Government Girl: Young and Female in the White House [NOOK Book]


A memoir of being young and female in the clinton White House

Stacy Parker Aab was born in Detroit in 1974, the only daughter of a white Kansas farm girl and a young black Detroiter fresh from two tours of Vietnam. An excellent student, Aab gravitated toward public service and moved to Washington, D.C., for college in the hopeful days of 1992.

Not only would Aab study political communication at The George Washington University, but she would ...

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Government Girl: Young and Female in the White House

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A memoir of being young and female in the clinton White House

Stacy Parker Aab was born in Detroit in 1974, the only daughter of a white Kansas farm girl and a young black Detroiter fresh from two tours of Vietnam. An excellent student, Aab gravitated toward public service and moved to Washington, D.C., for college in the hopeful days of 1992.

Not only would Aab study political communication at The George Washington University, but she would also intern at the White House. For three years, she worked for George Stephanopoulos. In 1997 she became White House staff, serving as Paul Begala's special assistant.

At first, life was charmed, with nurturing mentors, superstar politicos, and handsome Secret Service agents. In January 1998, the world of the Clinton White House changed radically. Monica Lewinsky became a household name, and Aab learned quickly that in Washington, protectors can become predators, investigators will chase you like prey, and if you make mistakes with a powerful man, the world will turn your name into mud.

Government Girl is a window into the culture of the Clinton White House, as seen through the eyes of an idealistic young female aide. Stacy Parker Aab's intimate memoir tells of her coming-of-age in the lion's den. Her story provides a searing look at the dynamics between smart young women and the influential older men who often hold the keys to their dreams.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A young staffer in the Clinton White House when the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, Parker Aab effectively re-creates the heady excitement of working among powerful personages in the upper echelons of government. A native of suburban Detroit and then an 18-year-old scholarship student at George Washington University, Aab née Parker possessed sterling credentials in civil and community service when she was selected to intern during the summer of 1993 for George Stephanopoulos’s press office in the Old Executive Office Building. She answered the reams of fan mail that poured in and trained the other interns; her job eventually led to a staff position, as well as work doing presidential advance planning, which entailed traveling with Clinton’s team and booking overnight accommodations. Tall and attractive, Parker soon learned where the power resided, e.g., with men such as Vernon Jordan, who offered professional advice freely over meals. When the Lewinsky details erupted in January 1998, Parker and her office under Paul Begala felt betrayed, though somehow unsurprised. Her memoir is well polished, and despite a few suggestive anecdotes about Vernon and Clinton, is mercifully free of salacious revelations. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Aab worked in the Clinton White House as an intern, first in the communications office run by George Stephanopoulos and later on the staff of consultant Paul Begala. She was fascinated by the powerful people surrounding her, and her writing indicates not just her confidence but her sense of vulnerability and need for recognition. Aab opens the book with a somewhat suggestive account of a "close encounter" with President Clinton while doing advance work for his 2000 G8 summit trip to Japan. Men in the Clinton circle did befriend her; Vernon Jordan occasionally invited her to dinner, and during the Kenneth Starr investigations, she was deposed about that relationship. Aab knew Monica Lewinsky only slightly, but her experiences provide insight into the Lewinsky scandal by showing how easily such young, ambitious women can be influenced by the powerful men they meet. VERDICT Aab's chronology is sometimes hard to follow, and her accounts of personal relationships can display a youthful naïveté. However, her descriptions of the less-than-glamorous life of a White House intern/staffer are intriguing. Recommended for readers interested in this kind of view of White House operations, especially young women considering a similar career path.—Jill Ortner, SUNY at Buffalo Libs.
Kirkus Reviews
This memoir by a first-time author aims to rescue the phrase "White House intern" from infamy-not an easy task since Monica Lewinsky. Huffington Post contributor Aab largely succeeds by relating her experiences as an idealistic, ambitious young woman working and learning among the charismatic men (and women) at the highest levels of government. She honors the noble impulse toward public service, even as she is candid about the dangerously erotic charge of being in the presence of power. As an intern in the office of White House Communications Director George Stephanopoulos while studying political science at George Washington University, Aab knew the young woman at the center of the scandal that almost brought down the Clinton Administration. While nonsalaried staff held down the fort one night during the government shutdown of 1995, the president even brought the author a slice of the very pizza that started his trouble with that other intern. She tells of instances of unwanted attention she received from President Clinton and his friend Vernon Jordan, but she provides a nuanced portrait of these men, whom she still admires. "Like a row of TVs turned to different stations," she writes, "they could exude nurturing love as much as they did sexual desire, and there were times I chose to keep my eyes on the nurturing love show and ignore the others." She contrasts the complicated Clinton and Jordan with her bosses Stephanopoulos and, later, Paul Begala, whom she admires unreservedly for being "spiritual" and self-restrained. However, the book is not a paean to famous and powerful men, and Aab is an interesting subject in her own right: the driven daughter of a white nurse from Kansas and ablack Army veteran from Detroit who died young from the effects of alcoholism, and an insightful observer of history-making atmosphere in which she worked. A nicely written, mildly spicy memoir of the Clinton White House. Author events in New York and Washington, D.C. Agent: Lisa Bankoff/ICM
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061966224
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/19/2010
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • File size: 532 KB

Meet the Author

Stacy Parker Aab

Stacy Parker Aab has written political and social commentary for The Huffington Post and, and served as the primary contributor to Voices from the Storm: The People of New Orleans on Hurricane Katrina and Its Aftermath. She continues to work on Katrina-related research projects.

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Table of Contents

1 Down for the Night 1

I Intern

2 Entrée 19

3 Paradise City 33

4 Nineteen Candles 52

5 White Gloves 69

6 This Kind of Intimacy 85

7 Trespassers 100

8 Advice from Vernon Jordan 121

9 The Trouble with Agents 136

II Staff

10 Welcome Back, Swimmer 153

11 Family Reunions 170

12 Cliffside at the Abyss 176

13 Truth, Lies, and Background Checks 192

14 To Be Alone with a Powerful Man 206

15 Bunk Beds in the Hamptons 226

16 Glass, Girl 252

III After

17 The Trouble with Power 271

18 Government Girls in the Age of Obama 281

Acknowledgements 293

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 6 of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 5, 2010

    Recommended for young, idealistic politicos and jaded oldsters alike.

    Stacy provides a personal, up-close peek into life in and around the White House during the Clinton years. This personal memoir is honest, balancing personalities and her forthright personal feelings.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    For any one who has worked in DC

    Anybody who has worked/interned in DC will empathize with the realities of being young and around the halls of power. As a former hill intern at around the same time, it so refreshing to read a first hand account of what it is really like.

    I also recommend this to anyone seeking to find their career path. It is a lesson to us all, to find our true passions and leverage our current resources to achieve a goal.

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  • Posted March 1, 2010

    Great Memoir, Great Story

    My expectations were high for this book, and they were met and exceeded. I must disclose that I know the author, so I know how willfully passionate, bitingly funny, and refreshingly joyful she is. I don't know her so well, however, that I'd give her a pass (and a good review) just for having something published.

    In a book filled with the boldface names of the Clinton years-Vernon Jordan, George Stephanopoulos, Paul Begala, Monica Lewinsky, and, naturally, the Clinton Triumvirate-Stacy's own story is the one that comes across most clearly and compellingly, no small accomplishment given how easily THE story could have eclipsed HER story.

    One of my favorite moments comes when she recounts her trip to New York as a winner of a Glamour magazine contest. It evoked Sylvia Plath/Esther Greenwood's magazine contest experience, but only inasmuch as it demonstrated how driven by happiness her life is in comparison to Plath's.

    Not that she skips through life oblivious to the weight of a thousand worlds on her shoulders. The book provides excellent insight into the way working in politics feels like working hundreds of feet below sea level in an unpressurized submarine, where having a system in place for sorting the communications director's fan mail, and a Type-A overachiever in charge of running the system, is as mission critical as knowing where the guy with the football sleeps.

    But it also showed how those Type-A overachievers, a phrase I use with much respect and admiration, as I hope to be one again some day, get in a place where they can even score a White House internship when they are only 18 and their parents aren't maxed-out federal campaign donors.

    And, it showed how even those kids, the ones who did Model UN and Girls' Nation and debate, aren't so risk-averse that they won't commit fraud to tear it up in urban dance clubs before they turn 18.

    Stacy's exuberant embrace of political service, even in the face of the deeply disappointing scandals of the Clinton presidency, is what earns her Andrei Codrescu's book-jacket acclamation:

    "Stacy Parker Aab's journey of self-discovery makes for a delightful page-turner, a classic coming-of-age story that will inspire the young to take up public service."

    A delightful page-turner would, in itself, be a remarkable accomplishment for a first-time author. Winning an endorsement from Andrei Codrescu is another. I agree with him, however, that Stacy accomplishes even more, writing a book that shows you just what you'd be getting into if you got involved in politics and public service, and exactly how rewarding it would be no matter how bad it got.

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  • Posted February 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting view into one aspect of life in the Clinton White House

    I found this book to be an interesting looking into one aspect of life in the Clinton White House. I enjoyed reading Ms. Aab's book. It was interesting to see how she went back and forth between her childhood experiences and her time serving as an intern, and later as staff, in the White House.

    FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through a First Reads giveaway.

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  • Posted January 20, 2010

    Government Girl - Book Review

    As the subtitle alludes, Government Girl biographically tells the reader what it was like to be "Young and Female in the White House" during the Clinton administration, not so much focusing on the policies and laws that were getting pushed through, nor even a who's who of the major players, but on what it felt like to be working in an environment surrounded by these major players.

    Parker Aab, now 35, was born in Detroit, MI. Her family moved to the suburbs in her youth. From there she attended George Washington University and started as an intern under George Stephanopoulos when she was only 18. At the beginning we see Parker Aab wide eyed , looking to measure up and make a difference. She's detached from the personal aspects of working in the White House and, like many of us starting our own careers, looking to live up to the standard she sees people like Clinton and Stephanopoulos as having attained. She wants to do good for the people she sees as doing good for her country.

    Parker Aab is just out of high school and star struck. And who can blame her? As the book moves on, she starts developing relationships with other White House interns, staff and advisers. In these passages of the book, she shows insecurity about being good enough for the job. Parker Aab talks about craving attention from these powerful people. My first reaction was to scoff a little, but after brief contemplation, I had to be honest with myself. I do the same thing. We all do. When we see someone as brilliant, we crave their attention, whether they are politicians or musicians or authors, etc. We want them to see something in us that we aren't sure of or that we don't see at all. She brings up Kundera's concept of poetic memory: the place where our brain stores things that moves us. I certainly get moved by the uber programmers at work. I love when they take time to show me something cool because I can only assume they do it because they see me as becoming one of them. And in being honest, I have to admit, just as Parker Aab does, that there is a certain kind attraction to these people.

    In this context it's easy to understand how Parker Aab could at one time crave the attention and question the motives of people like FBI Special Agents, Vernon Jordon or even President Clinton. Even after marrying a completely brilliant woman, I can't say that having the President think to grab me a slice of pizza or Vernon Jordan invite me to dinner wouldn't totally throw me.

    This is what takes this Government Girl from being a run of the mill telling of life in politics to a compelling understanding of something most of us will never experience. Parker Aab brings humanity to the White House. Her own journey is not about becoming disillusioned with politics, but about demystifying herself as well as these public figures that have become so big that it's hard to see them as regular people who may have flaws. In the end, there are no regrets, but certainly a new understanding and even empathy for what goes through the brain of someone like President Clinton on a daily basis.

    As much as Government Girl is about what it feels like to be a young, black woman working in politics, it's more about what it feels like to be human, whether you are a young, black woman working in politics, a senior White House staff member defending your boss when he does something that you don't agree with or even the President himself.

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  • Posted January 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    An excellent memoir!

    Much to my complete surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

    I'm not much for memoirs. In fact, most of the time I'm lucky to get 2/3s of the way through a memoir before becoming bored and moving on to something else. Not so with Stacy Parker Aab's "Government Girl."

    I thought this book might focus extensively on the Monica Lewinsky scandal, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that Lewinsky was only one of many characters introduced in this book, and certainly didn't play a particularly prominent role.

    The book was exactly as it should've been; the experiences of a young woman coming of age while working directly with White House staff during the Clinton Administration, and how that young woman learned to juggle the personalities and politics within the politics.

    Truly an excellent read.

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