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The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr

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  • Posted May 13, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Knight's Tale for the 20th Century

    It this book objective? For the true believers on either side of the Clinton/Starr debate, the answer is no. But, for everyone else, this book is extremely enlightening. In the end, however, it becomes quite clear that Ken Starr had no business as a prosecutor in a case of this nature, and his reliance upon professional prosecutors only worsened his ability to use judgment. President Clinton, on the other hand, made it too easy for overly aggressive prosecutors to paint a target on his back. And, Judge Susan Webber Wright allowed totally irrelevant testimony (as she later ruled) to help create a political nightmare that really had nothing to do with the country.
    I am from Arkansas. So, I had some concerns at the start of the book when I noticed numerous basic errors about the State. These are not errors of interpretation, but factual errors. For example, Mr. Gormley states that Frank White, with the help of Justice Jim Johnson, defeated President Clinton in an early congressional race. It was a gubenatorial battle. So, I asked whether this kind of blatant error could occur again, and if so, how could I tell.
    Towards the end of the book, as he juxtaposed comments from Mr. Starr and his staff as to why they were not zealots, he also used "quotes," about how they had the President "in their sights." Even prosecutors are supposed to want fairness and justice, not a target. So, either the prosecutors were zealots, or Mr. Gormley is biased in his account. I choose to believe the former, but many will believe the latter.
    These flaws notwithstanding, it is an excellent work of fairly contemporary history for those who wish to place things in order. One of the most difficult aspects of Whitewater, and the various investigations, is how they were linked. How, for example, did a cable television case for Arkansas Governor Jim Guy Tucker relate to claims that Monica Lewinsky had sexual relations with the President in the White House? Mr. Gormley guides these kinds of connections very carefully, and provides good understanding and insight.
    A weakness of the work, however, is the failure to pose the question to the various prosecutors, "so, why was it really that important?" While it might offend the perfect person that a married man would be dishonest about his affair, or liaison, with another woman, the law is designed to deal with the reasonable man. Was it really so important to pursue that avenue as a possible ground for impeachment? Further, while Mr. Gormley gives a "stated reason," that the Starr report read like the letters in Hustler's advice column, there is really no challenge to the parties as to why they ever believed that was necessary for an impeachable offense. Or, why did Mr. Gormley not follow up with Henry Hyde on the question of the failure of the House of Representatives to carefully read the Starr report and develop a new set of evidence to provide to the Senate, instead of just relying on the Starr Report as the evidence.
    The key, though, is that without a dispassionate presentation of all the twists and turns of this challenging time in American history, the ability to ask these various questions would be impossible. While President Clinton can correctly state that certain things should not have occurred, this is an insufficient explanation for why they occurred. And, without reading this book, one is not able to even ask the right questions. Read it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2010

    America's Virtue did not die with Clinton.

    Virtue means "moral excellence." If indeed America's virtue is waining, it began to decline a few generations ago, not with Bill Clinton. Our system of education no longer teaches morality and ethics; the Socratic "the unexamined life is not worth living" is still in its Cave of Illusion. We The People continue to elect leaders who are emotional invalids, narcissistic, rich and powerful,controlled by corporations and institutions, selling America and our jobs, to China, Russia, Japan and others, like a cheap prostitute. Virtue also means mental health, personality integration. Since we do not teach these to our children, how do we expect our leaders to behave? We have taught them well!!

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 20, 2010

    A COMPELLING READ

    Being a true political junkie, this is one of the most compelling and truly "readable" stories I've found. Surely this is the definitive account of the entire Starr v Clinton saga: The author is to be commended for tackling this exhaustive story, and for obtaining first-hand background information from nearly all participants, while most of the "cast of characters" are still alive.

    Don't be put off by the 780+ pages: At least twice as lengthy as most books, but with no wasted words.

    The author apparently had no "agenda", and presents a relatively unbiased account from all perspectives: From Linda Tripp to Susan McDougal to Ken Starr and Bill Clinton. Apparently the only interview he didn't get was Hillary Clinton's.

    Nevertheless, the last impression is that while Bill Clinton - still as glib as ever - has serious personal, emotional and even addictive flaws: Ken Starr, despite his protestations, definitely had an agenda, and was a poor choice to conduct the investigation. While Starr and his supporters might justify his actions on legal or quasi-legal grounds, he lacked both the impartiality and "gravitas" to be in that position.

    The House managers, led by Henry Hyde, come off as sanctimonious fools: So bent on "getting" Clinton and so over-reaching that the Nation accurately saw them as even more guilty than Clinton.

    Love to see this become a movie. Charlie Sheen can play Bill Clinton...maybe Ken Starr can play himself.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2010

    Virtual History Book

    Mr Gormley has written an interesting story book of interesting times in recent history. Apparently he has glossed over the certain facts that happened with Clinton and dwells with a sort of back slap to Ken Starr who was only doing what he was hired to do after the initial Fiske appointment was ready to end the whitewash. Maybe the author received his new position at the D.U. law school by adhering to political facts. Don't get me wrong, this is an interesting to read 780 page book but like the history books in the educational system today (high school and college)configures history to blend with the main stream media. Hopefully the author has backed off his karate posturing at certain venues.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    For those who followed the story...

    I found the book to be poetic and enlighting. It gives the history and the relationship of both players: Clinton and Starr. How similar their backgrounds were yet very different. Both men had ambitions that would soon lead them to the top of their professional careers, what brought these two men to power would soon expose the secrets and mishaps of a series of unfortunate events. I recommend this book, for those who love the back room news of politics: this is a good read, and for those who are Clinton or Starr fans this is also a good read.

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  • Posted February 27, 2010

    O-****

    Well said. The decline of American virtue did indeed begin several years ago; it found its metaphor in Bill Clinton via talk radio. Honesty and transparency is an anachronism. If it existed at all...

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This is old News

    I am glad that President Clinton Did not die. I thank that Ken Starr was and still is as bad for the U.S.A. as Osama Bin Laudan. The Republicans and all there friends can go you know where.

    0 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted January 29, 2011

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    Posted February 13, 2011

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