Friday, June 8, 2012

Clinton's Life

Hi everyone! It's been over a week since my last post. I've had a very busy week at work and haven't really had the creative headspace to think about blogging. I did, however, manage to finish two books this week, one on audio and one paperback. Tonight I'll give you my impressions of the audiobook, My Life by former POTUS Bill Clinton.

I liked listening to this book on audio because I've always enjoyed Bill Clinton's voice, with its soothing Southern overtones and passionate inflections. I did zone out a little while listening, though. There were some dry sections, particularly during the Arkansas governor years, and the rants about how the Far Right was always out to get him started to wear thin after awhile. But I was very interested to learn about his childhood, and also in the sequence of events during his campaign and presidency. I was fairly young when Clinton was president- only 11 when he was elected- and had no political interests whatsoever until I was out of college, so I wasn't aware of these events while they were in progress (with the obvious exception of the Monica Lewinsky/Kenneth Starr/impeachment circus). Other people my age might find these facts as intriguing as I did; those of you who lived through it with higher political consciousness may be more interested in hearing familiar events told through the lens of a very biased, very major player.

A few things I learned about Bill Clinton (that may be more common knowledge to others):

1. His grandfather was a role model of practicing racial equality during a time when segregation was the law of the South.
2. His first date with Hillary included sneaking into a closed art exhibit and then making amends by cleaning up the adjoining garden.
3. He did a bit of a run-around between avoiding the draft by allowing them to excuse him for his education, then changing his mind and requesting to serve, and finally not being needed because his birthdate number was too high. He always felt great guilt for not fighting in Vietnam, despite the fact that he strongly disagreed with the war.
4. He received a call from the Bush White House before deciding to run for president, asking him if he planned to run and telling him point blank that he was the only candidate they felt unsure of defeating, and that their campaign strategy would be to attack him in unprecedentedly personal ways.
5. He slept on the couch for months after telling Hillary that he had had an affair with Monica Lewinsky. (All I could think was, good for Hillary. It's not every woman who'd make the President of the United States sleep on the couch, no matter what he'd done.)
6. In his meeting with George W. Bush before leaving the White House, he listed Osama bin Laden as the number one threat to U.S. security. Bush disagreed, listing Iraq and several other threats above Al Qaeda. This was 9 months before 9/11.

If any of these tidbits sparked your interest, you may want to try the book for yourself. I do recommend the audio version. Clinton's periodical observations about life and insights into his own flawed character are both charismatic and folksy, and it was good to hear it in his simultaneously self-deprecating and prideful twang.

Next up: a post about author addiction, and a review of The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (one of my all-time favorites). I also finally went to Barnes & Noble tonight and came back with two books I'm eager to read, The Jane Austen Marriage Manual by Kim Izzo (thanks Cristen!) and The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg.

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