Wonder When You'll Miss Me

Defending Bill Clinton's My Life

Regarding My Life itself, it is long. Yes. While I doubt that any of the reviewers who have disparagingly compared it to the memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant have ever actually read the latter, I also doubt that they have read the former. Say what you will about Clinton, but he is one of the few U.S. presidents since Grant to have written a book by himself. While reading it I often wished someone else had written it for him, since he clearly has a tin ear and little sense of what to include and what to leave out. All the same, it's impossible to actually read this book without missing Clinton, for unlike his predecessor and his successor, the Spook and the Born-Again Cokehead/Booze Hound, he isn't mean-spirited, homophobic, racist, or idiotic, never confuses himself with Jesus Christ, and even when putting annoying people in their place, does it with a light touch. "Unfortunately, my relationship with Bill Bennett didn't fare well after I became President and he began promoting virtue for a living." "Vice-President Dan Quayle said he intended to be the 'pit bull terrier' of the election campaign. When asked about it, I said Quayle's claim would strike terror into the heart of every fire hydrant in America." Clinton is even gracious to Barbara Bush, a vicious old bag in pearl sets who could've given Angela Lansbury notes for her role in The Manchurian Candidate.

I will leave it to others to parse whether it is preferable, given the systemic and implacable evils of maintaining an empire that is inherently vampiric and suicidal, to have its declining years managed by Rapture-hungry mental dwarves, cretinous judges flapping about in Iolanthe-inspired Inquisition costumes of their own design, and megalomaniacs of indeterminable species such as Richard Perle; or by a plain-talking arriviste who can't resist a Big Mac and a strawberry milk shake, and once in a while needs a blowjob from somebody he isn't married to. I happen to think it does make a difference what kind of arse sits in the Oval Office and whether he governs with a sense of his own transience and imperfection or uses fear and intimidation to whip the population into line with whatever brand of pious bullshit makes him feel like Superman. For people who truly believe the Bush coup d'état has "restored honor to the Presidency," or however that tired tune goes, I recommend Bill Clinton's book as a good strong dose of the reality principle. Honorable people don't waste any time proclaiming how honorable they are, and sometimes honor consists in admitting you fucked up.

Oh, yeah, and all you brilliant Nader voters, ask yourself this: Are you better off now than you were four years ago?

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