Compulsively readable account and analysis of President Clinton’s years out of office, perfectly timed for his “First Laddie” campaign.
What does a man do after leading the Free World for eight years? In Clinton’s case, apparently, he makes millions of dollars in speeches, helps eradicate global poverty and childhood obesity and angles to get his wife to succeed him in the White House. Oh, and jet around the world with billionaire playboy Ron Burkle, have alleged affairs with numerous women and derail his wife’s presidential run with excessive self-absorption. The post-presidential Clinton is quite like the Oval Office Clinton, argues Felsenthal (Princess Alice: The Life and Times of Alice Roosevelt Longworth, 2003, etc.): He has considerable gifts but is laid low by his equally large faults. The book is as ambiguous as its subject. Drawing on meticulous research (albeit mostly from press accounts), the author provides great insight into what Clinton the man is actually like, but doesn’t uncover any real news. Filled with salacious details, this a remarkably easy read, though Felsenthal’s sentences are flat. Also…her…use…of…so….many…ellipses is distracting and prompts doubts about whether she is accurately conveying the spirit of what her sources said. Clinton comes across as an immensely compelling figure easily waylaid by glamour and glitz and too self-absorbed to actually ever feel anyone else’s pain. The author compares his post-presidency to those of his good pal George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter (specifically Clinton’s pursuit of the Nobel Peace Prize). But Clinton is such a unique figure in American political history—and, if his wife wins the nomination and the election, is destined to become even more unique—that these comparisons ring hollow. Overall, the reader is left with a feeling that the last eight years of his life have been much like the previous eight: great potential easily distracted.
An enjoyable, tawdry read that covers little new ground.