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Partners in Power
The Clintons and Their America,
by Roger Morris, published April 1999
(Click for Amazon book review)
BOOK REVIEW by OnTheIssues.org:
This book is anti-Clinton. But more so, it's anti-Democrat. And even more so, it's anti-Republican, anti-Washington-DC, and anti-politician. In that context, I would not call this an anti-Hillary book, because that would mean the author, Roger Morris, believes Hillary would be a bad president, and we should vote for someone else. Morris believes, it seems, that the entire system is so corrupt that it's not possible to have a GOOD president, and therefore it hardly matters who we vote for. The book's theme can be summarized as, "All politicians are evil and therefore the Clintons are evil."
The book jacket describes Morris as working "in the finest tradition of investigative journalism," but I'd put that more accurately as working "in the worst tradition of cynical journalism." I can't find anything in this book that Morris believes in -- although I can find plenty of what he believes AGAINST. Morris seems to believe that EVERYONE is a bad president -- he bashes Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, and then bashes Hillary too. This book was written in 1996, and since it's about Bill and Hillary, they receive most of the bashing. But look, for example, at how Morris describes Washington DC: "Hard beneath Capitol Hill's oily deference and camaraderie was remorseless cannibalism."
The book calls itself "a dual biography" of Bill & Hillary Clinton, following their lives chronologically from their childhood homes in Hope AR and Park Ridge IL, to the White House. It's really more of a "triple biography," adding as the third character the American polity, from the Washington political establishment to the press to the Arkansas voters and then finally American society as a whole. The third subject of the biography is described as "a political system gone lethally wrong." Since me and you, dear reader, are members of that American polity, we are implicitly bashed also, which is perhaps why I feel this book is so negative.
The book isn't quite a biography (which would include positives as well as negatives), since it is strictly a negative examination, without ever acknowledging positive accomplishments. The book also deals heavily with Ronald Reagan, and a bit with George H. W. Bush Sr., who were presidents during Clinton's governorship. There's a whole chapter on the conspiracy theory of the Mena airport in Arkansas, where (Morris claims) the CIA ran cocaine to fund the Iran-Contra deal, under the explicit approval of Reagan, Bush Sr., and Gov. Clinton. Everyone else the book touches on also gets bashed: from Roger Clinton (Bill's brother, whose drug habits are detailed) to Gerald Ford (who "laid the foundation for the bloated Pentagon budgets of the 1980s.") Even journalists get bashed: "American journalism managed little substantive understanding of or concern for governance and posed no genuine check to the real regime's billowing power," Morris describes the 1990s.
So who should read this book? Well, negativists, pessimists, and cynics will just eat this stuff up. Conspiracy theorists will just LOVE the Mena airport chapter. Anti-Hillary people should certainly add this to their repertoire, since Morris explicitly states, for example, that Hillary had an affair with Vince Foster (among numerous other scandals).
And who should avoid this book? Anyone who believes, still, that the press has a positive role; that government can change society for the better; or that people at their core are basically good.
I put myself firmly in this latter optimistic category, and therefore I found this book to be needlessly pessimistic. In my work with OnTheIssues and elsewhere, I have dealt with hundreds of politicians, some of whom I've supported and many of whom I've opposed. But the one thing in common I've found, among all those politicians, even the ones I worked hard to defeat electorally, is that they all truly believe that they can change their part of the world for the better. I often disagree with HOW they want to change it, but I have never found any politician who's actually in it just for the money, or for the power, or for anything else. Politicians are in politics because they want to do some good. That's why they enter the arena, and put themselves on the line for criticisms like Morris'. And they all deserve a lot more respect than Morris gives them.
-- by Jesse Gordon, jesse@OnTheIssues.org, March 2008
The Clintons and Their America,
by Roger Morris, published April 1999.
Updated Book Review for 2016 race:
Al Gore chose to distance himself from Bill Clinton in 2000, both on moral issues and on policy issues. Hillary will not repeat that mistake. Bill and Hillary agree on some issues, and disagree on others; some examples follow:
Page last edited: Feb 20, 2019