Tomorrow’s the big day: When My Life, Bill Clinton’s spine-straining (at 957 pages) memoir of his presidency hits the stands officially. The prediction is that the entire first printing of 1.5 million copies will sell out (or have already sold out), which is good, because the publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, paid Our 42nd President some $10 million for his recollections about Miss Monica and other weighty matters. We wouldn’t want to see Knopf go out of business.
So far–hee hee–the reviews of “My Life” have been less than enthusiastic. Way less. The unkindest cut of all so far comes from the New York Times’s Michiko Kakutani (yes, Michiko! The New York Times!), who called Clinton’s enormous, hastily written tome “sloppy, self-indulgent and often eye-crossingly dull — the sound of one man prattling away, not for the reader, but for himself and some distant recording angel of history.
“In many ways, the book is a mirror of Mr. Clinton’s presidency: lack of discipline leading to squandered opportunities; high expectations, undermined by self-indulgence and scattered concentration.”
Kakutani–and nearly every other critic who’s read the book (except for Dan Rather, who just loved it)–take note of Clinton’s effort to turn special prosecutor Kenneth Starrr’s investigation of l’affaire Lewinsky into an an Arrmageddon-like conflict between the forces of good (led by our man Bill) and the forces of evil (led by Starr, the House team, and others). When he beat off Starr and his allies, Clinton wasn’t slithering out of a perjury rap on the issue of whether Miss Monica’s ministrations actually constituted “sex”; he was waging a rearguard action against that vast right-wing conspiracy that Hillary can’t get off her mind. As Kakutani writes:
“…Mr. Clinton tries to characterize his impeachment fight as ‘my last great showdown with the forces I had opposed all of my life’ — with those who had defended segregation in the South, opposed the women’s and gay rights movements, and who believed government should be run for the benefit of special interests. He adds that he was glad that he had had ‘the good fortune to stand against this latest incarnation of the forces of reaction and division.'”
Sure, Bill, if you want to look at it that way. The rest of us think it had something to do with thong underpants. As Time magazine’s Joe Klein (author of Primary Colors, the Clinton a clef novel) quipped to ABC News:
“He now wants the Starr investigation to be part of his legacy.
“He thinks it is one of his major achievements that he beat back the attempt to impeach him.”
ABC also reports that tomorrow’s release of “My Life” has actually caused trepidation among some Democrats who fear that Clinton’s book-promotion efforts will overshadow John F. Kerry’s presidential campaign. Clinton sure is a lot more colorful than ol’ Mr. Wooden-Head.