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Seriously, Read a Book!

Thoughts on books, often interpreted through the high-brow prism of cartoon (read: Archer) references. Wait! I had something for this...

Currently reading

Land of LISP: Learn to Program in LISP, One Game at a Time!
Conrad Barski
The Sketchnote Handbook: The Illustrated Guide to Visual Notetaking
Mike Rohde
The Antidote
Oliver Burkeman
The Kind Worth Killing
Peter Swanson
James Buchanan
Jean H. Baker, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.

The Natural: The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton

The Natural: The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton - Joe Klein

When this book came out in 2003, Joe Klein (aka "anonymous" when it came to his better-known oeuvrePrimary Colors) had the benefit of hindsight when it came to the Clinton presidency. However, if Klein's 2003 hindsight was 20/20, then sitting here in 2014 I felt like I had the visual acuity of a hawk that's been bred with an eagle...to produce some kind of eagle-eyed superhawk (thanks Agent Hawley!).


Part of what I found so impressive about Peter Baker's Days of Fire when it came to the Bush 43 presidency, was a sense that it would hold up as an account of events for posterity's sake. Maybe that wasn't Klein's goal here, in which case, my bad- but I'll gripe nonetheless.


Bill Clinton by MiniDove


Due to my own Clinton-charmed biases, I was pleased to find myself annoyed (a seemingly oxymoronic state) by Klein's glib characterizations of politicians on the other side of the aisle (and the Atlantic, as it were). He introduces Bush 43 as "a former cheerleader" and Tony Blair as "a former rock group promoter" in his sweeping statements about the political landscape at the end of the Clinton years. Meanwhile he depicts Clinton in the backroom granting pardons with "libidinous" fervor- likening it to the Lewinsky scandal.


This book simply felt irrelevant in this day and age. Klein makes it seem as if the "rapid response" to media scandals and increased attention to public response were products of, well, Clinton. Given today's 24-hour news cycle and regular pol use of social media, his take just seems naive. Likewise Klein's assessment of the public as being "charisma fatigued" and in search of more erudite leadership seemed like a distinctly pre-2004 election stance. 


All in all, I felt like this was just a big swing and a miss.