The popular CNN talk-show host offers an informal memoir of the Clinton years.
King (Future Talk: Conversations about Tomorrow with Today’s Most Provocative Personalities, 1998) submits that the past eight years have been for him a continuous surprise party. He employs a self-deprecating tone, referring to himself as just “a Jew from Brooklyn” whose political instincts and predictions have proven as unreliable as anyone else’s during these bizarre times when anything goes. “Being wrong about Bill Clinton,” he acknowledges, “was becoming a second career for me.” Beginning with then–Gov. Clinton’s interminable nomination speech for Dukakis at the 1988 Democratic convention, King moves with a growing bemusement and occasional indignation through the events and personalities that have defined the decade. From Ross Perot to NAFTA to Whitewater (King says he still has some actual dirt from the failed development, an on-air gift from James McDougal) to O.J., Paula Jones, Brando, Rush, Monica, Starr, Newt, impeachment, McCain, Columbine, and Elian—on all of these (and other matters) King weighs in, frequently with quotations from the principals who appeared on his show. Often he reveals odd and engaging details, such as the moment during the O.J. trial when Judge Ito chastised Robert Shapiro for his ringing cell phone: the call was from King, who, unaware that he was the cause of the judicial tongue-lashing, was watching the moment unfold on live TV. King declares that his show “has never been about what I think and feel; it’s about how the major players in an issue think and feel. That’s why it works.” There are a few Duh Moments (“A father will never know what a mother has to endure during childbirth”), and King’s history is shaky (he twice suggests that Thomas Jefferson, who was in France at the time, worked on the Constitution), but he nicely captures “a time when crazy ideas have a way of becoming real.”
A light and likable commentary on politics and the media.