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|1||The Challenge to the Old Order||3|
|2||The Forces Are Arrayed||46|
|4||Clinton's Strategic Offensive||137|
|5||Hillary Under Siege||166|
|6||A Political Education||193|
|8||Inside the West Wing||257|
|9||Clinton's Third Way||298|
|10||Seven Days in January||318|
|11||In Starr's Chamber||380|
|12||The Reign of Witches||432|
|14||The Twenty-first Century||629|
|15||A New York State of Mind||676|
|16||The Stolen Succession||700|
|17||The Sands of Time||773|
|18||The American Conflict||788|
Barnes & Noble.com: The Clinton Wars painstakingly documents the time you spent working in the Clinton White House and, among many other episodes, your involvement in the Ken Starr Whitewater/Lewinsky investigation. When did you decide to write this book, and was it difficult to recall events you'd probably like to forget?
Sidney Blumenthal: I had a unique vantage point and a special responsibility to record what I saw for history. My book is the complete story, not only from inside the West Wing but from sources in the Congress and even from the Office of the Independent Counsel. During my work in the White House and while writing The Clinton Wars, many people, including my former colleagues, gave me crucial factual information that was not in the news accounts at the time.
If there was anything that was difficult to write about, it was the constant vilification that I was subjected to, along with others, not least the president and first lady. Starting with my first day at work, when Matt Drudge posted a defamatory lie on his Internet site smearing my wife (who was the director of the White House Fellows program) and me -- inspired by partisan right-wingers -- the falsehoods never really stopped. I describe in the book how I had to put on armor every day, wear a game face, and try not to allow myself to be distracted from the important work on the president's program. That was the case for many of us in the White House. Writing the truth about this "reign of witches" (a phrase of Thomas Jefferson's that I take for one chapter title) -- from Drudge's lie to being falsely accused of the very smear tactics of personal destruction that the right wing was engaged in -- was cathartic, not only personally but in setting the historical record straight.
B&N.com: How many times during Starr's investigation did you think, OK, it's finally over -- we can relax?
SB: After the midterm elections of 1998, almost everyone in the White House believed that the Republicans would not push forward with a partisan impeachment. They had just lost seats because of their extremism on the issue -- an unprecedented result for a midterm for a second-term incumbent president. But, as I relate in the book, through an extraordinary interview with one of the key House managers, they were living in a self-enclosed universe of their own, isolated from larger realities, in denial about the public's rejection of their plan for impeachment, and stoking up their self-image as warriors. It took a full month for us to realize that the Republicans had no intention of listening to the voters and intended to force an impeachment.
B&N.com: Should Ken Starr even have been in the position of running what seemed to many to be a partisan inquiry?
SB: At the time of his appointment, as I point out in The Clinton Wars, Ken Starr was acclaimed by the Washington establishment as a judicious figure. But he turned out to be more than temperamentally unsuited for the job. He was a weak, indecisive man who was easily won over by the appeals to toughness by his thuggish deputies. He had conflicting ties to the political right, including the Paula Jones legal team, that should have disqualified him from the post in the first place, but which he did not disclose at the time of his appointment. And he had no prosecutorial experience whatsoever, so he deferred to his rough-and-ready crew that even, as I report, called the professional prosecutors among them "commie wimps."
Starr was also a culturally narrow man, with an obsessive fixation on President Clinton and consumed with his own sense of piety, which he confused with the truth. As I report in the book, on Whitewater and all the other so-called scandals before him, his own legal counselor, Samuel Dash (famed as a former Watergate counsel), reviewed all the prosecution memos and told Starr that there was absolutely nothing to indicate wrongdoing by the Clintons and that his responsibility as a prosecutor was to drop it all. "They had nothing," Dash told me. "Zero plus zero plus zero equals zero," Dash informed him. Another of Starr's top professional prosecutors told me for The Clinton Wars: "It was clear that this was a mean-spirited, political motivated investigation."
B&N.com: You make it very clear in The Clinton Wars that Bill Clinton was well aware of the threats posed by Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, and you document his attempts to deal with them both. How much did the attention paid to Clinton's personal life distract the president from protecting the homeland?
SB: President Clinton was never distracted from the struggle against terrorism and against Osama bin Laden in particular. In August 1998, after the East Africa embassy bombings, he ordered the missile attack on bin Laden's base in Afghanistan that only barely missed killing him by hours. And there were many, many other actions taken. Unfortunately, some Republicans said that the war on terrorism was a ruse to distract from impeachment. They claimed it resembled a movie, Wag the Dog, about a president who fabricates a war. And they were encouraged in this by some in the media. But this was a very real war to President Clinton. And terrorist attacks timed for the millennium celebration were thwarted.
When we left office, the Clinton national security officials held several lengthy briefings for the incoming Bush administration, warning that terrorism was an imminent danger. I reveal in The Clinton Wars that Don Kerrick, a three-star general, who was our last deputy national security adviser, stayed on for several months into the new Bush administration, and sent its national security officials a memo stated: "We will be hit again." Kerrick said that his memo was ignored. "They were not focusing," he told me. "They didn't see terrorism as the big mega-issue that the Clinton administration saw it."
B&N.com: Coincidentally, as your book is being published, Hillary Clinton's long-awaited memoir is also just about to come out. Have you and Senator Clinton discussed your respective book projects? Have you been able to read any of her book?
SB: I did not give copies of my book to former President Clinton and Senator Clinton until it was finished. They've read it now, and they think it provides a true history and context of the times. Hillary told me she didn't know "half of it." And the former president told The New York Times: "It's a roaring good read." I haven't read Hillary's book yet, but I'm sure it tells a real story and will also be an important contribution to history. Our books will be complementary.
B&N.com: Many in politics and the media scoffed when Hillary Clinton spoke of "a vast right-wing conspiracy." In a sense, you yourself became a victim of that conspiracy, didn't you?
SB: I don't think of myself as a victim at all. I was proud to stand up against the right-wing assault on the progressive Clinton presidency and against the Constitution. I was hauled before Starr's grand jury three times because he wanted to intimidate everyone by making an example of me. I was being very critical of his bullying tactics, his political motivation, and his illegal leaking of stories to an all-too-compliant, sensationalizing media. I describe in The Clinton Wars what it was like in the grand jury to be asked endless, paranoid questions by the prosecutors, and how my speech on the courthouse steps, saying that I would not be intimidated, helped the American people to see Starr's inquisition for what it was.
B&N.com: Have you ever had a chance to confront Ken Starr privately? Is there one question you'd like to ask him?
SB: Starr never questioned a single witness in his grand jury, yet he appeared before the House Judiciary Committee as the only fact witness on the "evidence." Like the other witnesses, I never met him. The question I'd ask him is why didn't he listen to his own counselor, Sam Dash, who told him there was nothing to Whitewater and all the other pseudo-scandals and who urged him as a professional matter to wrap up the investigation with a report declaring that the Clintons had committed nothing wrong, which is what happened in the end, in any case, but only after years of tearing the country apart in his effort to get President Clinton.
B&N.com: How frustrated were the Republicans at not being able to "get" President Clinton?
SB: The effort to stop President Clinton from enacting his progressive agenda to get the country moving again began from the moment he assumed office. I describe in The Clinton Wars that when the Republicans captured the Congress in 1994, their new speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, turned more than 20 committees into investigative bodies. The Republicans were so determined to get Clinton that they were willing to lose two speakers of the House to gaudy sex scandals of their own; they were willing to attack President Clinton for his struggle against terrorism and Saddam Hussein; they were willing to prevent a resolution in the House of support for our armed forces in the Kosovo War from passing.
And, of course, the House Republican leadership and then Whip Tom DeLay especially, as I detail in the book, coerced through threats Republican members to vote for an impeachment that failed to establish any constitutional standards. Congressman Peter King, Republican of New York, told me: "Most of the pressure [on Republicans] went through the Christian right network. It happened over a ten-day period. The whole world changed."
B&N.com: Can one argue that the right wing's assault on the Clintons effectively delivered the presidency to George W. Bush, in that Al Gore was reluctant to use a scandal-battered Bill Clinton to campaign for him -- a move that might have given Gore the needed electoral votes to win.
SB: Al Gore won the popular majority of the votes handily -- and if they had been counted, he would have almost certainly have emerged as the winner in Florida. Gore's hesitance to send President Clinton out to campaign for him fostered an issue that the Republicans turned into a "character" issue about Gore. The systematic stream of stories they created about Gore as a liar and exaggerator were false and distorting, but the Republicans, through a tabloid-minded press, managed to turn Gore's image into a negative one.
In Florida, Republicans even used mob violence against county supervisors to stop the votes from being counted. Most of the votes that turned out not to be counted were cast by African Americans. When the Supreme Court gave the presidency to Bush by a vote of five to four, it was the worst case of voter suppression of black voting rights since the days of Jim Crow.
B&N.com: To play devil's advocate for a moment, in a time of war and economic malaise, why should readers want to read your book? Isn't all this "old news?"
SB: History will make its own judgment of the Clinton presidency. But I think its achievements provide clear guidelines for the future.
As I write: "The Clinton wars over the progressive presidency and its uses of government had a partisan cast, but they were not about one side versus another as in some sporting match. They focused on Clinton the man because he personified his office, but at issue was how the executive would use the instruments of government. Would they be wielded on behalf of the interests of the great majority of citizens, allowing the Constitution to be a living document for advancing the people's rights and social equality and the nation's needs -- 'the organic law,' as Lincoln called it -- and the United States to be a vital nation advancing public purposes? Or would the executive branch define the nation as a shell, a confederation of states, clearing the way for private special interests, and asserting the armed forces as the only expression of national power?"
This underlying conflict between democracy and the old order will go on. To quote the book, "Bush's efforts to repeal the progressive policies of the twentieth century were bound to provoke a new politics of crisis. The Clinton wars were over, but there would be intense conflicts to come."
Posted May 26, 2004
The Clinton Wars is a very good book about the eight years of unending legal maneuvers put forth by the right to have Clinton impeached. Yes the man has his faults, but who doesn't. If the left was has well funded as the right than the current 'president' would be in trouble. This is a very well written and informative book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 18, 2003
This novel was a breeze to read with tons of factual information on the Clinton years that were brushed past in Living History. I love this book and the same goes for Bill!!! Too bad he can't run again, I'm holding out for Hillary in 2008!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 18, 2003
I find it very interesting that the critics are surprised at the book's length. Clinton did serve for 8 years, so 100 pages per year does not seem to be too much. As for the substance of the book, it is extremely enlightening and well documented. With the facts on his side, Blumenthal is able to explain by example the problems with a political party that chooses to lead by deception (the Republicans), a media that has a strong profit motive, and a country that is sexually repressed. This is a must read for anyone that is concerned about the state of our democracy.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 13, 2003
At 800+ pages, 'The Clinton Wars' takes a while to finish, but the time and effort are well worth it. While I also enjoyed 'The Natural' and 'Living History', this book contains a broader and deeper inventory of information than both of those books, combined.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 24, 2003
Last summer, I read an out of print book about past presidents. It stated that numerous presidential administrative staffs have semi-destroyed the West Wing offices upon departing and this is actually a tradition. According to the news media when Clinton¿s staff left, the offices were destroyed, some hinted at criminal charges and no mention was ever made of the long standing tradition or the condition of the offices when Clinton began his first term. But, I also read that Clinton¿s staff attempted to break tradition by only removing the ¿W¿s on the keyboards and otherwise left the offices intact. So which is it? I read this book to find out what happened during the Clinton years from a Clinton staff member¿s point of view. I had just finished listening to Hilary Clinton¿s book, ¿Living History¿, on tape and wanted more factual information. Her book is wonderful, but I didn¿t find it convincing. ¿The Clinton Wars¿ is full of factual information such as reprints of documents, direct quotes and much of the information is footnoted. It is very convincing. Yes, the book also lists all of what the author considers Clinton¿s greatest achievements. He does not list any of former president¿s failures. I didn¿t expect to find that information in this book. If this was a definitive look at the Clinton presidency it should have had a more balanced description of the president¿s successes and failures, but it is not. This book describes what went on in the White House during the Clinton presidency while the media was lead on a full scale assault on the president, the first lady and their staff. It clearly outlines the events, sources of information, key players and their motives. After reading this I read David Brock¿s ¿Blinded by the Right¿ which was the perfect next step.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 12, 2003
This well written book is written from the vantage point of someone who had first hand knowledge of what it was like to be under attack from the 'vast right-wing conspirators'. Sidney Blumenthal tells a compelling story of his years working for and fighting for the Clinton Administration in this very informative book. We, the public, received very little information from the Clinton side and now I see why. Because of the investigation, anyone who is suppoened is not suppose to talk about the case, thus, stiffling any defensive actions. They couldn't talk to the public about much of what was going on, but Starr and his henchmen (they were almost worse than Starr) were leaking information right and left, much of it very misleading and lies. When Blumenthal, through his connections, tried to get the truth out and Starr started to look bad, they suppoened him in the Lewinsky case, even though he never knew her or knew anything about her and Clinton, to silence him. The astronomical legal fees the innocent victims of Starr amassed were certainly unjust and inhumane. This book contains a large portion dealing with the Lewinsky/Clinton/Starr war along with other personal, political (at home and abroad) wars and well as Hillary's and Gore's campaign and elections with a look at their battles. It is a book written by someone who had first-hand knowledge of those years, and who tells of his own legal battles and even though he was disappointed in Clinton's moral faux he still believes, rightly so, that the Clintons accomplished many good and beneficial things for the people of both this country and other countries. Oh, to be back in the good ole days of the Clinton administration. I have always voted for the person who I thought would do the best for all the people, regardless of party, but now I don't feel that I or my country can afford to vote for the Republicans, even though I know there are many good ones, because of how betrayed we have been by the right-wing conservatives.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 8, 2003
I am a Clinton supporter, but was, for the most part, disappointed in The Clinton Wars. At no point in this book is Blumenthal critical of Clinton or any administration policy. It is unfortunate because we need people like Blumenthal to inform us about the inner workings of the West Wing so we can begin to develop a historical analysis of the administration. If you are careful and can read past the clearly partisan tilt, there are some things that you can learn about the man and the administration, although the little useful info that is available is not worth plowing through the 800 pages. For a balanced, early analysis of Clinton read 'The Natural' by Joe Klein.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 8, 2003
Blumenthal's book does much more than re-tell the Lewinsky saga. It provides the reader with the kind of insight and exposure to life in American politics not seen in years. It evaluates the role of the press, the failure of Clinton's advisors to focus on big-picture messages and the strength of the Ken Starr crowd. Blumenthal includes some very relevant anecdotes that give the reader detailed insight into the Clinton White House. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but wish the author had more thoroughly addressed the disconnect between the press and the public.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 24, 2003
Finally, the other shoe drops. While I shared the dismay of most Americans over the excesses and sordid aspects of the Clinton presidency, I tire of the persistent neo-conservative spin, which rather categorically discounts much of the positive thrust of the Clinton years in terms of balancing the budget, accomplishing welfare reform, and creating the underlying conditions for the largest and longest economic expansion since World War Two. And while no one can seriously suggest Mr. Clinton was singularly responsible for the many accomplishments of his administrations, he certainly was a critical player in making the kind of social and economic progress Americans enjoyed during his eight-year presidency. In this massive reconsideration of the accomplishments and endeavors of the Clinton presidency, Clinton¿s former advisor Sidney Blumenthal marshals a convincing argument for the many significant milestones achieved by Bill Clinton. His personal take is fascinating as it helps lay persons to better understand the crucible of competing interests and opposed groups that scramble for a hearing and a helpful push by the President in the direction of their interests. However, the book is also a scathing examination of the sometimes not so honorable opposition, people he portrays as fanatical ideologues, arrogant pursuers such as former Independent Prosecutor Kenneth Starr, who often seemed to be making the rules, regulations and laws up as he surged in persistent pursuit of the Clintons. Starr is pictured as a man so wildly obsessed with a vendetta against the President that he eventually attempted to destroy the Clintons by smearing them with accusations of criminal conduct, lying to federal judges to gain the necessary permission to investigate the Monica Lewinsky affair, which was clearly absolutely unrelated to his purview over the so-called Whitewater Investigation he had been appointed to look into. He shred privileged information with private attorneys for Paula Jones, abrogating his duty as an officer of the federal court by aiding their civil suit against the President. And he was so outraged by the ways in which public opinion was turning against his aims to trigger the impeachment and conviction of the President that he himself ignored the profound conflict of interest implicit in impeaching his own supposed objectivity by testifying against the President to the House of Representatives. The author also has some unusual insight as to why journalists did not attack Starr for his obvious bias and zealotry. It makes for fascinating reading. He also reserves special contempt for the Republicans in Congress so blinded by what they saw as an opportunity to bring the Clinton Presidency down that they lost all semblance of fairness and objectivity, instigating such a firestorm of poisonous invective that Blumenthal now fears its effects may be felt literally for decades. Certainly, anyone assessing the current partisan atmosphere in the hallowed halls of the Capital Building, his assessment may not be far off the truth. There is much material here for someone to pore over in great detail that it is indeed a treasure trove for anyone desiring to know how the Whitewater investigation, or the many political intrigues between the Clinton White House and the partisan republicans over on ¿Capital Hill¿ that it has to be considered a unique resource for anyone interested in delving into the particulars of those much-debated years. This is a great book, and one I can heartily recommend. Enjoy!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 5, 2003
I don't know about all of you, but I think that most of the people who wanted to know the truth had figured out a long time ago that they were being fed lies about the Clintons and those that didn't want the truth, even though deep down I believe they knew the truth but didn't want to admit it, listened to the lies like sheep led to slaughter. Well, I read this book, (it took me a while as its 800 pages) and I thought it was superb. No where in this book did I not find it to not coincide with what had been going on at the time. The only thing is, I got to see it from the other side. Because of all the legal stuff, there were many instances that the president and Blumenthal could not defend themselves because they were not allowed to talk to the press. Starr supeoned Blumenthal, even though he didn't know anything about Monica as she wasn't there when he was, because he wanted to stop Blumenthal from getting to the press to let the people know what was really happening. Starr (actually some of his co-workers were worse than him)didn't like looking bad to the public. I think this book is a book that will be used as one of the more accurate and honest representations of the Clinton era for years to come. It should be used in political classes and for anyone who wants to know the truth. Everyone should be able to defend themselves. As the saying goes-'The truth shall set you free'. I believe I have read the truth and that the Clinton Administration will go down as one of the best of all times. I wish he could've had another term as we surely would be in better shape in this country with him in charge. Good work Mr. Blumenthal.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 30, 2003
Move over Joseph Goebbels, Sid Blumenthal has taken mendacity to new levels. Of course the Clinton Adminstration was pristine. It was that lose cannon and lascivious cigarette-pusher Kenneth Starr with his dirty mind. There was nothing wrong about Whitewater and the Clintons lost money, Jim Guy Tucker was framed, McDougald was a straight shooter and his wife a martyr.Jim Carville the man who said on TV that he would destroy Ken Starr gets only 4 brief mentions. Mr. Blumenthal is proud that no members of the Clinton Adminstration quit when the White House was under siege. Guess there were no honorable people there. Hillary is the greatest commodity player of all-time and Bill never played sax without woman. This opus is is better than Harry Potter as a work of pure fiction. 'That is a good book which is opened with expectation and closed in profit.' Amos Bronson AlcottWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 30, 2003
I finally get a truthful report on the Clinton years! I have known for years, as I know many have, that there was a vast right-wing conspiracy, but because of the lies told to us never got to know all of the facts. This an informative book, a long book, that has taken me longer to read than most because I have wanted to take my time to absorb it all. You can read it much faster than me because it is written in such a uncomplicated way. The meanness and cruelty of the Starr investigation is in here. You will read about the innocent victims of Starr's witch-hunt and how the legal fees destroyed them. You will read about the political, international, Lewinsky/Clinton/Starr and all the other battles that took place. You will hear about the good that Clinton did during his years in office, like securing enough money to keep our Social Security money safe, only he didn't count on Bush's group destroying that safety factor (almost like he wants the people to be poor and helpless), the job rates were so much better, economy the best in thirty years, etc. This is an important book to read so that you can, at least, get the look at the other side. While I don't condone Clinton's actions with Monica, it DID NOT affect the running of his office. It was not illegal or any of my nor anybody else's business. The time for us to object was before we elected him as there was already the hint with Gennifer Flowers and yet the people spoke and still elected him, rightly so. The media and those who told the lies were the ones who besmurched the presidential office and our country, they were the ones who gave our country a bad name. The very ones who did this would have a hard time looking any better (worse) under the same kind of scrutiny, in fact, I doubt if they will have such an easy time when they have to face their maker and explain their actions. President Clinton (and Hillary (future?)) will go down in history as being one of the greatest presidents of all time. Already the people are wishing he was back in office when times were good. Great book, very informative and worth every penny!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 26, 2003
It is unfortunate that book reviewers in noted newspapers have panned The Clinton Wars. The book exposes reporters of the Starr era. It is filled with historical context as well as insider reporting of the making of The Starr Report. Anyone interested in understanding the power of a few angry white men in Washington will appreciate this book. I hope that Mr. Blumenthal is working on a follow-up. This is loaded with verifiable facts and thoughtful exposition, laced with history.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 15, 2003
Posted June 12, 2003
I enjoyed this book immensely and allthough it was not an eye opener for 'dirty' politics it was refreshing to read again the lack of decency so called human beings would act in such a treacherous and out right evil way to discredit another human being. The saddest part of this novel is how the media fed us (the public) this garbage without checking even the most outrageous claim for any resemblance of making sure it was true.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 11, 2003
While it was interesting to see Clinton put in a good light, Blumenthal's attempt to slam the evil conservatives only succeeds in showing us his own narrow-minded liberal fantasy-land.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 29, 2003
Unquestionably, Sidney Blumenthal has the credentials to write a balanced history of the Clinton White House. It is a pity that he has failed to do so, opting, instead, to devote 800+ pages to grinding old political axes. Democrats and Republicans who experienced the Clinton years are entitled to something more than what 'Wars' turns out to be: a cloying exercise in self-indulgence.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 26, 2003
Blumenthal details the vicious, right wing, extremist Clinton haters: Liddy, Hannity, O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Gingrich, Barr, Starr, etc...etc... who spent every waking moment of their sad lives trying to destroy Bill Clinton...and Blumenthal shows how the conservatives failed..and succeded in that effort. This book is a must read for anyone-liberal, moderate or conservative--who wishes to understand the ugly underbelly of politics in America today. He also shows that those radicals are now in charge of all three branches of government.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.