Carol Felsenthal's latest biography, a candid,
objective look at Bill
Clinton's post White House years, was published in paperback by
HarperCollins in June 2009.
It is available for ordering from:
Carol is now blogging for
At the top right of the page, type Carol Felsenthal
into Search theHill.com
Carol continues to be regular featured blogger The Huffington
See her archive at
Booklist (starred review):
CLINTON IN EXILE by Carol Felsenthal
“Review of the Day”
Postpresidency, Bill Clinton is as intriguing as ever. Having
left office under the cloud of the Monica Lewinksy scandal and
his controversial pardon of Marc Rich, Clinton spent a few lonely
years in the new family home in Chappaqua , New York . He regained
his bearings as a highly paid, extremely popular speaker and executive
of a charitable foundation, with wider esteem outside the U.S.
than at home. But journalist Felsenthal presents a man haunted
by missed opportunities and obsessed with his legacy. She details
struggles with his memoirs and his health. She also analyzes Clinton’s
prickly relationship with Jimmy Carter, reconciliation with Al
Gore, friendship with the first President Bush—solidified
by their joint efforts to raise tsunami relief funds—and
Clinton’s renewed appeal as a political advisor. His old
friends complain that the new FOBs are among the uber-rich who
can offer access to corporate jets and money to finance the presidential
campaign of Hillary Clinton. Felsenthal, who talked to more than
175 friends, associates, and enemies of Bill Clinton, offers insight
into Clinton’s role in the 2000 presidential election and
the current election, where he delicately attempts to help his
wife without overshadowing her, even amid rumors of continued
infidelity and speculation of his role in a Hillary administration.
Completely fascinating. — Vanessa Bush
'A Slippery Subject'
Bill back onstage
by Michael Miner on April 23rd 2008 - 4:24 p.m.
Tags: Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, John Nance Garner, Carol
Carol Felsenthal made an interesting observation about the Clintons
to me recently. Back in '98, when the Monica Lewinsky scandal
was new, a lot of people thought Hillary should have thrown Bill
out of the house. But the White House was his house. Giving the
bum the heave-ho would have raised constitutional issues. If she's
elected in November, he'll have to watch it.
Felsenthal, a friend of mine, is coming out with a new book, Clinton
in Exile: A President Out of the White House. Even in 2001, when
he moved out on his own terms because his presidency was over,
she says, it was a pretty miserable leavetaking. He was in semidisgrace,
thanks to the Marc Rich pardon and stories (way overblown, according
to Felsenthal) of his staff trashing Air Force One and the West
Wing. TV comics "made him into a ridiculous, pitiful figure."
To top it off, he had nowhere to go. The Clintons had bought a
place in Chappaqua so she could run for senator in New York, but
now that she'd been elected she was never there and it meant nothing
to him. "He was stranded with his dog Buddy and his butler
and the Secret Service in the garage," with Maureen Dowd
hiding out front in the evergreens waiting to pounce, she says.
Felsenthal predicts that Clinton won't be back in the White House
anytime soon, but if she's wrong she has no concern that Bill
would be, or would even attempt to be, a Putin to Hillary's Medvedev.
"She would say, 'Forget that, buddy.'" So what would
the ex-president do with himself? Apparently he had trouble with
that as president, too. "Hillary goes to sleep at night and
in the morning she's wide awake and ready for action," says
Felsenthal. "Bill would stay up all night on the telephone
and playing cards and then he'd go into a policy meeting and fall
asleep." Felsenthal thinks Hillary would get him out of her
hair, turning him into an envoy forever on the move, serving his
nation by spreading his bad-boy charm.
Clinton showed up onstage with Hillary and Chelsea Tuesday night
to bask in the Pennsylvania victory, but he hasn't been seen much
since the night of the Iowa defeat. His staying away has been
tactical, Felsenthal says, not a sign that the couple's on the
outs. They seldom see each other, but they talk all the time,
and despite how odd the marriage is it's a strong one, she believes.
If Hillary's president she'll be the boss, but he'll be her top
consultant, "and that's why the vice presidency in a Hillary
Clinton administration would be a bucket of warm piss." In
other words, a return to normalcy. That's what John Nance Garner
called the vice presidency when he served under FDR, long before
the office was taken over by Rasputin, I mean Dick Cheney.
The book jacket calls Clinton in Exile a "definitive biography,"
which it isn't. Instructed by her publisher, Morrow, Felsenthal
cut some 80,000 words from her original manuscript, most of them
telling the pre-2001 "back story." The biographical
stuff, in short. Felsenthal has been promoting her book by writing
on the Clintons at huffingtonpost.com. She had a good post recently
about Bill Clinton's wristwatches. When he was governor, and even
after he was elected president, "he was infamous for wearing
a cheap plastic Timex Ironman" -- or so Felsenthal was told
by a watchmaker who does business with Clinton now. Timex had
a big operation in Arkansas. Now Clinton has more than 50 watches,
one of them valued at more than $100,000. Felsenthal regrets that
"no one has reported which watch the former president sported
when he traveled in Pennsylvania bashing Obama as an out-of-touch
Down but not out
CHICAGO LIT | Bill Clinton
will see another comeback, author says
May 18, 2008
BY AMANDA BARRETT
Bill Clinton was going nowhere, fast. No. 42 had just left the
White House and was living in Chappaqua, N.Y., with his valet,
Oscar, and his dog, Buddy. Hillary was in the Senate, living in
a mansion in D.C., and making it clear she did not want him around.
Chelsea had her own career and life. But worst of all, the press
and the public were turning against him.
One outrage after another was sinking the former president's
popularity: the supposed filching of White House furniture; the
eye-popping pardon of disgraced financier Marc Rich; the stripping
of Air Force II, and the decision to rent an outrageously expensive,
taxpayer-funded office in Manhattan. The Comeback Kid needed yet
Clinton in Exile author Carol Felsenthal blogs about Bill and
Hillary Clinton, among other hot topics, on the Huffington Post.
Chicago writer Carol Felsenthal's juicy, can't-put-down new book,
Clinton in Exile: A president Out of the White House, explains
how he achieved that comeback and became an international "rock
Exile begins at the very end of Clinton's White House tenure
-- he's jacked up on adrenaline, maniacally running around, every
moment a beehive of restless activity, entertaining Terry MacCauliffe,
watching half a movie, packing boxes -- and issuing pardons.
Clinton left the White House "in a pretty good place,"
says Felsenthal. "He escaped conviction, his approval ratings
in the 60s, he was riding a wave of love and appreciation from
the American public, and then the bottom fell out with his inexplicably
Soon enough, Clinton got his act together and hit the road, raising
tremendous amounts of money to eradicate AIDS in Africa and earning
millions giving speeches. But Bill had changed, writes Felsenthal.
Bubba, the man who never cared much about money, was now Jetsetter
Bill, riding on private jets with billionaires and "surrounded
by sycophants and fans and groupies."
Felsenthal describes Clinton as "handsome, powerful, charismatic
and extremely narcissistic, but he has a real need to be loved."
But these days he's not feeling a lot of love. It's no secret
that the primary season has been a disaster for Bill Clinton.
Over the last few months, we've seen his popularity plunge. Consider:
his ill-conceived comment about Jesse Jackson in South Carolina;
his stray, off-message remarks on the stump; his red-faced rants,
and his ludicrous defense of Hillary's Bosnia sniper-fire story
(She was 60 and telling a story late at night. She was tired.).
Armchair psychologists think Clinton is perhaps subconsciously
sabotaging his wife's presidential chances out of jealousy or
fear of being overshadowed.
Not a chance, says Felsenthal. He is jonesing too much for the
White House: "He was telling people when he left the White
House that he wished he could have 10 more terms. And he really
wants Hillary to win because he does feel like he owes her."
And of course he is always, always worried about his legacy.
Felsenthal, author of unauthorized biographies of Katharine Graham,
Alice Roosevelt Longworth and others, has taken some hits from
critics who are unhappy about her unscholarly, gossipy approach
to her subject.
With chapters such as "Philanderer in Chief," you might
argue that. But you also could note that such a scandal-soaked
subject calls for a bit of tawdry treatment.
Clinton-bashers will delight in some of the book's stories, especially
those of Clinton's woman-chasing. But the writer gives Clinton
the benefit of the doubt and offers up an even-handed account
of her slippery subject. Felsenthal quotes true believers who
say the Clintons' love affair is indeed real.
Don Hewitt of "60 Minutes" says, "I have to believe
that he is smart enough to make sure there is no more bimbo gossip."
But then there is this jewel of a quote, from a Democrat who
has worked for Clinton and knows him socially: "Of course
Clinton's still screwing around. He's never paid a price for his
transgressions. ... I think he is running around like crazy."
Hollywood billionaire and former Clinton supporter David Geffen
says, "I don't think anybody believes that in the last six
years, all of a sudden Bill Clinton has become a different person."
But the campaign hasn't reached the point where adultery is an
"Temptation is all around," says Felsenthal. "I
have no doubt that in a general election, if Hillary were the
candidate, that would be a heavy albatross around her neck.
"I laugh to myself when I hear her saying, 'I'm the most
vetted candidate ever,' because it is so patently untrue."
What is undeniably true is that time is running out for Bill
But Exile ends on a hopeful note, at the beginning of 2008, when
the Democratic nomination was still well within reach.
And even after all the slams, Felsenthal can see another comeback.
"He's down again," she says, "But I have no doubt
he will regain his reputation in a couple of months. He has an
enormous ability to judge the public mood."
Amanda Barrett is the features editor of the Sun-Times.
Bill's Chicago Pals Turn Away
Felsenthal's 'Exile' catalogs a shift to Obama
April 28, 2008
BY BILL ZWECKER Sun-Times Columnist
There are quite a few big Windy City connections in Chicago author
Carol Felsenthal's Clinton in Exile: A President Out of the White
House, her fascinating biography of President Bill Clinton's post-White
House years. Among Clinton's close Chicago pals Felsenthal interviewed
for the book, she finds it interesting that
''many of his closest Chicago supporters -- Lew Manilow (who I
didn't interview), Lou Susman, Lou Weisbach, Bill Daley, David
Schulte, etc., are now supporting [Barack] Obama.''
One of the ex-prez's best buddies is noted Chicago restaurateur
Phil Stefani, who told Felsenthal about a White House overnight
where they slept in the Lincoln Bedroom and played a Scrabble-like
game Clinton loved, called ''Upwards.'' Proof that one is never
off-duty when you're the most powerful person in the world, Clinton
got everyone playing the game, then announced, ''I have to go
and call Arafat, and then I'll be back.''
Former President Bill Clinton applauds as his wife, Democratic
presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), speaks
at her Pennsylvania primary election night party in Philadelphia
earlier this month.
As Clinton in Exile hits bookstores this month, Felsenthal will
get buzz for a number of revelations in the book. Those include
President Clinton saying (in August, 2006) that Obama and Tennessee's
Harold Ford, Jr. ''are the two guys with the juice to go all the
way.'' ... Asked if Hillary Clinton would run in 2008, her husband
said (in the summer of '06), ''No, because I don't think she can
And there are references to the rumors that President Clinton
continues to stray. Felsenthal quotes a highly placed Democratic
operative as saying, ''when Clinton travels in private planes,
there are women aboard,'' and quotes another Clinton friend saying,
''I know that he has a new relationship and it's dangerous, and
there's more than one.''
Clinton in Exile includes a photo of Canadian politician Belinda
Stronach, a woman 20 years Bill Clinton's junior, who allegedly
was involved with him. But Felsenthal writes, ''if there ever
was a relationship, it is said to be over.''
Kansas City Star
April 28, 2008
New bio reports Clinton told ABC to kill "Path
Carol Felsenthal is a Chicago-based journalist who first contacted
me about three years ago, when she was working on a profile of
Roger Ebert for Chicago magazine. I was impressed at the resulting
piece, which pulled no punches and suggested strongly that the
only reason Disney was keeping the Ebert and Roeper show on the
air was prestige, not profits. Felsenthal's work would be borne
out by later events, as re-up negotiations have gotten bogged
down since Ebert took himself off the air, and his partner has
had to stop using the famous thumb ratings.
Clinton2Felsenthal has a new book out this week May 6, Clinton
in Exile: A President Out of the White House. I'm about halfway
through, but I think that Felsenthal has set the bar high for
subsequent biographers/apologists/attack dogs writing about the
Clinton post-presidency. Yes, she conducted the requisite supersize
number of interviews (165), with enough insiders to the Billary
circle to make her reporting credible short of actually getting
access to the Clintons. And yes, there's a pile of footnotes,
though a separate list of interviews conducted would've been nice,
too. But it's her storyline that people are going to find compelling,
not to mention timely. She argues that Clinton's bad habits, excess,
and lack of focus all cost him dearly as President and now threaten
to tarnish his legacy. He is the mirror opposite of his nemesis
Jimmy Carter. While Carter has used his inner discipline to rebuild
his brand from one-term dud to Nobel laureate, Clinton is spending
all the goodwill he built up over two terms like a riverboat gambler.
His 2004 memoir My Life, Felsenthal writes, is the embodiment
of the ex-President's lack of discipline, a 1,000-page rush job
that, she pointedly notes, disappointed Clinton when it didn't
win a Pulitzer.
I'll let other reviewers deal with the sauciest revelations from
the book, which could be summarized as billionaires, bimbos and
Boeings. There's some news in here from the TV front. Felsenthal
reviews the inglorious stint of Clinton and Bob Dole doing a point-counterpoint
segment on "60 Minutes." Don Hewitt, the show's creator,
wanted Bill O'Reilly instead of Dole. But even if Hewitt had found
a more acceptable pundit to spar with him, Clinton wouldn't have
done anything to hurt Hillary's future ambitions, Felsenthal writes.
So a FOB from the GOP was picked instead, with predictable resultzzzzzz.
But the really eyebrow-raising story, and the one that may have
legs if the primary battle between his wife and Barack Obama stretches
into the summer, is how Team Clinton worked hard to kill off the
"Path to 9/11" miniseries on ABC in 2006. Though even
close advisors to the Clinton Administration have conceded shortcomings
in their response to al-Qaeda — so well laid out in Lawrence
Wright's magnificent account The Looming Tower — they all
went into attack mode after some FOBs saw a preview of the first
night of "Path to 9/11." Even though the script was
from a veteran TV docudrama writer who had no real axe to grind,
and had been reviewed carefully by 9/11 Commission icon Tom Kean,
he was quickly demonized as a right-wing hack by Clintonites and
their amen corner in the blogosphere. I remember interviewing
Kean and finding him not just to be a celebrity endorser of the
miniseries but someone who seemed well acquainted with the accounts
and descriptions of the two-night commercial-free program. That,
of course, was before Team Clinton went to work. Kean's relationship
with Clinton was damaged by the "Path to 9/11" fallout.
Most shameful are the performances of Sandy Berger, who called
scenes "defamatory" that reenact accounts he had corroborated
elsewhere; and Madeleine Albright, who wanted the movie censored
without bothering to watch it. As to the claim that Clinton was
less than fully focused on world affairs from 1998 to 2000 because
he was being distracted by a certain long-running sex scandal
... does anyone NOT believe that? By recounting the events of
"Path to 9/11," Felsenthal tells us a lot about Clinton
42 and how its efforts to protect its legacy may ultimately cripple
his wife's chances of being Clinton 44 or 45.
Anyway, it's a great read. Chip Franklin and I talked about the
book and other political TV items (Antonin Scalia on "60
Minutes," Craig Ferguson at the White House Correspondents
Dinner) today on KOGO.
Felsenthal, Carol. Clinton in Exile: A President Out of the White
House. Morrow. May 2008. 368p. photogs. index. ISBN 978-0-06-123159-9.
$25.95. POL SCI
Verdict: This book will be in particular demand during this election
year; Felsenthal does not avoid the topics that general readers
will enjoy reading more about. Recommended for public libraries.
Background: Huffington Post blogger and unauthorized biographer
Felsenthal (Power, Privilege and the Post: The Katharine Graham
Story) spent a couple of years observing and assessing the life
of President Bill Clinton since his departure from the White House.
Not surprisingly, she takes readers back and forth in time, so
that she connects his post-presidential traits and habits with
his modes of operating in the past. Her well-written account makes
use of over 150 interviews she undertook with Clinton associates,
including friends, former colleagues, and occasional enemies.
Evidently, the Clintons’ inner circle cooperated with the
author, who offers updates and new information on Bill Clinton’s
past and present relationships with the first President Bush,
his own vice president Al Gore, and Hillary, as well as other
women who have been subjected to the Clinton rumor mill. Most
of Felsenthal's interviewees gave a pass on describing Bill Clinton's
character flaws. Felsenthal herself, however, deeply observes
his preoccupation with his legacy and the competitive instincts
aroused in him on that account (vis-à-vis other ex-presidents
and ex-vice presidents who have won the Nobel Peace Prize, for
example). She also ponders what Bill Clinton’s role will
be in the White House if he finds himself there as the president’s
spouse.—Karen Sutherland, DesPlaines Valley P.L. Dist.,
Friday, July 18, 2008
Summer Reading: Carol Felsenthal’s Clinton in Exile
By Bernie Quigley
- for The Hill, 7/17/08
There is a masterfully crafted scene in Carol Felsenthal’s
Clinton in Exile that brings to mind the stillness and awe of
Robert E. Lee signing surrender at Appomattox or Nelson’s
funeral after Trafalgar. You feel as if you are waiting there
for Lee to make his despondent comment on behalf of the heroic
vanquished when Grant’s Indian guide responded, “We’re
all Americans here.” You feel you are nervously waiting
through a dead quiet in a side parlor for Wellington to arrive
or perhaps the King’s entourage to enter and offer homage
to the fallen warrior and god king of Trafalgar. You sense that
the events which brought you to these pivotal passages in the
river are larger than you are; larger than your family is and
more important and people will look to this great moment as a
turning for a 1,000 years to come. But it is not Nelson at Trafalgar
or Lee at Appomattox . It is Bill Clinton entering a room of adoring
supporters waiting for him to do a crossword puzzle.
And that captures the essence of this downward spiral which is
the life and times of Bill Clinton starting on the day he left
office. Trafalgar and Appomattox are indeed simply bends in the
river of a tribal pre-history which brought us to this, the most
important moment in “human history” as Clinton tends
to describe the events which led up to this moment; to his moment,
the Brahma point from which all past time descends and all future
time ascends. He describes the Internet as “the fastest
growing means of communication in human history” in 1998
as he so described the cloning of Dolly. Just as he described
Hillary as co-winner of the Democratic primary last week while
addressing a group of governors.
But he would be uncomfortable with the analogy of Lee and Nelson,
even though, as Felsenthal points out, he wanted military medals
added to his official White House portrait, although he dodged
the draft and like much in this legacy, he lied about it. Likely
he envisions himself as a kind of Gandhi or Bodhiharma who saved
Africa – although one million Rwandans died on his watch
and died by the knife – and cured AIDS, much as Elvis dreamed
that he was Jesus later in his life.
This is an odyssey of gold watches and billionaire friends; bimbos,
bling and a private airplane bigger than a doublewide; and cash-raising
speeches, end on end – three in a day at up to $800,000
a pop, bringing in $46 million in just a few years. But at the
center of this political theater nothing holds. There is no Trafalgar.
There is no Appomattox . There is no center. In the center is
a maze – a crossword puzzle; a maze much like the one Dedalus
built to insulate the King and hide him from his obsession.
Felsenthal’s book brings to mind the great writing of Barbara
Tuchman; great because Tuchman creates on her canvas a pastiche
of such detail that the story which is history is revealed as
if of its own initiative. Likewise, Felsenthal, without guile,
rancor or interpretation, reveals critical details we need to
know to understand what happened to put what we have heard so
far into perspective; the conversation between Bill and Hillary
when the Monica episode is sprung to the press was quiet and loving;
that the Monica episode is characteristic of a life-long journey,
and that the key enabler in this fairly squalid story is not Bill’s
Hollywood hack producer friends or vain political panderers, but
Hillary. Like the plain girl – as Bill’s mother, Virginia,
who wore tube tops and played the ponies, described her –
who married the fancy man, she seems to expect the controversy
and maybe enjoy it, vicariously sharing in its shady celebrity.
It is the source and means of her entire public life and persona.
When the subject of Bill’s continued philandering was raised
with Hillary, she responded, says one man who knows both Clintons
well. “Screw ‘em. If they want to go vote for a pro-life
Republican, let ‘em.”
We need to hear these voices and the not so quiet and loving
voices as well: Don Hewett recalls a 60 Minutes episode about
Vernon Jordan, Bill’s golf pal, when Mike Wallace asked
him, “What do you and Bill Clinton talk about on the golf
course?” and Jordan answered, “Pussy.”
This is Bill’s story but it is also a generation’s
story; or rather, the story of that part of a generation which
came to identify with the Clintons . It is the story of that part
of the generation born to adulthood on May 4, 1970, perhaps, the
day of Kent State , of which hippie leader Jerry Rubin said, “After
Kent State you couldn’t get a girl to type your term paper
for you anymore.” Rubin declared the hippie movement dead
then and said, “Wealth creation is the real American Revolution.”
He moved on to Wall St. and that part of the generation which
sees Clinton as its avatar followed like a horde.
Felsenthal’s book tells a story of liberalism as it began
to take an unusual tack with this group, at a time when Lewis
H. Lapham, the venerable Harper’s editor, said liberals
began to enter a room in a way that seem to say look at my haircut.
And it is a story of plain people, Bill and Hillary, or people
who started out plain and today face the daily terror that history
will remember them as plain.
During his lowest moods, Felsenthal writes, Bill worried that
the business, policy, and nonprofit worlds would reject him out
of fear that their members would be offended by his very presence.
“That fed into his biggest insecurity – “ she
writes, “that he did not really belong in the elite circles
in which he mixed, the he was, after all, just white trash.”
But Felsenthal’s detailed writing reveals an ambivalence;
possibly an inherent, subliminal desire by Clinton to flaunt the
low life and vindicate the lore and mores of the poor white folk
of the agrarian South. In her subtle and skillful telling, the
Clintons begin to suggest and original Bill and Hillary counterpart
and a historic parallel which some historians have suggested came
about in opposition to the hippies and the Sixties generation:
The TV preachers Jim and Tammy Faye Baker.
Felsenthal writes: Today Bill Clinton collects high-end watches
and wears a Rolex, or a Patek Philippe or a Cartier or an Audemars
Piguet or a watch by the young German watchmaker Michael Kobold.
These are watches that cost thousands of dollars; some reach to
six figures. Clinton has about fifty watches in his collection
. . . . In 2004, when Michael Kobold, German born and only twenty-seven,
first met Clinton at a small private party, the former president
was wearing an Audemars Piguet skeleton watch that was worth well
over a hundred thousand dollars.
So many watches, so little time. She goes on and the passage
brings to mind Jim Baker holding up his gold watch and joyfully
shouting to the TV camera: See this gold watch? Jee-sus wants
you to have this gold watch.
Felsenthal tells an important story; a story which took us to
the end of the second millennium and to a continuing series of
events by a Presidential couple which historians will see perhaps
in time as a phenomenon rather than a political process, and possibly
even as a millennialist phenomenon like UFO encounters, Wormwood,
dreams of the Yellow Monk, Jerry Springer and visions of Armageddon.
I DIDN'T GIVE AT THE OFFICE
Halitosis Hall gets an ‘F’ for long-range thinking
By PHILLIPE AND JORGE
April 30, 2008 11:29:47 PM
Hats off to the brave lawmakers at Halitosis Hall! The folks
whose shortsightedness brought you our current budget mess are
quite prepared to make withering cuts to the needy, while complaining
about how hard it is to make these choices. When it comes to taking
the hit themselves, they turn tail and run like Iraqi Army soldiers.
Phillipe + Jorge refer, of course, to how the majority of State
House hindleggers are not willing to help pay for their own taxpayer-funded
health insurance packages. What a blatant and spineless cop-out
even as other state employees take it in the chops. (Or sensibly
bail out via the early retirement packages being offered, which
should do wonders for the Biggest Little’s institutional
memory and the quality of practical performance once all the experienced
workers have vamoosed.) “We feel your pain”? Not bloody
likely for these courageous souls.
When they discuss the “State House leadership,” an
oxymoron of the first water, you needn’t search for any
of their names as being willing to take the financial hit, even
as they soliloquize about how badly they feel about making tough
In reality, the tough choices are the ones they didn’t make
through the years, so we now face the hole we are in. What a wonderful
name these people give to “public service.” But don’t
worry, you will be rewarded. Wayward legislators may find a Dollar
Bill in their future.
Sleep tight, John Celona and Gerard Martineau, wherever you are.
Quote of the Week
From legendary former 60 Minutes producer Don Hewitt, via Carol
Felsenthal’s new book about finger-wagging, red-faced zipper
boy Bill Clinton, Clinton in Exile, as noted in a New York Times’
review of the book on April 28:
“[Monica Lewinsky] did more to change the world than Cleopatra,”
Hewitt said, noting that had Billary not screwed the pooch, er,
intern, while in office and put a knife into the Democrats 2000
presidential chances, “there’s not one kid who has
died in Iraq who wouldn’t be alive today.”
And yet we seriously consider putting his partner in crime, Hillary,
and the whole sordid, self-serving mess that is the Clintons back
into the White House? Or four (or 100?) more years of Bush-shit
via “Dubya” McCain?
Stop the madness and vote for Obama, who offers what we need
most — true change from the past, which got us into the
sad state the country is in.
Web Pick of the Week
Clinton in Exile: A President Out of the
Carol Felsenthal. Morrow, $25.95 (400p) ISBN 9780061231599
Taking on former President Bill Clinton, the perennial object
of America’s love-hate fascination, biographer and political
journalist Felsenthal (Citizen Newhouse: Portrait of a Media Merchant)
finds a perfect jumping-off point in Clinton’s exit from
office, following a scandalous second term, impeachment by the
House and George W. Bush’s Presidential victory. Chronicling
the week of Clinton’s transition from President to civilian,
through readjustments to suburban New York, working in Harlem,
fighting heart disease and supporting Hillary (in the Senate and
on the Presidential campaign trail), readers witness a beleaguered
“Bubba” rebuild his identity, public and private.
Felsenthal uses extensive research and new interviews to present
Clinton ’s story in personal, insightful details; it reads
like well-done fiction, starring Clinton as a plucky, unlikely
underdog, wildly popular elsewhere in the world while facing an
uphill battle at home. Felsenthal is a skilled interviewer, evincing
deft moments of revelation; his friend Tom Kean recalls introducing
Clinton, shortly after his heart surgery, to a standing ovation
from a sold-out crowd: “You could see the color come back
into his face…it was almost like somebody had done something
for him medically.” Felsenthal’s own well-considered
analysis adds depth, taking in the whole of Clinton ’s career:
“It’s as if the missteps and the pain of his presidency
were necessary to forge this enormously impressive post presidential
product.” Anyone curious, but especially those who remain
fans, will enjoy Felsenthal’s look at Clinton ’s post-presidency.
Rocky Mountain News
Clinton in Exile: A President Out of the
By Cathie Beck, Special to the Rocky
Thursday, May 22, 2008
* Nonfiction. By Carol Felsenthal. William Morrow, $25.95. Grade:
Book in a nutshell: In this look at President Bill Clinton's
life post-presidency, Felsenthal examines what drove - and continues
to drive - the very public and media-savvy man. Through interviews
with 300 Clinton colleagues, friends and detractors, she sheds
light on the motivations and misgivings of the former president,
pulling back the curtain on a leader who has been simultaneously
labeled brilliant and reckless.
Felsenthal notes that once out of office, Clinton floundered
in his new world, now devoid of limos and swarming Secret Service
agents. Uncertain how to spend his time, he conferred with colleagues,
friends and family, voicing his anxiety about how his post-presidency
would shake out and whether any new efforts could ever negate
the Lewinsky legacy. Friends reveal that he deeply regretted he
hadn't been president on Sept. 11, 2001, for the opportunity to
rise to the level of other great leaders as well as overshadow
the Lewinsky scandal.
The author details the many job offers Clinton considered - some
completely out of left field (was he really qualified to head
a Hollywood studio?). She also covers Cinton's various relationships,
including his strained friendship with Al Gore, smoothed over
on 9/11 when the two were thrown together and spent the wee hours
Best tidbit: The book doesn't overlook the complexity of Clinton's
family life, but includes a tender moment observed by a friend
at party: "When Elton (John) started to play, (Bill) came
over and sat next to Hillary and . . . underneath the table they're
holding hands, not for public view, just the two of them and Chelsea
came over and sat on her father's lap. . . . Forget about the
psychology of horsing around that went on in his life; they have
an enormously close connection and it's really a very tender one."
Pros: The author has a gentle, engaging style, alternating between
dishy People-magazine anecdotes and deeply introspective comments
from those who spent years with Clinton and seem to finally understand
why certain events took place.
Cons: She sometimes drives her points home with too many repetitive
Final word: These insights about a man who is, by all accounts,
a superb political machine are all the more interesting as we
watch Clinton in action, stumping for his wife.
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Author: Clinton ‘covets’ Nobel Peace
POSTED April 25, 3:05 AM
That Jimmy Carter — a man with whom he has strained relations
— won a Nobel Prize makes Bill Clinton “want one all
the more”; and when Al Gore won his in 2007, “Clinton’s
need for one grew exponentially.”
So writes Carol Felsenthal in “Exile in Chief,” her
new book on President Clinton’s post-presidential years.
Some of his political allies think his day will come. “[The
Clinton Global Initiative] is going to win him a Nobel Peace Prize
one of these days,” said former Rep. Tom Downey, D-N.Y.
But Hofstra history professor Stanislao Pugliese told Felsenthal
that Clinton’s motives are upside down, saying that his
efforts in Africa are geared toward “angling for the Nobel
But columnist Michael Barone thinks Clinton has another factor
on his side: “If the … Norwegians think that they
could give a poke in the eye to a Republican administration by
giving Bill Clinton a prize, I’m sure they’d be happy
to do it. That’s why Carter got his.”
Felsenthal also writes that after Clinton’s memoirs got
a lukewarm reception, he’s been eager to revisit his story.
Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley suggests he seek out a
“left-of-center kind of scholar, who could really do a nice
job explaining the president to people. But nobody would want
to enter that if President Clinton is going to whitewash all the
warts out of his biography.”