 'marital crisis' in the land and they're still together. Isn't that an accomplishment? i doubt it's just a matter of 'she accepts it', either. Relationships are more complex than that. in the real world.

I'm sure there was/is a lot of pressure. But they also had a bigger incentive to stay together than most couples, being in public service.

Every marriage is different. I just think looking at their marriage as some giant accomplishment is a huge stretch, especially when you look at Bill Clinton's side.

i'm betting this is actually a great read.

Shocking.
posted by justgary at 5:55 PM on June 23, 2004


Larry McMurty:

William Jefferson Clinton's "My Life" is, by a generous measure, the richest American presidential autobiography - no other book tells us as vividly or fully what it is like to be president of the United States for eight years. Clinton had the good sense to couple great smarts with a solid education; he arrived in Washington in 1964 and has been the nation's - or perhaps the world's - No. 1 politics junkie ever since. And he can write - as Reagan, Ford, Nixon and Lyndon B. Johnson, to go no farther back, could not.

In recent days the memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant have been raised as a stick to beat Clinton with, and why? Snobbery is why. Some people don't want slick Bill Clinton to have written a book that might be as good as dear, dying General Grant's. In their anxiety lest this somehow happen they have not accurately considered either book.

Grant's is about being a general, in what Lincoln called a big war. Clinton's is about being a president at the end of the 20th century. Grant's is an Iliad, with the gracious Robert E. Lee as Hector and Grant himself the murderous Achilles. Clinton's is a galloping, reckless, political picaresque, a sort of pilgrim's progress, lowercase. There are plenty of stout sticks to beat Clinton with, but Grant's memoirs is not one of them...

Dispatching his youth so quickly leaves very nearly 900 pages for Clinton as Political Man. Not only is politics - local, state, national, international and galactic - the heart of this book, it's also its brain, torso, liver and sweetbreads. Hillary and Chelsea visit often, but this narrative is not about family life or sex, in which area Clinton's failings are acknowledged but not extensively dwelt on. Some will want to pick and choose among the scores of mini-portraits of national and world leaders included, like Yasir Arafat and Tony Blair; and others will be equally selective about Congressional dramas and bureaucratic battles. I happen to like long, smart, dense narratives and read "My Life" straight through, happily. I may not know Bill Clinton any better than I did when I started, but I know recent history better, which surely can't hurt.

posted by y2karl at 7:00 PM on June 23, 2004


the NYT got it so wrong the first time that they commissioned another review. : >
posted by amberglow at 7:09 PM on June 23, 2004


Jerry Schwartz

None of them comes alive, not even the main characters of this badly conceived, flatly written, poorly edited book. Not Hillary Rodham Clinton, who comes off as a cardboard saint who is said to be smart and tough and good. Not special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, the book's villain, who comes off as pure evil -- not really a human being at all, more of an incubus.

And not even Bill Clinton himself. Here is one of the most fascinating figures of his time, a charismatic and brilliant man -- a fatherless boy who rose from humble beginnings to live, in his own words, "an improbable life" -- and he has produced a book that lacks anything more than the most rudimentary insights. This master politician does not even offer a single good discussion of the art of politics.

The effect is mind-numbing. It's like being locked in a small room with a very gregarious man who insists on reading his entire appointment book, day by day, beginning in 1946.

On Prince Charles and Diana: "I liked them both and wished that life had dealt them a different hand." Now there's some writing...

You dig and you dig. And in the end, it just isn't worth it.

I'm not sure what it proves to link to reviews. Back and forth, it's quite easy to find the good and the bad. But I don't think you'll find any sane person who considers his book great writing.

If you like Clinton, you'll probably enjoy the book, if you don't like him, you won't. And if you have his poster over your bed, you'll probably love it.
posted by justgary at 9:06 PM on June 23, 2004


Are you joking? When you can cheat and your wife accepts it what kind of accomplishment is that?

It's not easy to stay together through infidility, and considering that they were married for more than fifteen years before he became president, yes, I do consider it an accomplishment.

Yes, he would have been more noble if had never had an affair, but the fact that he has stuck it out is laudible.

Especially considering that he has nothing to gain by remaining married to Hillary.
posted by drezdn at 10:45 PM on June 23, 2004


bah.
it does look quite interesting, but it comes from someone as politically astute as Clinton who, by the way, will at the very least remain under the DC media spotlight as political spouse (First Gentleman?). so the book can't really be about candor -- not many surprises there, apparently.

what would _really_ be of historical value is very different:
I hope Bush ultimately finds his own Doris Kearns Goodwin to take notes during his future LBJ-like Texan self-exile, secluded in his ranch complaining about "that bitch of a war".
_that_ would be a meaty Presidential book -- much more than Clinton's ultimately self-serving (but I'm willing to concede, interesting) book.
but maybe I'm overestimating Bush's ability to reflect on his past actions. who knows

____

"considering that he has nothing to gain by remaining married to Hillary."
no, but he has to give back a little of the patience she demonstrated all these years. she didn't leave him to avoid negative political fallout. now she's the politician in the family, he has a duty to be a good soldier like she was all these years. she endured the appalling Gennifer Flowers and Monica humiliations. he certainly can avoid to divorce her as long as she's in politics, since they're already de-facto separated anyway
posted by matteo at 2:40 AM on June 24, 2004


Being married means giving up others.

Not necessarily true. Many marriages do not include this as a requirement. Just ask the most moral man in America, Bill Bennett, who likes dominatrix hookers, and his wife seems to have no problems with it.
posted by nofundy at 7:20 AM on June 24, 2004


look, not to derail, but wasn't Bennett's S/M thing still an unconfirmed rumor? I mean, I may have missed it, but I thought Bennett was -- as of now -- only a proven compulsive gambler and hypocrite. or not?
posted by matteo at 7:29 AM on June 24, 2004


i think the dominatrix thing was never proven, thought the domina herself still attests Bennett was her client.

her Tripod site is still available via Google cache.

also, i heard a great interview with Bill Clinton on Election Day 2000 on Democracy Now yesterday. it made me somewhat ashamed to have voted for him (once).
posted by mrgrimm at 12:14 PM on June 24, 2004


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posted by thomcatspike at 1:17 PM on June 24, 2004


It's not easy to stay together through infidility

And it's even harder to stay together without infidelity.

and considering that they were married for more than fifteen years before he became president, yes, I do consider it an accomplishment.

I don't think you fully grasp what goes into planning a future in politics, no matter the party,

Yes, he would have been more noble if had never had an affair, but the fact that he has stuck it out is laudible.

The fact that he stuck it out? He's the one that cheated. How did he stick it out?

I won't argue with you any more regarding their marriage, but if you won't to hold their marriage up as laudible marriage as an institution is doomed. I could pick a name out the phone book and find a better marriage.

Not necessarily true. Many marriages do not include this as a requirement. Just ask the most moral man in America, Bill Bennett, who likes dominatrix hookers, and his wife seems to have no problems with it.

Keep trolling nofundy. You're very entertaining.

(I know it hurts your heart when anyone says anything derogatory about your "big dog", but try to be an adult and just take it as a difference of opinion and not someone telling you there's not santa claus.)
posted by justgary at 10:47 PM on June 24, 2004


Keep trolling nofundy. You're very entertaining.

Thank you. I try to be entertaining. And if my truthful statement regarding Bill Bennett is trolling then what would you call this?:

(I know it hurts your heart when anyone says anything derogatory about your "big dog", but try to be an adult and just take it as a difference of opinion and not someone telling you there's not santa claus.)

Supertrolling?
Oh, I see. It's only trolling when someone else does it? Especially if they express an opinion contrary to yours? :-) How precious precocious!
posted by nofundy at 7:39 AM on June 25, 2004


also, i heard a great interview with Bill Clinton on Election Day 2000 on Democracy Now yesterday. it made me somewhat ashamed to have voted for him (once).

seriously? Reading the transcript, it's amy goodman that comes off poorly - clinton answers every single one of her questions and she cuts him off with another dig, which he then explains in reasonable terms... and then she's surprised he calls her hostile and combative? It looks like she was trying to get him to hang up so she could say, see, he couldn't handle me - she didn't want reasonable answers & insight, she wanted to "win".

People like her would be lost without "bad guys" to rail against - I mean, it's fine that we have the hostile and combative part of the media; it keeps people on their toes, and it's certainly preferable to blindly worshipful media, but in this case the attack dog didn't get much meat...
posted by mdn at 10:56 AM on June 25, 2004


The fact that he stuck it out? He's the one that cheated. How did he stick it out?

!!!
posted by inpHilltr8r at 3:27 PM on June 25, 2004


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