BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,
BTRIPP
btripp

Still trying to get caught up ...

Long-time readers of my blog will no doubt recall that I loathed the Clintons and felt that they were a national humiliation foisted on us by the hubris of Ross Perot (who had no chance of winning the Presidency but provided a crippling blow to the G.H.W.Bush's re-election campaign, which would have easily won head-to-head against Clinton). As such, I tend to approach books like Because He Could (by Dick Morris and his wife, Eileen McGann) looking for the "treasonous parts" in order to indulge in a 1984-style "Two Minutes' Hate". Unfortunately, Morris' look at Bill is far more sympathetic than his outlining of Hillary as a power-mad sociopath in Rewriting History, so it was less "fun" of a read for me!

Dick Morris had a long association with Bill Clinton, from his races for the Arkansas Governor's mansion through his Presidency. As such, he has a very good perspective for commenting on Clinton's autobiography (and Because He Could is a "rebuttal" to Clinton's My Life in the same way that Rewriting History was of Hillary's Living History). One thing he keeps coming back to, time and again, was that there was no theme, almost no point to Clinton's Presidency. Clinton's book reads like he was typing up his appointment calendar, with no context, no meaning, and Morris notes how everything was a series of reactions, often to individual people's "stories". According to Morris, Bill Clinton's career was based pretty much on two traits, he had a nearly photographic memory for minutia, and he was incredibly empathic, not only being able to read who loved or hated him, but legitimately being able "to feel their pain", however these where never harnessed to a central philosophy, but an ever-shifting pragmatism.

Clinton was also very averse to having to be responsible for anything. Nearly every plan, proposal, response, or stance coming from the Oval Office was based on the specific recommendation of somebody, who would be forgotten if it succeeded (becoming Clinton's idea), or take the fall if it failed. Nothing was ever "his fault", there were always others to blame, either in his cabinet, or his opponents.

Frankly, Morris spends a lot of this book trying to show the achievements of the Clinton Presidency, putting some sort of context around them, and puzzling why no effort was made in Clinton's own book to do so. Ultimately, one has to come to the point that there is no "there" there in Bill Clinton, he is a reflector, a chameleon, and to have any core belief (except for his own infallibility) would provide too much of a drag to let him swing into the winds. I must admit, however, that I had never seen the good stuff of the Clinton administrations trotted out like this, and found myself giving up some grudging appreciation for some of the things that they were able to get done, even in the face of the on-going horrors they committed when the polls told them that most people wouldn't care (think Ruby Ridge, Waco, Elian Gonzalez, etc., etc., etc.).

One of the most fascinating things covered here was how vastly Bill Clinton's accounts of Hillary's involvement in his administration differed from hers ... except in the parts where "she's to blame" (such as the healthcare fiasco), she almost doesn't exist except for having (with Chelsea) been on various trips around the world. Needless to say, Hillary paints herself as some sort of a co-President, but she's invisible in Bill's book, and Morris tries to figure out this as well. It seems that, aside from Clinton's "I can't be to blame" function (where others exist to provide ideas without credit when they work, or be the fallguy when they don't) he had a deep fear of Hillary. A very uncomfortable chapter is spent looking at the "relationship dynamics" there, and how it was often a political game of who needed who more at the time (for instance, Hillary being given the healthcare initiative to shut her up about the various early "bimbogate" stories, and her totally stonewalling the Lewinsky issue in exchange for using the White House as an illegal fund-raising HQ for her Senate campaign).

Perhaps the most damning part (of what is really a fairly supportive book) in this deconstruction of Clinton's autobiography is the "Errata" section in which Morris points out either glaring misstatements of fact (what, from a guy who would ask "what is means"?) or chasm-like omissions that are described as "like discussing Noah's Ark without mentioning the rain"! While Morris doesn't necessarily shy away from the criminal aspects of both of the Clintons track records (and, lord knows, they'd have both been in prison if they were Republicans and didn't have the MSM whitewashing 90% of their dirt), he makes a lot of excuses and tip-toes around some of the more "conspiracy theory" elements of their history (including spending a scant few sentences on the massive sell-out of military technology to China in exchange for "laundered" campaign contributions).

Needless to say, Because He Could is still in print, but you can get 1¢ "very good" copies (well, $4 with shipping) from the Amazon new/used vendors! This is a relatively quick, interesting read, with an unique perspective on what was a polarizing period in American history. I would hope that a lot of Liberals would read this to open their eyes to the reality of their hero ... but there's not much here aside from "context" to offer those of us who thought mere impeachment was "too lenient" for Clinton.


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Tags: book review
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