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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Psychologist in the White House
Dick Morris, the political consultant widely acknowledged for arranging Clinton's second term win, writes an insightful analysis of President Clinton's career, personality, and political tactics in Behind the Oval Office. Called "The most influential private citizen in America" by Time Magazine, Morris is a consummate influence professional who understands...
Published on May 3, 2000 by Bruce

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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The World According To Dick: There's Only Me.
Dick Morris' tale of his work for President Clinton is interesting, in a weird sort of way. But, whatever his insights, every word must be taken with a grain of salt. Are we really to believe that Dick Morris contributed to the Bosnian peace accord? Are we really to believe that Dick Morris advised the President to hire rival James Carville in 1992? These are a couple...
Published on April 23, 1997


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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Psychologist in the White House, May 3, 2000
By 
Bruce (Cleburne, TX) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Behind the Oval Office: Getting Reelected Against All Odds (Paperback)
Dick Morris, the political consultant widely acknowledged for arranging Clinton's second term win, writes an insightful analysis of President Clinton's career, personality, and political tactics in Behind the Oval Office. Called "The most influential private citizen in America" by Time Magazine, Morris is a consummate influence professional who understands how national attitudes can be engineered through artful communications and carefully chosen positions on issues. Behind the Oval Office can be read as Morris' tactical playbook, where he exposes the psychological machinery that supports political power. Here, Morris details how he conducted regular polling to understand the public's desires, from that polling located unassailable positions for the president to assume, and from those positions crafted messages that persuaded Americans to vote for Clinton. Morris also reveals how he "inoculated" the president from political attack, how he sometimes found it necessary to distract the American public away from a close examination of the president's actions, and how he ran "stealth" advertising campaigns that slipped under the radar of the media elite, to successfully change the voting behaviors of millions of Americans with an image of a likeable and fair president who deserved a second term. Morris also provides an insightful analysis of the missteps and blunders that marked the Dole defeat, and offers a strategy with which Dole could have beaten Clinton. In the revised edition of the book, Morris has released copies of White House agendas that provide a virtual diary of how Morris and Clinton outmaneuvered their political rivals.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good stuff for political junkies, May 10, 2003
This review is from: Behind the Oval Office: Getting Reelected Against All Odds (Paperback)
Dick Morris is full of himself. However, this book is worth reading...particularly if you are a political junkie like myself. "Behind the Oval Office: Winning The Presidency in the Nineties," offers a front row seat to White House political strategy. To this end, the one conclusion that all will agree upon with this book is that President Bill Clinton is a slave to the polls.
In many ways this book reveals how shallow politics can get. Morris is an extremely influential political actor in the Clinton White House and is able to expertly navigate the President through the dangerous aftermath of the 1994 Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole midterm Republican advances. Moreover, there is no doubt that Morris laid the foundation for Bill Clinton's second term victory.
Morris does not enjoy the victory...he goes out in disgrace. Nevertheless, this book shows how the author's twenty-year relationship with William Jefferson Clinton and his wife Hillary allowed this couple from Arkansas to survive many political storms. Morris is a master of polling and offers many insights on how polling tracks voter thinking on many sensitive issues. This book is easy to read and a straightforward account of how the "big boys" win in the political arena.
Bert Ruiz
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent piece by Morris, February 24, 2000
This review is from: Behind the Oval Office: Getting Reelected Against All Odds (Paperback)
As a political staffer myself, I am always looking for "behind-the-scenes" type of books. "Behind the Oval Office" provides its readers with a thorough understanding of the Clinton White House and the manner in which it has conducted business over the past few years. Dick Morris, in depth, discusses many of the approaches that Clinton took in his attempt to gain successful reelection in 1996. Particularly interesting is Morris' triangulation approach to governing. I would highly recommend this book to others who are interested in presidential politics.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How To Share an Ego, February 17, 2003
By 
This review is from: Behind the Oval Office: Getting Reelected Against All Odds (Paperback)
I was not expecting the author's detailed views on President Clinton's personality. I was assuming I was going to get a 350 page "I am the Greatest" ego stroking puff piece. I was actually prepared to dislike this book given the author's conservative leanings and now permanent pundit position on FOX, but as it is the inside book covering how Clinton turned around his numbers in 94-95, I felt it was worth getting through. It turns out I was wrong. The book was very well written and interesting. The author shared a number of insights into how the Clinton White House worked and what was going on in 94 - 95.
The author also did not have the overblown ego that I was expecting to encounter; as a matter of fact he spent a good deal of time apologizing for his famous fall from grace. He was also rather kind to some of the people he worked with (or battled with) in the White House. As a matter of fact some of the other insider books on the Clinton years have not been this kind to Dick Morris. Maybe that is the danger of being one of the first out of the gate with your memoir, you can not get back at others. Overall I found the book very good. It was detailed and fun to read. The comments are well thought out and provide an interesting view into how politics works now days. Ok, his ego does pop up from time to time, but it is not so bad that it takes away from the overall book. Hey at this level they all have healthily egos. I would recommend that it be one of the books to read on the Clinton years.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Captivating, February 14, 2004
By 
George Gerritsen (Foster City, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Behind the Oval Office: Getting Reelected Against All Odds (Paperback)
Bill Clinton hired Dick Morris as a consultant for his 1996 reelection campaign. His role as an advisor to the president was kept a secret for several months, and eventually ended in a tabloid-driven scandal that cost Dick his job. Behind the Oval Office provides an account of this time from Dick's perspective.
The account is told in a surprisingly linear and story-like fashion. It makes for a captivating literary experience (which is a real accomplishment considering that this is a political book). It also serves as an outlet for Dick to apologize for, and make peace with, the scandal that cost him his job (and almost his marriage).
I found the book to be quite fair in describing the principals of the Clinton administration and Republican leadership in Congress (Dick Morris had also consulted for many Republicans over the years and briefly served as an information conduit between Bill Clinton and Trent Lott).
The bottom line is this: If you're looking for some sort of a hatchet-job on the Clinton administration, look elsewhere. If you're looking for starting revelations and juicy details, try the tabloids. However, if you want to know more about one of the most unique relationships a president has ever shared with an advisor, this is the book for you.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The political genius, June 17, 2003
By 
Chris Salzer (Gainesville, GA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Behind the Oval Office: Getting Reelected Against All Odds (Paperback)
The undisputed master of polling, political stratagem, geopolitical sagacity, and, er... prostitutes writes an amazingly candid look into the Clinton White House worth reading years later. Morris chronicles his triangulation strategy that unfortunately led to Clinton's improbable 2nd term. Morris operated largely in secret as "Charlie" over the phone and later in and out of the East Wing while Clinton's staff worked separately in the West Wing.
Morris tells how Clinton instructs Morris to continue with the subterfuge to avoid the largely ineffective and overly quarrelsome Leon Panetta and Harold Ickes. Without Morris and his insight, Clinton no doubt would not have signed the Republican-sponsored Welfare Reform Act and would have lost in 1996. Morris, who is a foot shorter than Clinton, was tackled by Clinton while in Arkansas, only later to be consoled by Hillary as she told him that Bill only does that to people he loves. With friends like that...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the man behind the victory, November 10, 2003
This review is from: Behind the Oval Office: Getting Reelected Against All Odds (Paperback)
Part campaign chronicle, part autobiography, part political strategy primer, Behind the Oval Office is Morris's look at the period from about November 1994 through August 1996 when he worked as a consultant for Bill Clinton. Morris includes some background information, such as his earlier history with the Clintons and his relationship with Trent Lott, but the primary focus is how Clinton won the presidency after the 1994 midterm elections, to many observers, turned him into an apparent lame duck.

Morris takes great pains to point out that he is (or at least was) an equal opportunity consultant, advising both Republicans and Democrats. Indeed, when he got his first call from Clinton in 1994, he was working on a handful of Republican campaigns, including Tom Ridge's race for governor in Pennsylvania. Previously, he had worked for Trent Lott, whom Morris deeply respects, and, surprisingly enough, for Jesse Helms, a job which, not too surprisingly, ended with Morris's being fired. There's something a shade Machiavellian about this, about caring for victory above all else. But Morris also goes to great lengths to explain his "craft." It is not simply spin or slander or attack or government-by-polls; rather, it is about issues and substance. Morris insists that he merely examines a candidates repertoire of positions and, based on polls, picks the ones to emphasize.

It is an interesting book by an obviously brilliant man. Clinton's reversal of fortunes between 1994 and 1996 is nothing short of stunning, and much of it was Dick Morris's doing. That is, until he encountered his own scandal during the 1996 convention. (Of course, Dick Morris's strategies would continue to reap benefits after he left.) If there is a negative of this book, it is Morris's constant apologies for his trysts with the prostitute. It's a refreshing stand--to admit his wrongdoing, apologize for it, and recognize that he hurt others more than he hurt himself. But it was such a constant refrain in the book as to detract from its overall impact. Still, the book is insightful not only into the 1996 campaign but also into campaign strategy in general. It is a fascinating read.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The World According To Dick: There's Only Me., April 23, 1997
By A Customer
Dick Morris' tale of his work for President Clinton is interesting, in a weird sort of way. But, whatever his insights, every word must be taken with a grain of salt. Are we really to believe that Dick Morris contributed to the Bosnian peace accord? Are we really to believe that Dick Morris advised the President to hire rival James Carville in 1992? These are a couple of the many statements that stretch the realm of reality a little too far. Modesty is not a word that Dick Morris knows. In my opinion, Dick Morris is like one of those flies that bothers you at night. You may swat him away, but he keeps coming back. His book is like that too. You may want to put it down, but you keep coming back. Why? Because he does offer an interesting perspective. But remember, it is hard to tell if you can trust anything that he writes because according to him, the universe revolves around Dick
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too bad he wasn't a Republican., June 26, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Behind the Oval Office: Getting Reelected Against All Odds (Paperback)
I'm a die-hard conservative Republican, yet I could not stay away from this book. His detailing of the strategy that got Clinton re-elected, as well as pointing out what the Republicans could have done and should have done was extremely interesting. Frustrating, too. After reading this book, it is obvious why you hear Forbes already putting out radio commericals for next year's election. Start early. Too bad Morris is not a die-hard Republican. We could use people with his strenghts and assets.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Snowing the Electorate Against All Odds, August 14, 2003
By 
Ben Hekster (Fremont, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Behind the Oval Office: Getting Reelected Against All Odds (Paperback)
Clinton's use of television advertising in his 1996 reelection bid was unprecedented in American history. Political consultant Dick Morris was highly influential in managing this campaign, and retracing his collaboration with the Clintons back to the Arkansas gubernatorial campaigns, he peeks inside Clinton and his White House.

Morris was also the one who gave the American political world 'triangulation'. If (as he insists too many times) triangulation is not really shaping of policy by polling but merely the shaping of presentation by polling, it would still be terribly disingenuous toward the voter. But I think even he realizes that cherry-picking other people's policies in order to win elections is not leadership.

In fact, a lack of leadership is indicative of the Clinton White House itself. According to Morris, Clinton suffers from a chronic inability to fire under- or misperforming members of his staff (inadvertently giving another clue as to who really was responsible for firing the travel office staff). He creates chaos and infighting, then drifts around waiting for someone to move in his direction whom he then supports. Morris describes a permanent near state of war between White House chief of staff Leon Panetta and deputies Harold Ickes and Erskine Bowles. Such is the manner that Clinton exerts control.

But then he isn't much of a team player-- he even keeps Morris out of sight from his staff because he wanted him to himself. Later, paranoia erupts when Clinton accuses Morris of hogging Al Gore, and fearing abandonment by his boss, Gore accuses Clinton of the same.

Clinton spent an astounding $85 million in his reelection campaign. In the previous presidential election, both candidates spent less than half that amount. Obviously this war chest drained an enormous amount of time and energy from Clinton's other job as president. Quoting Clinton: "I can't think. I can't act. I can't do anything but go to fund-raisers and shake hands. You want me to issue executive orders; I can't focus on a thing but the next fund-raiser. Hillary can't, Al can't-- we're all getting sick and crazy because of it."

Interestingly, Clinton doesn't even watch television news-- or read newspapers, with the exception of the New York Times and Washington Post op-ed pages.

Morris describes the reason for not supporting a cut in the capital gains tax. Their own experts had agreed with President Ronald Reagan's rationale that such a cut not only would not cost anything but would even raise revenue, but they still opposed it because it would make them look "too Republican." So they screwed American workers for cosmetics' sake. He describes Clinton's strategy to pass a welfare reform bill to help his election, but then force changes in it after being locked into the White House. Morris has many good words for Trent Lott, but being a good Senator couldn't save him from being lambasted over an off-hand remark at Strom Thurmond's centenary.

Not much is mentioned about foreign affairs, but what is doesn't speak well for Clinton's grasp of it. On the victory of Prime Minister Netanyahu in the 1996 Israeli elections, Clinton flatly concludes that the "Israelis are not ready for peace," forgetting that following countless terror attacks on its citizens after the disastrous Clinton-sponsored Israeli/Palestinian peace agreements, Israelis voted Netanyahu in office precisely because he was the only one who could credibly bring peace.

Sooner or later everyone strays into Hillary's dark side, and Morris commits the sin of recounting how she wanted a swimming pool in their taxpayer-funded Arkansas governor's mansion. It is fairly amusing to read the fawning and sycophantic groveling he had to endure to be restored in her favor.

Behind the White House is a fairly interesting read, though it suffers from sloppy editing. Are "honesty, honor, reliability" really adjectives in the Democratic lexicon? It has its share of political correctness: why does 'Arab terrorists' need quotes? Truman 'lost' China, but Clinton didn't want to lose Russia.

Dick Morris seems a generally honorable professional who is good at what he does, though I'm left to wonder whether this is good for the electorate or the country. In order to raise the astronomical amounts of cash needed for the marketing of what Morris calls the "first fully advertised presidency in US history," Clinton by his own admission was incapacitated from his duties. As we now know, the methods used to raise the cash were illegal, sometimes damaging to our national security, and always reprehensible.
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Behind the Oval Office: Getting Reelected Against All Odds
Behind the Oval Office: Getting Reelected Against All Odds by Dick Morris (Paperback - November 16, 1998)
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