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Books by and about 2012 presidential nominees
Do Not Ask What Good We Do
about Rep. Paul Ryan (2012)
The Path to Prosperity
by Rep. Paul Ryan (2012)
Ten Letters
about Pres. Barack Obama (2011)
A Life of Trial and Redemption
about V.P. Joe Biden (2010)
No Apology
by Gov. Mitt Romney (2010)
Young Guns
by Rep. Paul Ryan et al (2010)
The Path to Prosperity
by Rep. Paul Ryan (2012)
Promises to Keep
by Vice Pres. Joe Biden (2007)
The Audacity of Hope
by Pres. Barack Obama (2006)
Turnaround
by Gov. Mitt Romney (2004)
Dreams from My Father
by Pres. Barack Obama (1996)

Book Reviews

(from Amazon.com)

(click a book cover for a review or other books by or about the presidency from Amazon.com)

For Love of Politics:
Bill and Hillary Clinton: The White House Years
, by Sally Bedell Smith



(Click for Amazon book review)

    Click on a participant to pop-up their full list of quotations
    from For Love of Politics: Bill and Hillary Clinton: The White House Years by Sally Bedell Smith, published Oct. 23, 2007 (number of quotes indicated):
  • Al Gore (4)
  • Bill Clinton (12)
  • Hillary Clinton (22)
  • Ronald Regan (1)
    OR click on an issue category below for a subset.

BOOK REVIEW by OnTheIssues.org:

Sally Bedell Smith's book, published in 2007, is a year-by-year account of how effectively Bill and Hillary work together to win elections, achieve political and policy goals, and contain scandal. In the author's own words, the book explores "how two intelligent, ambitious, and complex people confronted the challenges they faced in the White House, how they worked together and seperately, and how the push and pull of their marriage affected the presidency."

The main point of the book is the idea of "two for one," almost a co-presidency, and less overtly, both Bill's and Hillary's use of the word "we" when describing policy positions and achievements. As this idea is illustrated throughout the book, the different styles, personalities, and approaches of Bill and Hillary are explored. Bill is depicted as a people-pleaser who avoided direct confrontation (though he sometimes had an explosive temper in private), and Hillary is more of a stern disciplinarian type.

Bedell uses the "two for one" framework to describe election strategy, President Clinton's domestic and foreign policy agenda, Hillary's efforts to reform health care, and investigations ranging from Whitewater to Monica Lewinsky. In addition, Bill Clinton's relationships with other women and how they have impacted his career are discussed, including a long description of the Monica Lewinsky episode (including sexual details). Bedell also describes Hillary's successful campaign in New York to become a Senator, and the book ends with the idea that Hillary's run for the presidency is a continuation of the same mission—"high political office, a Democratic agenda, the accumulation of power, and the pursuit of the Clinton legacy"—even though Bill and Hillary had reversed roles.

-- Naomi Lichtenberg, naomi@OnTheIssues.org, March 2008

 OnTheIssues.org excerpts:  (click on issues for details)
Budget & Economy
    Bill Clinton: 1995: Bill supported balancing budget in 10 years.
Civil Rights
    Hillary Clinton: Hillary wanted Bill’s cabinet to “Look Like America”.
    Hillary Clinton: 1998: Hillary predicted female President in near future.
Corporations
    Hillary Clinton: Outraged at CEO compensation.
Education
    Hillary Clinton: Hillary emphasized education reform without political agenda.
Families & Children
    Hillary Clinton: Served as chairman of the Children's Defense Fund.
Foreign Policy
    Hillary Clinton: Advocated using force in Bosnia as Bill’s top advisor.
    Hillary Clinton: Supported strong funding for international development.
Free Trade
    Hillary Clinton: Though Bill supported it, Hillary opposed NAFTA.
Health Care
    Hillary Clinton: Hillary appointed 8 days after inauguration to health cmte.
    Hillary Clinton: Worked on education & welfare in Arkansas but not healthcare.
    Hillary Clinton: Condemns insurers as motivated by greed.
Homeland Security
    Bill Clinton: Response to 1993 World Trade Center bombing muted.
Principles & Values
    Al Gore: Written agreement with Bill Clinton assigning V.P. duties.
    Al Gore: Friendly with Hillary in 1992; until healthcare taskforce.
    Al Gore: Gore’s influence inevitably diminished due to co-presidency.
    Al Gore: 2000: no Bill Clinton campaigning to dissociate from scandal.
    Bill Clinton: Hillary more important as presidential adviser than Al Gore.
    Bill Clinton: 1992: This is not an arrangement; this is a marriage.
    Bill Clinton: 1992: Applied Reagan's method to his presidential transition.
    Bill Clinton: 1998: Group of Democratic Senators asked Bill to resign.
    Bill Clinton: OpEd: Savors the sheer joy of the political game.
    Bill Clinton: Self-styled ‘New Democrat’ to separate himself from liberals.
    Bill Clinton: Bill’s “let me think about it” meant “I’ll ask Hillary”.
    Bill Clinton: Ambivalent about 2000 victory after Gore distanced himself.
    Hillary Clinton: 1998: Unforeseen turning point when Moynihan resigned.
    Hillary Clinton: Mastered public speaking in high school.
    Hillary Clinton: 1992: I'm not just standing by my man like Tammy Wynette.
    Hillary Clinton: OpEd: Bill and Hillary together are "force multipliers".
    Hillary Clinton: Purpose of politics is to gain power and enact programs.
    Hillary Clinton: I don't do spontaneity.
    Hillary Clinton: Stumble of “baking cookies” was moment of authenticity.
    Hillary Clinton: Hillary and Bill made joint decisions during presidency.
    Hillary Clinton: Key to Bill & Hillary’s marriage is shared love of politics.
    Hillary Clinton: Gives guest church sermon: “What It Means to be a Methodist”.
    Ronald Regan: 1,000 people worked on presidential transition for 7 months.
Social Security
    Hillary Clinton: 1997: Hillary warned against privatizing Social Security.
Tax Reform
    Bill Clinton: Reneged on promise to address "forgotten middle class".
War & Peace
    Bill Clinton: 1991:Claimed he wasn't drafted; 1992: induction notice found.


The above quotations are from For Love of Politics:
Bill and Hillary Clinton: The White House Years
, by Sally Bedell Smith.

BOOK REVIEW by OnTheIssues.org in the context of 2016 preparation:

This book details, from the perspective of journalistic history, the events of Bill Clinton's presidential administration, in the context of Hillary Clinton's presidential run in 2008. It was published just prior to the 2008 presidential campaign, and the author notes in the introduction, "This is an opportune moment to try to unravel the mysteries of the Clintons' marriage and to assess the extent to which the country was governed by a co-presidency from 1993 to 2001." The book addresses the two issues in that introductory statement in great detail in its 608 pages:

  1. Yes, Bill and Hillary ran a co-presidency, much more than Al Gore got to participate in the co-presidency he dreamed of. All three of them could veto White House actions, according to the book, but Hillary was Bill's first adviser, with Gore a distant second.
  2. And yes, Bill and Hillary's marriage had some "mystery", if one questions why a wife would stay with a repeat philanderer. According to the book, it's because of Hillary's background (good Methodists don't divorce) and because she recognized that they could accomplish a lot together, including her future election, and would accomplish much less apart.

The author, Sally Bedell Smith, is a well-established political writer, and the book is relatively unbiased. Sometimes it feels anti-Hillary; sometimes it feels pro-Hillary; which means it's fair. It also sometimes feels anti-Bill and sometimes feels pro-Bill; which is also fair. But it's almost always anti-Al Gore; which feels a little unfair to the man who, towards the end of the book, won more votes for president than anyone prior in U.S. history.

The book reviews every fact and every rumor about every scandal of Bill's two terms. Given the 10- to 15-year lag time, fairness has finally become possible. Like any pundit over the age of 30, I remember the events presented, but have not discussed them myself for a decade; the book's summaries seem like accurate history and the few judgments made are always done by citing one of the players, rather than the auther herself. But oh, there are SO many scandals, which is why the book stretches to SO many pages:

  • Hillary's TravelGate scandal, tied to Vince Foster's suicide and the scandal surrounding his legal notes as her personal lawyer.

  • Bill & Hillary's Whitewater scandal, in which they were accused of falsifying tax returns about profits and losses on a real estate development project on the White River in Arkansas. Vince Foster served as their lawyer for Whitewater also, tying Whitewater to the previous scandal.

  • Bill's peccadilloes in Arkansas, for which he used his gubernatorial state troopers to transport women, which became known as TrooperGate. This scandal led to all of the other sex scandals because Paula Jones based her lawsuit against Bill Clinton on TrooperGate.

  • Paula Jones sued Bill for sexual harassment, and this was the only legal case ever involved with Bill Clinton's impeachment. Because of this civil lawsuit, Bill testified about Monica Lewinsky, with whom Bill claimed he never had sex.

  • Kenneth Starr was appointed as Independent Counsel to investigate Whitewater and Vince Foster's death (not to investigate about Paula Jones nor Monica Lewinsky). According to the book, this investigation cost the taxpayers $65 million and occupied more than 3 years surrounding Bill's re-election -- but concluded that Bill had nothing to do with Vince Foster's death, and had no serious wrongdoing in Whitewater. The Independent Counsel law was not renewed in 1999, mostly as a result of this case.

  • Nevertheless, Bill got impeached for lying about Monica Lewinsky in the Paula Jones case. His actual impeachment was for perjury and obstruction of justice -- neither of which he was ever charged with in court, but only in Congress. The House impeached him for those two charges (and not two others), and then the Senate denied convicting him of either one.

  • The impeachment charges focused on Bill's misstatements in which he said there "is no sexual relationship" with Monica. The book excruciatingly explains Bill's Biblical definition of 'sex' (intercourse, not fellatio), as well as the "meaning of 'is'" (present tense, not past tense); hence Bill says his statement was legally true.

In summary, Bill was not impeached for any misconduct with Paula Jones, who presented the only actual lawsuit against him. And he was not impeached for any actions involving Whitewater or Vince Foster, which were the only original topics of Ken Starr's investigation. Monica Lewinsky never accused Bill of anything except breaking her heart, but Bill did get impeached for his statements about her. Reading this stuff retrospectively in a book was much less painful than I recall at the time of the events, when they went on interminably. At least here one could turn the page.

Overall, this book lays out everything a well-informed voter should know about Bill's presidency and Hillary's role in his administration and scandals. This book makes all other such books obsolete -- they are all biased or partisan in comparison. When Hillary runs in 2016, and these topics are reviewed again, no additional book should be necessary, because this book already exists. Alas, there are plenty of other books on all of the topics covered here, and probably more to follow before 2016 -- we review several of them below! -- the best advice to good citizens is to ignore all other scandal-ridden books and stick to this one!

-- Jesse Gordon, jesse@OnTheIssues.org, July 2014

     

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