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Always on the Campaign
on October 31, 2000
I have held on to this book since 1996. I was intent on reading it as soon as I received it, but I held off for one reason or another. I am glad I did. By waiting until the end of the Clinton presidency I have been able to keep in mind many of the personal details of Bill Clinton and am able to to keep into context all of the things that have happened since it was published in 1996.
Within everything else that has been supposed and predicted about Bill Clinton and his legacy, there will be no doubt that he is definitely one of the most enigmatic politicians in the history of the U.S. It will be history that will judge how relevant the Clinton legacy will be. Perhaps 100 years from now this decade will only be remembered for the economy and the boom in technology. Who knows? Bill Clinton may not even be remembered as being the president of this decade--much like now when people cannot tell you who presided in the White House during the Gilded Age.
Those fascinated with President Bill Clinton will be because of his incredible adeptible personality. Clinton is the hybrid of all politicians to come before him. He is insecure & he is confident; he is short-tempered & he is relaxed in public; he is brilliant & yet knows his intellectual limits. His approval rating is high, but people do not like the man. He is all things to all people--loved and reviled. And one of his criticisms has always been his willingness to compromise ideologies--conservative and liberal--to get things done. This tends to infuriate both sides. If for anything else, he is NOT boring. Whoever we get as president this next election, neither Bush nor Gore will be nearly as interesting in the news as Clinton has been.
David Maraniss' book seeks to find some order within the complicated person that is Bill Clinton. I appreciated his balance and his use of some appropriate anecdotes that brought some depth to the man that we always think we know from the media. Bill Clinton essentially is a man who is constantly running for office. He always was and perhaps always will be campaigning. It's basically his hobby and THAT will be his legacy. He is like a great strategist always looking for the key to winning not only most of the battles, but realizes that one may need to lose a battle to win a war.
Maraniss is fair when approaches Clinton's flaws, for which there are several his critics have managed to exploit. I think the author does a great job of putting these "scandals" into perspective. Though I did find it amusing one segment referring to Paula Jones. It would be a couple of years after this book's publication that that Paula Jones investigation would explode into the eventual impeachment of Bill Clinton. I found that Maraniss does tend to underplay many of these scandalous incidents that are perhaps more significant than he reports them, but he does manage to paint them into Clinton's character in such a way that we understand that these flaws are all just symptoms to a larger problem. There are amusing stories describing Clinton's affairs and Hillary's knowledge about them and how these are resolved--such as the incident of a younger female volunteer being ushered quickly out the back door as Hillary Rodham enters the front door of Bill's campaign office.
Clinton has never stopped running. His life ever since junior-high school has been that of an ambitious campaigner. More or less he just jumped from one office to one higher. Eventually it was going to end at the Oval Office which he was able to hold for 8 years. This book will not give anyone any insight to how the Clinton presidency is or will be. The book ends at Clinton's announcement for the presidency in 1991. What this book does do is give the reader some deserved depth into Bill Clinton and how his personality and talents have led him to the highest office. This is a well doen description that is not apparent from the daily press that we have not seen in the last 8 years. And if you are like me, reading this towards the end of the Clinton administration, you will no doubt be amused at how his character has influenced the events over the last 4 years since this book was originally published.