Kathryn, Rich, & Sentient People Everywhere — Have you actually read this mea culpa review from the Times? Oh my Lord. It is absurd. It is mortifying. It reads like the confession at a show trial but with the intent of a mother trying to console a weeping, needy, child. It is hackery. It is fluff. It is scandalous. I am ashamed for the Times that they would rush a review to the public in such a blatant sprit of atonement for violating liberal pieties.
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.
Clinton has the vitality, but with it the inwardly angled gaze of a man who sees too clearly the crack in reality, the difference between what is and what might be, a sense born of all those normal things – the Cardinals, fishing, the Christmas tree and the out-of-state vacation – that somehow were never to occur again.
“During the silly time when Clinton was pilloried for wanting to debate the meaning of “is,” I often wondered why no one pointed out that he was educated by Jesuits, for whom the meaning of “is” is a matter not lightly resolved.”