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 a black 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.