A Place Called Hype

According to the front page of The New York Times–so it must be true!–the release of Bill Clinton’s latest round of lies, My Life, has “many of his old antagonists … gearing up again.” Among many others, MSNBC’s Bill Press said the book was “bringing all the Clinton haters out from under their rocks. I mean, they’re salivating because they get another chance to get into all of these issues.”

We’re not salivating with anticipation–that’s drool as we fall into a coma.

Since Clinton was impeached, liberals have been trapped in a time warp. They just can’t seem to “move on.” Books retelling Clinton’s side of impeachment–only since the decadent buffoon left office–include: Joe Conason and Gene Lyons’ The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton (endorsed by America’s most famous liar!), David Brock’s Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative, Sidney Blumenthal’s The Clinton Wars, Joe Eszterhas’s American Rhapsody, Joe Klein’s The Natural: The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Living History, and now, the master himself weighs in with My Life.

As far as I know, conservatives have produced one book touching on Bill Clinton’s impeachment in this time: In 2003, National Review‘s Rich Lowry decided it was finally safe to attack Clinton and thereupon produced the only Regnery book (Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years) with Bill Clinton’s mug on the cover that did not make The New York Times‘ best-sellers list. That’s how obsessed the Clinton-haters are.

Now there’s even a documentary version of liberals’ Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy fantasy, The Hunting of the President. O.J. had more dignity.

If we’re so obsessed with it, why do they keep bringing it up? OK, uncle. You win, Mr. President. If I buy a copy of your book, will you just shut up once and for all, go away, and never come back? It will cost me $35, but, judging strictly by weight, that isn’t a bad price for so much cow manure. At 957 pages, this is the first book ever published that contains a 20-minute intermission. Readers are advised to put it down and read a passage from Clinton’s 1988 convention speech nominating Dukakis just to stay awake. This thing is so long, he almost called it War and Peace. Or, I suppose, more properly, War and a Piece.

Considering how obsessed liberals are with turning their version of Clinton’s impeachment into the historical record, it’s interesting how these books spend very little time talking about Clinton’s impeachment. Instead of discussing the facts of his impeachment, Clinton simply makes analogies to grand historical events–events notable for bearing not the remotest relationship to his own sordid story.

Clinton claims, for example, that conservatives decided to target him in lieu of the Soviet Union after the Cold War ended and conservatives needed a new villain. In other words, Clinton is equating himself, in scale and importance, to the Soviet Union, the global Communist conspiracy and the Marxist-Leninist Revolution. Nope, no ego problem there. (My Life was Clinton’s second choice title, after the publisher balked at naming the book I Am God, and You Are All My Subjects.)

Alternatively, Clinton claims conservatives hated him because he represented “the ’60s.” As is now well-known, four lawyers, toiling away after hours and on weekends, worked quietly behind the scenes to propel the Paula Jones case to the Supreme Court and bring Monica Lewinsky to the attention of the independent counsel. All four of us were five to eight years old when Bill Clinton graduated from Georgetown in 1968. (Actually, it was the ’70s that I really hated, but that’s another column for another day.)

So I’m pretty sure it wasn’t our anger about “the ’60s” that inspired feelings of contempt for Bill Clinton. It must have been something else–some ineffable quality. Let’s see, what was it again? Ah yes! I remember now! It was that Clinton is a pathological liar and sociopath.

If Clinton wasn’t the Soviet Empire or “the ’60s,” then he was Rosa Parks! Clinton actually compares his battle against impeachment to civil rights struggles in the South. Haven’t blacks been insulted enough by the constant comparison between gay marriage and black civil rights without this horny hick comparing his impeachment to Selma?

And that’s when Clinton is even talking about his presidency. From what I’ve heard, roughly half of Clinton’s memoir–hundreds and hundreds of pages–is about every picayune detail of his life before becoming President. Through sheer force of will I shall resist the urge to refer to this book as a “blow by blow” account of Clinton’s entire miserable existence.

Most presidential memoirs get right to the President part, on the assumption that people would not be interested in, for example, Harry Truman’s deal-making as Jackson County executive or Jimmy Carter’s initiatives as a state senator in Georgia–let alone who they took to their junior high school proms. When Ulysses S. Grant wrote his memoirs, he skipped his presidency altogether and just wrote about what would be most interesting to people–his service as a Civil War commander.

But Clinton thinks people are dying to read 900 pages about his very ordinary life. He views being President as just one more episode in a life that is fascinating in all its stages because he is just so fascinating as a person–at least to himself. In a perverse way, it’s utterly appropriate. What actually happened during the Clinton presidency? No one can remember anything about it except the bimbos, the lies and the felonies. Fittingly, in the final analysis, Clinton will not be remembered for what he did as President, but for who he did.