This would qualify as a political insider’s insider book. From reading the reviews there doesn’t seem to be too many surprises or revelations. For Clinton supporters it is more evidence of what they already know – their man was ‘wronged.’ Perhaps they are right. But this is after all, only a book. It remains to be seen whether it will be folded into history.
On the plus side it is not written by a talk radio host of any persuasion. I say that only because such books are breathless in their dogma and preach to the choir.
Time Magazine review: They’re down on the book because they think they’ve heard it all before.
Blumenthal’s abiding theme is that Clinton’s presidency was the victim of a right-wing political cabal that manipulated the media and the legal system to make mountains out of dunghills, and he makes a surprisingly convincing case by doggedly following countless news stories and allegations to their origins in tainted, planted, unfounded, retracted, distorted, misleading and plain nonexistent evidence. Throughout, we get too brief flashbulb glimpses of the real star of the show: Blumenthal’s Clinton is a smart, extroverted, cardplayer, charismatic, 24/7 conversation junkie — but Blumenthal is much too loyal an ally to make a good portraitist.
Sidney Blumenthal recalls, he watched White House officials who ”had to cope with stress and depression, and became exhausted” after being drawn into lawsuits. He himself ”incurred about $300,000 in legal expenses,” he estimates, and cites a survey that puts the costs to the White House staff from Kenneth Starr’s inquiries — in July 1998, before impeachment reached a head — at $8 million.
The constricted record makes Blumenthal’s sprawling 800-page memoir of his four years as a presidential assistant, from 1997 to 2001, a welcome addition to the literature on Bill Clinton’s tumultuous second term.
Blumenthal has grand ambitions: He has crammed between these covers a journalistic account of Clinton’s first term, an insider’s report on his second, and an historian’s effort to fit all of these events into the longer sweep of American politics. It’s difficult to imagine that either Clinton will defend the president’s record more enthusiastically or unwaveringly than Blumenthal.
In many ways Blumenthal’s portrayal is a useful corrective to the tendency among conservatives and even many mainstream reporters to present the Clinton years as only a succession of scandals while slighting his policy achievements and success at dragging to the center a Democratic Party that had lost five of the six presidential elections before his victory.
I’ll post more as I find them
Amazon ranked #16. Notice how War has become a catchword in recent decades for “presidency.” To me that speaks more to the nature of politics than “war.”Powered by Sidelines