10.25.2005

New Rule: No more books on Bill Clinton, unless they're by Bill Clinton. Seriously, I'm not even a Bill Clinton fan. I support this simply because of the stupidity of the people who continue to write "first-hand account," insider, or "expert" exposes, 5 and 6 years after the fact. One autobiography and a couple biographies are really enough, aren't they?

Here's a great list just suggested to me on amazon.com, by JamesNYC248, "an impartial Canadian." First of all, at least get your username and description consistent... That's one line and I'm already confused. But enough ranting.

Our impartial "bi-citizen" has compiled a fittingly impartial list; all 25 books are full-blown critiques of Clinton released within the last 3 years! Ok The most obnoxious one I have seen is the most recent, solemnly inspired by Clinton's recent 60 Minutes interview entitled, cleverly, "Because He Could." I think we all remember something about this:

"Because I could" is the explanation Bill Clinton finally gave for Monica Lewinsky. Because HE can, Dick Morris ridicules the man he advised for twenty years. I don't know if Clinton enjoyed himself, but Morris is certainly having fun. The writer's own voice enriches the experience, not because he's a master narrator, but because he sounds just like the smarty-pants you'd expect. We hear that Bill has a temper, and was only briefly poor. Morris tells how the president copied a typed speech by hand in order to get credit for it. (Everybody knew he didn't type.) The thought that Clinton might have copied out his entire 957-page memoir by hand in order to get credit for writing that gets Morris laughing so hard that he loses his place.

Let me try to translate that sentence by sentence. Ok: Clinton's super-important adviser got the brilliant idea to write yet another book besmirching the former president after seeing an interview on national television. Because he can makes lots of money doing it, DICK MORRIS ridicules the man he advised for probably NOT twenty full years. This book was a tedious and cold-blooded exercise in character assassination, but it sure was fun! Our writer is a self-promoting jackass who wants you to know he is really smart. He reveals things already admitted to directly by Clinton himself, in his own official autobiography, even (it's unbelievable to me that someone promoting this book hasn't at least read the first 200 pages of the autobiography they are ostensibly rebutting). One time, the president cheated on a test! And, Dick Morris, who is smart in all other areas of life, has never heard of dictation for books, so Clinton must have not written his own biography either. That's fraud! Or cheating! Or something!

Perhaps I should sharpen this rule to: you shouldn't write biographies if you're not a biographer. I'll say one more thing on the topic. On the back cover, there is a series of false dichotomies. The first one is:

"the poor little boy from Hope...or the privileged fortunate son of Little rock, Yale, and Oxford, England?"

Are we to believe that it's impossible to be both poor and through hard work and ability win scholarships to Georgetown and then Yale and Oxford? Regardless, I'm not going to waste the resources to read more than the front and back cover, so this book could reaaly be a fine piece of work. (not)

Here's another interesting book written by a "non-partisan" military commander. On the cover, someone thought it would be really clever to PHOTOSHOP what looks like a JOINT into Clinton's mouth. See he really is a tree-hugger, and that's why he endangered our military. And it explains the cigar thing too.

"This is certainly not the first anti-Clinton book, but it is different in that Patterson does not seem to have a political ax to grind. In fact, at times, he appears apologetic about having to write about his ex-commander in chief. Yet, in the end, this retired soldier felt his last act of service should be to share his experience with his country."

Hmm. Does the fact that Amazon explicitly pairs this book with "How Liberal Democrats Undercut Our Military," written by the same author, count as evidence to the contrary? Publishers Weekly summarizes:

In Patterson's account, Clinton emerges as a careless, disingenuous frat boy, mercilessly hen-pecked by the domineering Hillary, whose tirades leave him looking like a "beaten puppy." He presides over a chaotic administration focused on spin and fund-raising; he fondles an Air Force One stewardess and ogles Patterson's wife in the Oval Office; he loses the nuclear launch codes; and he cheats at golf-which Patterson views as "not just a peccadillo but symptomatic of the way he approached life." Patterson also asserts that Clinton "directly and severely harmed this nation's security." Clinton debilitated the military, Patterson claims, by downsizing it, trying to remove the ban on homosexuals and put women in combat roles, "gutting morale" with pay freezes and "rudderless" peace-keeping missions, and turning it into an "armed social services agency." Worst of all, Clinton was soft on terrorism and missed a chance to get bin Laden with cruise missiles. Patterson raises important issues, but he seems most often affronted by what he sees as Clinton's belief that he "was privileged to conduct himself at a much lower code of conduct than the men or women he would repeatedly order into harm's way."

No, no political ax to grind there.

One could similarly satirize this account by inserting the word "Bush" wherever Clinton appears, with 2 exceptions. Honestly, if someone gave me a copy of this account and told me it was about Bush, I wouldn't think twice. To be honest, objectively, I think it describes him better. Maybe, then, the new rule should be: don't criticize people for things you couldn't do yourself. Of course, this still leaves plenty of people to bring light to the sacred critical role of our democracy. In addition, facts are still facts, to be gathered and disseminated by all. It just means that random editors from Vanity fair, and the guy who got too creative with Photoshop, are not, automatically, included.

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