Ever since the 1992 election, books about President Bill Clinton have become a virtual cottage industry in conservative circles. With titles like High Crimes and Misdemeanors, Slick Willie, and Legacy, conservative writers have made the case for Clinton’s impeachment, thoroughly researched his background and critiqued his presidency. Indeed, many would conclude that there would be scarcely enough room on the shelf for another title about Clinton.
However, with the paperback version of Clinton’s memoirs set to hit bookstores in early June, World Ahead Publishing has unveiled Their Lives: The Women Targeted by the Clinton Machine by Candice E. Jackson. Billed as the stories that Clinton left out of My Life, Jackson uncovers the trail of bribes, threats and intimidation that Clinton’s inner circle leveled at the women who got in their way.
While Clinton’s scandals and marital indiscretions have certainly been researched by other authors, Jackson offers the reader considerably more than another litany of allegations. Most coverage of scandals involving Clinton has mainly dealt with their political ramifications. However, Jackson looks beyond the politics to detail the pattern of threats and intimidation that all of these women faced.
Jackson secures interviews with both Kathleen Wiley and Juanita Broaddrick and details how the lives of many of these women continue to be adversely affected by their involvement with Clinton, even years after their story faded from the national spotlight. Furthermore, the fact that Jackson herself is a victim of sexual assault gives her some additional insights into the pain and trauma that many of these women suffered.
Indeed, Their Lives features chapters devoted to the often-painful stories of Clinton’s most well known accusers, including Elizabeth Ward Gracen, Sally Purdue, Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky, Willey and Broaddrick. The fact that the reader gets to hear these seven stories in succession is very powerful and lends a great deal of insight into Clinton’s boorish behavior.
Taken individually, some of these stories could appear to be very serious, but isolated, lapses in judgment. However, by presenting these stories in succession, Jackson clearly demonstrates what a reckless, promiscuous, ruthless, self-interested figure Clinton really was. Indeed, if the general public had heard all the details of all of these scandals at the same time, it seems highly unlikely that Clinton would have been elected in 1992, much less re-elected in 1996.
Jackson, however, does considerably more than just relate stories. At the end of every chapter, she uses the experience of each woman to describe how a particular tenet of modern liberalism can either breed misogyny or at least remain tolerant of misogynous deeds in certain circumstances. Conservatives spilled considerable amounts of ink during the late 1990s, sharply chastising feminist groups for their near dogmatic support of Clinton. Jackson shows that support for Clinton was consistent with the liberal worldview of many of these groups.
For instance, Jackson argues that in modern liberalism, political goals justify any political means to achieve them. As such, liberal feminists supported Clinton since he would help them achieve their political goals, including easy access to abortion.
Similarly, Jackson argues that modern liberalism believes that the validity of the message is determined by the motives of the messenger. Consequently, claiming that Clinton’s accusers are motivated by money or ideology is enough to discredit them, regardless of the accuracy of their story.
The stories that Jackson relates and her political commentary mesh nicely in the final chapter in the book, which deals with Hillary Clinton. This chapter is easily the most relevant to the current political scene due to Hillary Clinton’s status as a likely presidential candidate in 2008. Throughout the book, Jackson describes herself as a libertarian feminist and admits that she is intrigued by the idea of electing a woman President.
Jackson concludes the book by insisting that Americans need to do better than Hillary Clinton. It is easy to see why. Hillary Clinton was a willing partner in her husband’s attacks. She always defended her husband politically and never gave any of her husband’s accusers a shred of sympathy or credibility. Jackson concludes that Hillary Clinton’s preference for her own political career over the well-being of actual women makes her a poor choice for feminists, the Democratic Party or the American people. These are wise words to consider with the 2008 primaries rapidly approaching.
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