May 13, 2004

The final sentence of his memoirs completed, Bill Clinton is back, ripping into President George Bush's handling of the crisis in Iraq, and signalling that he intends to play a role in the race for the White House.

NOTE TO SEN. JOHN F. KERRY (D-MEKONG DELTA): The
propapunditgandists of the "US mainstream news media"
will spin Bill Clinton's 900 page book (yes, he really
did write it himself) as somehow damaging or a
distraction to your campaign, but you should
unreservedly, unequivocally embrace Clinton and the good
that he stands for: fiscal responsibility,
environmentalism, multilateral security relationships,
the aggressive pursuit of terrorists, international
law, full engagement in the Middle East as a fair and
honest broker, etc. Clinton's book and more
importantly Clinton's book tour will be one of your
most powerful weapons leading up to the convention. Do
not hesitate to use it. Do not make the mistake Al
Gore made in the 2000 campaign.]

Rupert Cornwell, Independent: The final sentence of
his memoirs completed, Bill Clinton is back, ripping
into President George Bush's handling of the crisis in
Iraq, and signalling that he intends to play a role in
the race for the White House. Liberated from
literature, the old master is limbering up anew for
political action. On Tuesday evening, he ripped into
his successor for neglecting the real menace of Osama
bin Laden to go after Saddam Hussein, and for
gratuitously turning world opinion against America.
"We had unanimous support for going into Afghanistan,
they [the United Nations] participated in the hunt for
Bin Laden and supported giving an ultimatum to Saddam
Hussein to open his country to weapons inspections,"
Mr Clinton told a business gathering in New York on
Tuesday night. "We were in good shape. What happened?"
What happened was the Bush team's obsession with
toppling Saddam, he claimed, regardless of the facts
about Iraq's WMD and Baghdad's non-involvement in the
11 September attacks.

Restore the Timeline, Show Up for Democracy in 2004:
Defeat Bush (again!)

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/story.jsp?story=520732

He's back, and this time Clinton is getting personal about Bush
By Rupert Cornwell in Washington
13 May 2004


The final sentence of his memoirs completed, Bill Clinton is back, ripping into President George Bush's handling of the crisis in Iraq, and signalling that he intends to play a role in the race for the White House.

Liberated from literature, the old master is limbering
up anew for political action. On Tuesday evening, he
ripped into his successor for neglecting the real
menace of Osama bin Laden to go after Saddam Hussein,
and for gratuitously turning world opinion against
America.

"We had unanimous support for going into Afghanistan,
they [the United Nations] participated in the hunt for
Bin Laden and supported giving an ultimatum to Saddam
Hussein to open his country to weapons inspections,"
Mr Clinton told a business gathering in New York on
Tuesday night. "We were in good shape. What happened?"

What happened was the Bush team's obsession with
toppling Saddam, he claimed, regardless of the facts
about Iraq's WMD and Baghdad's non-involvement in the
11 September attacks.

It was an unprecedented volley. Former presidents
largely follow a code that sees them keep quiet about
the performance of their successors. But Mr Clinton
appears ready to re-enter the fray and his book will
give him the platform to do so.

"I've been in writer's jail," he told his audience.
"For three months I've been reliving my life - and it
was hard enough the first time." But now, the 900-page
volume My Life is ready. In barely three weeks, the
hoopla will start, at a convention in Chicago. Then
comes a worldwide tour to accompany publication in
late June.

The early signs are that the tome will even eclipse
his wife's Living History, which broke records for
political memoirs when it hit the bookstores exactly a
year ago. The former president is receiving a larger
advance than Hillary, a rumoured $12m (7m) compared
with $8m. The initial print run is also larger: 1.5
million against 1 million for Hillary. And, dare one
hope, it will be better-written than her pedestrian
exercise in political boilerplate.

Unlike earlier political books of 2004, by the
journalist Bob Woodward, the former intelligence chief
Richard Clarke and others, Mr Clinton's memoirs will
not dish dirt on the Bush administration. Instead, if
he is halfway true to form, it will be an opus of
self-justification. Readers looking for juicy stuff
about Monica Lewinsky are likely to be disappointed.

For students of modern history, there may be new
material about Northern Ireland and the Middle East,
in which Mr Clinton was deeply involved. There will
surely be plenty about what Hillary called the "vast
right-wing conspiracy" against her husband, including
the pseudo-scandal of Whitewater.

Some talk of "score settling". In fact, if Clinton
rather than his ghostwriter is in charge of the
narrative, the bits about his early career in Arkansas
could be the most entertaining.

But whatever the content, the mere name of its
larger-than-life author will ensure the impact of My
Life. The timing of publication has thus been crucial
- and explains why Mr Clinton's editor even took to
sleeping overnight at his home in Chappaqua, New York,
to make sure his undisciplined charge finished the
job, so the book could appear next month.

Any later, and publication might have stolen the
thunder of John Kerry's coronation at the Democratic
convention in the last week of July. Or the book could
have been delayed until after the 2 November election
- by which time the country's attentions might have
shifted to an incoming Democratic president, and
Clinton's memoirs would be ancient history.

But the deeper question is, now Bill Clinton has his
life back, what will he do with it? In 2000 Al Gore,
anxious not to be tarred with the Clinton scandals,
barely allowed his boss to put a foot on the campaign
trail. The earnest Mr Kerry, however much he risks
being lost in the Clinton dazzle, is unlikely to make
the same mistake.

The former president will not win over wavering
Republicans, for whom he is still Bubba-cum-Beelzebub.
But he remains the Democrats' brightest star, and the
party's most potent fundraiser. For African Americans
and other core constituencies, he is a talisman.
Victory in 2004, it is said, will go to the side which
most effectively gets out the vote. And no one can do
that like Bill Clinton.

But his longer-term future is a mystery. Mr Clinton is
only 57, three years younger than Mr Kerry. Thanks to
speeches at up to $100,000 a go, and now the book, the
$5m legal debts from Whitewater are a distant memory.
For the first time in his life, he is rich. But then
again, money never much interested him.

Since leaving office, he toyed with - but rejected -
offers of a talk show. He briefly had a joint TV
commentary slot with his old sparring partner Bob
Dole. It has been suggested he might be UN secretary
general, mayor of New York, global anti-Aids supremo,
or even Mr Kerry's running mate. Who knows? All that
is certain is that after the travails of authorship,
Bill Clinton is back.
13 May 2004 12:59

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Posted by richard at May 13, 2004 02:53 PM