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Clintons' 'Good Soldier' Explains All Those Messes
The New York Times ^ | 5/15/2003 | JANET MASLIN

Posted on 05/15/2003 1:03:55 PM PDT by Utah Girl

When her book "It Takes a Village" was published in 1996, Hillary Rodham Clinton was assailed for not mentioning the ghostwriter who had been paid $120,000 to help. Her aide and confidant Sidney Blumenthal is now ready to set the record straight on this Clinton contretemps and hundreds of others. His most often repeated assertion, throughout an 800-plus-page memoir and political treatise, is this: "The charge was, of course, completely false."

Writing throughout "The Clinton Wars" with the patience of a schoolteacher aiding the benighted, Mr. Blumenthal explains that Mrs. Clinton has proof that she wrote the book herself. But why no mention of a hired collaborator? "Because, she decided, no matter how endless the list, some of the many, many people who had helped her were bound to feel that they had been left off."

Not for nothing does Mr. Blumenthal, a former White House senior adviser, identify himself as the Clinton administration's "good soldier" and "first knight." If this is not sufficient proof of Mr. Blumenthal's devotion, the book's chapters have titles like "Hillary Under Siege," "The Reign of Witches" and "The Stolen Succession."

Beyond his intention to set the record straight on controversies that plagued the Clinton presidency, Mr. Blumenthal has a more personal agenda. Barely mentioning others close to the Clintons, and illustrating this memoir with smiling, convivial photographs of himself in their company (though much of the book is about others, like the less lovable Kenneth W. Starr), Mr. Blumenthal sends a clear message to his administration colleagues: Mom liked me best.

It's easy to see why. His loyalty extends to describing the administration's Republican enemies as "velociraptors in bow ties" and to explaining that President Bill Clinton "reflected upon the nature of sex and memory" when he gave vague answers to graphic grand jury questions about Monica S. Lewinsky. In discussing the first whiff of scandal to affect this presidency — and, Mr. Blumenthal says, to pave the way for widespread, snowballing hysteria from the press — he recounts a conversation with the first lady. "She spoke frankly," he writes, "explaining Whitewater's emptiness."

Such acrobatic feats of protectiveness — and they are endless here — take their toll. The most strained parts of this overlong but highly readable tome are the sections that strive for supercilious calm rather than honest anger.

But when he is not reflexively leaping to the defense or larding this book with speeches, memos, itineraries and bureaucratic tedium ("Then he held a forum on the subject of global warming"), Mr. Blumenthal has an insider's vantage point and a truckload of righteous indignation. He can recall, after all, being called "just a scummy guy" by the chief lobbyist for Enron.

A long career in journalism (including writing "Letter From Washington" columns for The New Yorker) preceded Mr. Blumenthal's entry to the White House inner circle. As a result, he observes like a reporter. (In describing how his "lubricated" former friend, Christopher Hitchens, betrayed him, Mr. Blumenthal describes a meeting in a restaurant. It is duly noted that Mr. Hitchens ran up a bar bill of $18.84 before Mr. Blumenthal arrived.) And he debates like a lawyer. The "proper comparison" to Mrs. Clinton's role in her husband's administration, he says, "is not to any previous first lady but to Robert F. Kennedy."

About the Whitewater investigation, he writes: "It would be wrong to say that conjecture in the media swamped the basic facts because those facts were not reported. The facts would have upset the way they were telling the story, so there were no facts." At another point, citing his responsibilities as a liaison to the press, he notes, "I had to bring to reporters' attention the facts that otherwise might elude them."

Certainly "The Clinton Wars" can point to baseless, breathless news coverage as a catalyst to the Kafkaesque. Among the most compelling of Mr. Blumenthal's memories are those of being demonized from the first day he arrived at the White House. What did he find on the Internet ("a groundbreaking technique in political character assassination") but a report that Mr. Blumenthal had beaten his wife, which was certainly news to both of them. His effort to avenge himself legally against America Online and the Drudge Report Web site is just the first part of the firsthand nightmare he describes.

His accounts of being subpoenaed and questioned about the president by Mr. Starr's staff are among his book's most persuasive and credible passages. "The grand-jury room was the setting not for a histrionic hearing but for a shabby police procedural," he writes, upon first being summoned. Later, while dissecting the independent prosecutor's activities, he notes that "Starr's list of designated high crimes included one — deceiving the public — that would arguably have required an impeachment trial for every politician seated before him."

"The Clinton Wars" means to solidify Mr. Blumenthal's place in history. He wrote memos and speeches (included here for the reader to enjoy). He gave valued advice. He came up with the slogan "One America," which, he helpfully points out, is "an updating of `E pluribus unum.' " He introduced President Clinton to a promising British politician named Tony Blair. And he was often in the presence of greatness. "I once sat with the president and Tony Blair as, in about 15 minutes, the two men easily thrashed out a prickly trade problem involving bananas and cashmere," he reveals.

But the legacy he is most intent on lauding is of course the Clintons'. This is a book in which "the Democrats roared" while "the Republicans silently glowered." It's one in which the first lady's running for the Senate from New York "could not but flatter New Yorkers' self-conception." It's one that compares President George W. Bush to Benjamin Harrison and Rutherford B. Hayes, meanwhile asserting that "just as the presidents of the late 20th century operated in the shadow of F.D.R., those of the first part of the 21st century will stand in the shadow of Clinton."

Speaking of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, "The Clinton Wars" begins with a visit by President Clinton's entourage to the Roosevelt home in Hyde Park, N.Y. While Mr. Clinton looks at his predecessor's desk, Mr. Blumenthal sounds a wistful note. Those were the days when the press was too respectful to mention the president's wheelchair.


Sidney Blumenthal, author of "The Clinton Wars."


THE CLINTON WARS
By Sidney Blumenthal
Illustrated. 822 pp. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $30
# Amazon.com Sales Rank: 135


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: bookreview; clinton; clintonwars; sidblumenthal
And here is a quote from Andrew Sullivan's review of The Clinton Wars.
Which reminds me what The Clinton Wars evoked for me. It has the tone and manner and piety of one of those "Lives of the Saints" books most Catholic school kids were once forced to read at some point or other. It’s not a memoir, or a history. It’s a Gospel. Its facts are assembled, as the facts in the Gospels were assembled, for one purpose only: to affirm the faith, to rally the flock, to spread the further glory of the Church. It’s an allegory of eternal good and evil—a passion narrative with a scriptural past and a resurrection at the end, the first-person narrative of one saint who prevailed.

1 posted on 05/15/2003 1:03:55 PM PDT by Utah Girl
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To: Utah Girl
Who or what is a "Bill Clinton?" ;^)
2 posted on 05/15/2003 1:06:52 PM PDT by RetiredArmy (We'll put a boot in your ass, it's the American Way! Toby Keith)
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To: Utah Girl
Good catch on the Sullivan quote.

"snowballing hysteria" would ba another :-)
3 posted on 05/15/2003 1:08:48 PM PDT by JoeSixPack1 (POW/MIA - Bring 'em home, or send us back! Semper Fi)
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To: Utah Girl
Sounds like it's time for another Freep of the reader book review section at Amazon......
4 posted on 05/15/2003 1:09:45 PM PDT by Bigg Red (Beware the Rodham Fedayeen.)
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To: RetiredArmy
Who or what is a "Bill Clinton?"

It's like a penis, only smaller.

5 posted on 05/15/2003 1:10:37 PM PDT by billorites (freepo ergo sum)
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Here is the link to Andrew Sullivan's review of The Clinton Wars.

St. Bill! In Sid’s Gospel (little Sid finds God in Bill)

6 posted on 05/15/2003 1:11:46 PM PDT by Utah Girl
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To: Utah Girl
This book is like a godsend for us; it will just bring ALL the old lies up again, just when the Dems are almost as low as they can go.

Happy posting, everybody!
7 posted on 05/15/2003 1:12:14 PM PDT by Howlin
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To: Utah Girl
"It takes a village idiot".
8 posted on 05/15/2003 1:19:28 PM PDT by sheik yerbouty
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To: Utah Girl
Here is a link to Sullivan's review. It's worth the read. He is so fond of Bulmenthal so he tries to be kind, but the book is so bad he ends up ripping him to shreds anyway.

Anyway, I got a kick out of this passage:

    As a result, he observes like a reporter. (In describing how his "lubricated" former friend, Christopher Hitchens, betrayed him, Mr. Blumenthal describes a meeting in a restaurant. It is duly noted that Mr. Hitchens ran up a bar bill of $18.84 before Mr. Blumenthal arrived.)

In a DC bar, that covers about 3 drinks. And knowing Hitch, it takes a lot more than that to get him buzzed.

9 posted on 05/15/2003 1:19:49 PM PDT by TomB
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To: Utah Girl
"It is duly noted that Mr. Hitchens ran up a bar bill of $18.84 before Mr. Blumenthal arrived."

How many drinks does it take in New York or DC to run up a bill like this, I wonder.
10 posted on 05/15/2003 1:22:17 PM PDT by Bahbah
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To: Utah Girl
as the facts in the Gospels were assembled, for one purpose only

Many New Testament scholars have argued well that the gospels clearly DO NOT have the marks of apologia (see most recently "Jesus and the Victory of God" by T. Wright). And Luke, at least, claimed in his prologue to be writing with the intent to "...set out the truth of what you have been told..."

Which is what Blumenthal would say about himself, of course, but it is naive and unlearned to classify the gospels as apologia simply because they claim certain things about their chief subject. As if the only documents deemed to be accurate about an ostensible hero were by writers who had concluded he was not a hero.

There may have been once an actual good man.

But, where were we - oh yes, we were talking about Clinton.

11 posted on 05/15/2003 1:22:28 PM PDT by Taliesan
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To: billorites
Thanks. I did not know!!! hahahahhahaha ;^)
12 posted on 05/15/2003 1:23:37 PM PDT by RetiredArmy (We'll put a boot in your ass, it's the American Way! Toby Keith)
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To: Utah Girl
And he was often in the presence of greatness. "I once sat with the president and Tony Blair as, in about 15 minutes, the two men easily thrashed out a prickly trade problem involving bananas and cashmere," he reveals.

Can greatness be found amidst bananas and cashmere? This is an elegantly perfect putdown.

13 posted on 05/15/2003 1:24:45 PM PDT by Ruth A.
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To: Bahbah
"How many drinks does it take in New York or DC to run up a bill like this, I wonder"

Speaking from experience, one drink at the bar at the Rainbow Room could run you $18.
14 posted on 05/15/2003 1:27:15 PM PDT by CaptainK
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To: Utah Girl
those of the first part of the 21st century will stand in the shadow of Clinton.

Look again, Sid.
That dark stuff covering the ground all arond you is NOT a shadow.

15 posted on 05/15/2003 1:27:42 PM PDT by Izzy Dunne (Hello, I'm a TAGLINE virus. Please help me spread by copying me into YOUR tag line.)
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To: Utah Girl
...Clintons' 'Good Soldier' Explains All Those Messes

The explanation for that title can only be the 'purple helmeted warrior' in clintons left hand.

16 posted on 05/15/2003 1:39:36 PM PDT by SGCOS
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To: Utah Girl
Has the Squid gotten any TV or mag interviews promoting the book? Maybe he can get an interview with Oprah, now that Baba has won the exclusive.
17 posted on 05/15/2003 1:42:27 PM PDT by Carolina
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To: Carolina
Check out Sullivan's review..it's a killer.
18 posted on 05/15/2003 1:44:57 PM PDT by MEG33
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To: MEG33
Thanks. I read it earlier. Who's gonna volunteer to do a Freeper review?
19 posted on 05/15/2003 1:48:58 PM PDT by Carolina
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To: Utah Girl
read later
20 posted on 05/15/2003 2:17:11 PM PDT by LiteKeeper
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To: Utah Girl
Remember when Drudge did this?

Different Blumenthal, but it made its point.

21 posted on 05/15/2003 2:30:10 PM PDT by DainBramage
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To: Utah Girl
"just as the presidents of the late 20th century operated in the shadow of F.D.R., those of the first part of the 21st century will stand in the shadow of Clinton."

My God, this guy is totally delusional (besides being as big of a liar as BJ Clinton).

22 posted on 05/15/2003 2:54:25 PM PDT by DeweyCA
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To: Utah Girl
I think this book is a wonderful thing. After all, we have it all in black and white now, so Sid can't exactly parse his way out of the obvious lies and distortions.

We're going to have a grand time deconstructing Sid's little fantasy.

23 posted on 05/15/2003 3:17:26 PM PDT by Reactionary
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To: DeweyCA
"just as the presidents of the late 20th century operated in the shadow of F.D.R., those of the first part of the 21st century will stand in the shadow of Clinton."

Hahahahahahahahahahah!!!!! Stop it. You're killing me! Hohoheeheehee stop it. Hohoho that is rich. That has to be from a Simpsons episode. Has to be.

24 posted on 05/15/2003 4:51:09 PM PDT by mc5cents
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To: Utah Girl
Mom liked me best.

Sidney Blumenthal, like Michael Kinsley, is a prissy little sh*t!

25 posted on 05/15/2003 6:55:43 PM PDT by SuziQ
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To: Utah Girl
The man (Sidney) is a fool.
26 posted on 05/15/2003 6:56:56 PM PDT by Whispering Smith
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To: Carolina
Ugh, I don't know. I'm checking back on Amazon.com in a couple of months to see where the book lands up.
27 posted on 05/15/2003 7:34:20 PM PDT by Utah Girl
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To: Utah Girl
Writing throughout "The Clinton Wars" with the patience of a schoolteacher aiding the benighted, Mr. Blumenthal explains that Mrs. Clinton has proof that she wrote the book herself. But why no mention of a hired collaborator? "Because, she decided, no matter how endless the list, some of the many, many people who had helped her were bound to feel that they had been left off." Yeah, sure. Even the New York Times knows that this is BS.
28 posted on 05/15/2003 8:25:00 PM PDT by NYCVirago
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To: Utah Girl
Sounds like the title ought be The Clinton Whores, with a cast of thousands.
29 posted on 05/19/2003 2:45:30 PM PDT by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote Life Support for others.)
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To: MHGinTN
Don't you LOVE this quote:

"The Clinton Wars" means to solidify Mr. Blumenthal's place in history. He wrote memos and speeches (included here for the reader to enjoy). He gave valued advice. He came up with the slogan "One America," which, he helpfully points out, is "an updating of `E pluribus unum.' " He introduced President Clinton to a promising British politician named Tony Blair.

30 posted on 05/19/2003 2:46:20 PM PDT by Howlin
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To: Howlin
It could be said that had there not been a staff of 'blumenthals' sinkEmperor would have soiled himself away years before 2000. The Sid Blumenthals kept the administration afloat. For that, I'm not certain yet whether we ought thank them for not allowing the nation to sink too deeply into the cesspool of clintonism, or kick them in the teeth for keeping the deviant president out of harms way! I suspect (as Hitch has alluded in the past) that the administration would have run similarly had clinton been locked away in his off-office bathroom for seven years with all the cocaine and nubile bitches his heart desired. Except for hatellary pounding on the door to ruin his concentration, things would have been similar in outcome. Well, perhaps a janitor in Sudan and an aspirin factory there would still be working, and a few camels and empty tents might be yet in evidence, but all in all, the absence of the potus with his cabinet, working weekly to administaer the nation is a plenary point.
31 posted on 05/19/2003 2:59:25 PM PDT by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote Life Support for others.)
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To: MHGinTN
I think clinton was locked away somewhere for his whole term. I think he didn't run the nation, he regarded the presidency as a babe magnet. I think he played around and travelled, and left the governing to others, including Hillary!. He was there for the TV photo ops to jut his chin out and look presidential.
32 posted on 05/19/2003 3:07:13 PM PDT by Utah Girl
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To: billorites
"You squirrels better have some nuts in your cheeks or somebody's going downtown." Quote from same source as yours?
33 posted on 05/19/2003 3:15:21 PM PDT by Richard Kimball
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To: SuziQ
Sidney Blumenthal, like Michael Kinsley, is a prissy little sh*t!

Sidney Blumenthal makes Michael Kinsley look like Mike Ditka.

34 posted on 05/19/2003 3:36:37 PM PDT by Timesink
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To: MHGinTN
I consider them all "a government in waiting," just dying to get back into power.

And we already know they will say or do anything to make that happen.
35 posted on 05/19/2003 4:58:02 PM PDT by Howlin
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To: Utah Girl
It is apparent to me - by the intensity of the message and the ardor of the messsenger - that ole Sid is in love with Clinton.
36 posted on 05/19/2003 5:21:48 PM PDT by doberville (Angels can fly when they take themselves lightly)
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To: Howlin; MHGinTN
I keep saying that America would not survive another Clinton presidency. I think Hillary! is laying her plans to run in 2004. She has to run for Senator in 2006, and her reelection isn't a lock. And she will be in her sixties in 2008.
37 posted on 05/19/2003 5:25:08 PM PDT by Utah Girl
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To: Utah Girl
The attempt to lay roses at the alter of smoldering sh*t that IS the clinton legacy continues to amaze me. Of all people who really need to stay silent lest he call attention once again to his part in the whole clinton debacle, sidney blumenthall rates at the top of the heap of human debris and hubris. But, please, if they must GO ON and ON, let them. Those who already know the truth won't be swayed, and those whose eyes have been opened, if only slightly over the past two years, will be unable to swallow the clinton koolaid any longer. It's like the cheap wine that his presidency was. Bitter and unfit for consumption.
38 posted on 05/19/2003 5:42:11 PM PDT by small voice in the wilderness
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To: Timesink
Sidney Blumenthal makes Michael Kinsley look like Mike Ditka.

ROTFL!! It's those stupid little 'pince nez' glasses he wears. I guess he thinks they make him look like an intellectual. Doesn't work for me; they just make him look more like a twit!

39 posted on 05/19/2003 6:50:58 PM PDT by SuziQ
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To: Utah Girl
Oh, cripes, why did you have to post those pictures without a barf alert? What a smarmy-looking bum. And who in their right mind would spend good money to read the memoir of the Clintons' hatchet-man, a liar who goes out and lies in the defense of other liars? Blumenthal is just one of the veritable rogue's gallery of liars and cheats and snitches and apparatchiks who haunted the hallowed halls of the people's house in those dark years. One can only imagine the smell still lingers, but hopefully will be flushed out, never to return.
40 posted on 05/19/2003 7:10:10 PM PDT by chimera
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