The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House

By John F. Harris


The definitive account of 1 of the main comprehensive, arguable, and polarizing figures in American history

invoice Clinton is the main arresting chief of his iteration. He remodeled American politics, and his 8 years as president spawned arguments that proceed to resonate. For all that has been written approximately this singular personality–including Clinton’s personal enormous autobiography–there has been no entire, nonpartisan review of the Clinton presidency.

Few writers are as certified and outfitted to take on this giant topic because the award-winning veteran Washington submit correspondent John F. Harris, who lined Clinton for 6 of his 8 years in office–as lengthy as any reporter for an incredible newspaper. In The Survivor, Harris frames the ancient debate approximately President William Jefferson Clinton, through revealing the interior workings of the Clinton White condo and delivering the 1st aim research of Clinton’s management and its consequences.

Harris indicates Clinton getting into the Oval workplace in 1993 primed to make heritage. yet with the chilly conflict lately concluded and the rustic coming off an almost uninterrupted iteration of Republican presidents, the hot president’s access into this maelstrom of occasions was once tumultuous. His issues have been exacerbated via the behavior, own contacts, and the administration variety, he had constructed in his years as governor of Arkansas. Clinton’s enthusiasm and mood have been mythical, and he and Hillary Rodham Clinton–whose goals and ordeals additionally fill those pages–arrived packed with distrust approximately the various characters who greeted them within the “permanent Washington” that regularly holds the reins within the nation’s capital.

exhibiting dazzling doggedness and a deep-set wish to govern from the center, Clinton time and again rose to the demanding situations; finally successful over (or working over) political adversaries on each side of the aisle–sometimes dealing with as a lot skepticism from fellow Democrats as from his Republican foes. yet as Harris indicates in his money owed of political debacles akin to the tried overhaul of future health care, Clinton’s frustrations within the struggle opposed to terrorism, and the various own controversies that point and back threatened to devour his presidency, invoice Clinton might by no means be capable to outrun his tendency to prefer conciliation over readability, or his personal damaging appetites.

The Survivor is the easiest type of historical past, a booklet packed with significant revelations–the annoying dynamic of the Clinton internal circle and Clinton’s expert symbiosis with Al Gore to the imprint of Clinton’s mammoth character on household and overseas affairs–as good because the minor info that leaven all nice political narratives. This long-awaited synthesis of the dominant issues, occasions, and personalities of the Clinton years will stand because the authoritative and lasting paintings at the Clinton Presidency.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Then again, there has been not anything in these files that will have triggered the Clintons whatever greater than passing ache. there has been shoddiness, might be, yet no longer illegality. One danger that was once largely mentioned used to be that Hillary Clinton didn't want the Whitewater documents made public simply because they might spur inquiries into the connection among the president and James McDougal’s ex-wife, Susan, which used to be extensively rumored to were greater than platonic. This prurient hypothesis underscored how Whitewater, for all its arcane documents and impenetrable paper trails, continually resided within the similar local as sexual scandal.

On Bosnia, Clinton’s gamble used to be mix of strength and international relations may produce a cost finishing the struggle, with out dragging the management into an election yr quagmire within the Balkans. at the funds, his gamble was once that he had located himself to strength Republicans to strike an honorable cut price with him, or, failing that, to make sure that they bore the brunt of public blame if negotiations failed and a central authority shutdown ensued. the fall promised to be a very nervous season.

He was once after all a forgiving guy, and a pragmatic one. He had not more fierce an opponent than Tom hold up, the whip and leader surprise trooper for the home Republican majority. hold up, a pacesetter of the impeachment campaign, had expressed his contempt for Clinton repeatedly publicly, and Clinton had reciprocated the sentiment again and again privately. yet he made hold up a visitor of honor at a White residence rite selling adoption. hold up, who together with his spouse had followed foster young children from stricken backgrounds, had lately been quoted in a newspaper article accusing Clinton of being a routine cheater, even at golfing.

The crude approach of describing what Clinton used to be doing in early and center 1995 was once that he was once lurching rightward in courses and language so one can keep away from being tattooed as a liberal within the 1996 crusade. the truth, notwithstanding, is that Clinton had learned—or, extra accurately, relearned—to craft a politics that rejected effortless categorization and used to be certainly extra subtle than just embracing the main conservative place that he figured a Democrat may perhaps escape with. for instance, in mid-July, whilst Clinton waded into the thorny query of religion’s position in public lifestyles, and particularly within the public faculties, his explanations have been, as ordinary during this yr of Republican ascendancy, in part protective.

25, 1998. His frenetic efforts at Wye River: Ibid. Hillary Clinton, who was once superstitious: “Clinton Takes middle in Results,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, Nov. nine, 1998. inside days, long island congressman: Hillary Rodham Clinton, residing background, p. 483. inside a few days of Rangel’s name: Interview with senior White condo adviser. Quinn quoted Ronald Reagan’s social secretary: Sally Quinn, “Not of their again backyard: In Washington, That Letdown Feeling,” Washington publish, Nov. 2, 1998. “This is perfect”: Interview with Paul Begala.

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