Behind the Oval Office: Winning the Presidency in the Nineties

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Dick Morris has written the ultimate inside story about the dramatic reelection of President Clinton, one that is certain to stir controversy about the way politics really works in America today. No one before has so vividly described what policy advisers, pollsters, and advertisers do behind the scenes in the Oval Office. And no one has so acutely identified the new political forces that are dominating America today.

Dick Morris was, as Time ...
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Overview

Dick Morris has written the ultimate inside story about the dramatic reelection of President Clinton, one that is certain to stir controversy about the way politics really works in America today. No one before has so vividly described what policy advisers, pollsters, and advertisers do behind the scenes in the Oval Office. And no one has so acutely identified the new political forces that are dominating America today.

Dick Morris was, as Time magazine put it, the most influential private citizen in America. He was President Clinton's secret election strategist, invited to advise the demoralized president in the wake of the midterm debacle of 1994 that gave Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole control of Congress and, it seemed, a certain Republican victory in the 1996 presidential campaign. It did not turn out that way. Clinton made the biggest comeback in the history of modern politics, and he did it largely because of his partnership with Dick Morris, the man whose remarkable political insights helped Clinton become governor of Arkansas in 1978 and rescued him from defeat in 1982. They had a rapport that Clinton himself has called "probably unique in American history."

The assignment after the 1994 Republican congressional victory began in utmost secrecy. Morris, who had to cross the road from being adviser to Republicans such as William Weld, Dan Coats, and Trent Lott, was for months known only as Charlie, an unknown source calling Clinton's private White House telephone number. None of Clinton's Cabinet or inner circle knew anything about this, and they could not understand why Clinton began speaking in a new voice. When Clinton decided he needed Morris in the WhiteHouse working with others, Morris became an object of intense scrutiny, speculation, and envy. He was Washington's great mystery man. He refused on-the-record press interviews. He was controversial. But he succeeded brilliantly. He laid the foundation for Clinton's return to the White House for a second term. He decided to write a book about it all—about his view of Clinton, his own role, and his perception of a change in the mood of the voters. In August, the president asked Morris to wait until after the election to write this book and to make it "right for Bill Clinton and right for Dick Morris."

And then Morris blew it.

On a day to savor his triumph, on the day when a resurgent Clinton addressed the Democratic Convention, Morris was on the way out in disgrace: revealed as having had a relationship with a prostitute who claimed he talked freely of his work for the president.

In Behind the Oval Office, Dick Morris makes no excuses for his personal conduct. He is candid about it—painfully so—contemplating the wreckage of his career and the damage to his marriage. But with his book he achieves something significant on three levels. Shedding light on the unseen forces that drive politics today, he reveals just how the Republicans were routed by a combination of a Democratic shift to the center and an unprecedented and secret selling strategy. We have a box-seat view of the struggles in the White House for the soul of the Democratic party. We are taken deep into the hidden relationship between President Clinton and Republican Senate leader Trent Lott. The author explains how the deals they cut formulated the laws they passed—laws that doomed Dole's bid for the presidency.

And then there is William Jefferson Clinton. Morris gives us a three-dimensional portrait of the man and the politician. He draws on their twenty-year relationship to explain Clinton to us so vividly, with such new perspective, that we meet him as if for the first time. Morris lets us finally understand Bill Clinton and gives us vital clues about what he will do for the next four years. And we see Hillary Rodham Clinton at work and at home, facing up to political storms and adding her voice to the disputations about which way the Democrats should go.

Finally, Morris, the master of polling, gives us a surprising perspective on the values and desires of America, the key that enabled Clinton to respond and unlock the door to a second term in the White House, the first Democratic president to achieve that in fifty years.

This is an extraordinary book with a compelling narrative and incisive analysis by a political operator of unparalleled experience. It is filled with insights, touched with pathos. It is must reading for everyone who cares about the future of American democracy.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Fewer than six months after resigning in disgrace after being caught with a prostitute, Morris, Clinton's pollster/strategist, offers his side of the story. He reveals little about the scandal and fails to convince the reader that he was a major White House player. His constant feuding with many administration officials, notably Leon Panetta, White House chief of staff, and Harold Ickes, assistant chief, makes him appear petty. Morris is credited with developing Clinton's triangulation strategy, which may be viewed as either an attempted moderation of the Democratic Party or a sellout to Republican interests for votes. He writes dully about policy issues....Morris unintentionally shows that polling and promotion are no substitutes for planning and leadership. -- Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Township Library, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
Library Journal
Fewer than six months after resigning in disgrace after being caught with a prostitute, Morris, Clinton's pollster/strategist, offers his side of the story. He reveals little about the scandal and fails to convince the reader that he was a major White House player. His constant feuding with many administration officials, notably Leon Panetta, White House chief of staff, and Harold Ickes, assistant chief, makes him appear petty. Morris is credited with developing Clinton's triangulation strategy, which may be viewed as either an attempted moderation of the Democratic Party or a sellout to Republican interests for votes. He writes dully about policy issues....Morris unintentionally shows that polling and promotion are no substitutes for planning and leadership. -- Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Township Library, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679457473
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/18/1997
  • Pages: 359
  • Product dimensions: 6.48 (w) x 9.64 (h) x 1.35 (d)

Meet the Author

Dick Morris
Dick Morris, 49, has long been a pioneer and maverick in the world of political consultants. He was among the first consultants to work full-time in the field and through the years has gained a reputation for using sophisticated polling techniques to develop issues-oriented campaigns, culminating in President Clinton's 1996 election. Morris grew up on Manhattan's Upper West Side and graduated from Columbia University.
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