June 19, 2004

NYT Book Review on Bubba's book: "Sloppy; Dull."

In tomorrow's edition, the New York Times Book Review excoriated Bill Clinton's My Life, which is being released this weekend to much pomp and circumstance.

The book, which weighs in at more than 950 pages, is sloppy, self-indulgent and often eye-crossingly dull — the sound of one man prattling away, not for the reader, but for himself and some distant recording angel of history.

In many ways, the book is a mirror of Mr. Clinton's presidency: lack of discipline leading to squandered opportunities; high expectations, undermined by self-indulgence and scattered concentration.

While Dan Rather, who interviewed Mr. Clinton for "60 Minutes," has already compared the book to the memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, arguably the most richly satisfying autobiography by an American president, "My Life" has little of that classic's unsparing candor or historical perspective. Instead, it devolves into a hodgepodge of jottings: part policy primer, part 12-step confessional, part stump speech and part presidential archive, all, it seems, hurriedly written and even more hurriedly edited.

"My Life" reads like a messy pastiche of everything that Mr. Clinton ever remembered and wanted to set down in print; he even describes the time he got up at 4 a.m. to watch the inaugural ceremonies for Nigeria's new president on TV. There are endless litanies of meals eaten, speeches delivered, voters greeted and turkeys pardoned. There are some fascinating sections about Mr. Clinton's efforts to negotiate a Middle East peace agreement (at one point, he suggests that Yasir Arafat seemed confused, not fully in command of the facts and possibly no longer at the top of his game), but there are also tedious descriptions of long-ago political debates in Arkansas over utility regulation and car license fees .

Part of the problem, of course, is that Mr. Clinton is concerned, here, with cementing — or establishing — his legacy, while at the same time boosting (or at least not undermining) the political career of his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton. He does a persuasive job of explicating his more successful initiatives like welfare reform and deficit reduction, but the failure of his health care initiative, overseen by Mrs. Clinton, is quickly glossed over, as is the subsequent focus of his administration on such small-bore initiatives as school uniforms and teenage smoking.

Bubba seems to have forgotten rule number one: tell an engaging story.

Of course, his friends on the Democratic side of the aisle will quickly gloss over this oh, so important review from the Nation's leading book review publication, and focus on the televised ass-kissing from Oprah Winfrey this coming Tuesday, and the softball interview by Dan Rather on tomorrow night's 60 Minutes.

Sorry, Bubba. Sounds like your wife even writes better than you do.

Posted by mhking at June 19, 2004 08:34 PM

I haven't read the Clintons' books, but I did read Grant's, and Dan Rather must be on drugs to compare them! Grant's book is truly extraordinary.

Posted by: Fausta at June 20, 2004 09:32 AM

Sloppy and dull sums up the Clintons. However the devil is in the details and the sloppy part of the Clinton years is that he purposefully or not, allowed the Islamofascists to grow and thrive, and the dull part was taking taxpayers for ride, spending our money on wild sprees of nation hopping taking as many as 1,800 people with him while expounding far and wide all the while on the evil that is the United States to adoring multitudes.

Funny thing is he's still doing it, but is anybody buying it anymore?

Can it be that even the smallest pea brain on the left has finally figured out that the Clinton's are totally self-absorbed and care for nothing other than their own bottom line.

Posted by: erp at June 21, 2004 07:32 AM
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