Jewish World Review June 25, 2004/ 6 Tamuz, 5764

Wesley Pruden

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Just like old times with Bill and Al | Bill Clinton and Al ("I am Gorrrrrrre, hear me rooooaaaarrr") Gore are back, and it's just like old times.

Bill is wistful and a little forgetful, waving an ominous cigar and reminiscing about his women, at least the ones he recalls. Al is just a guy in from the street and off his meds.

Bill spent the day autographing books for celebrity thrill seekers in New York, and Al was in Washington shrieking and squealing something about the evil of George W. Bush. Nobody could be quite sure what he was saying, but it was loud and frothy. Some of the people in the audience compared notes later, trying to figure out what it was he was saying, but all they could agree on is that he seemed angry about something.

First-day sales of "My Life" were a bit mixed. Bookstores in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles reported very good sales, but booksellers in Chattanooga, Chillicothe, Wichita, Phoenix, Lubbock and Albany and places in between were left to wonder what all the excitement was about, since none of it was between their racks. A clerk at Barnes & Noble in Sacramento said sales were good, "but nowhere near the British boy wizard." Comparing Mr. Clinton and Harry Potter is not exactly wizard, either, and anyway he's ahead of Hillary, whose book started slowly, without the media hype usually accorded only to burnt-out Hollywood stars, reformed serial killers and other glitteries who make the literary firmament glow.

The critics have not been kind. Even his apologists at what used to be home are disappointed. "Bill Clinton and many of his friends and associates endured unforgivable abuse and indignity from Kenneth Starr and the right wing," quoth one Little Rock critic. "Our Boy Bill was a pretty good president, and he is in many ways a good guy, unfairly maligned. So, I wish his book, 'My Life,' was better, even a tour de force. But wishing doesn't make it so." Arkansas readers have particular reason for taking offense, since the former governor doesn't even remember enough about home, or care enough, to get names right and put familiar landmarks in the right place.

The Little Rock review was nevertheless one of the most favorable of the first week, but why should our boy Bill care? The photographs of the first-day buyers, holding autographed volumes aloft and with euphoria written all over their faces after having endured long lines, told Alfred A. Knopf, his publisher, and all the little Knopfs everything they wanted to know. Not every turkey is born for Thanksgiving.

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Buyers of celebrity books are rarely disappointed, because most buyers of celebrity books rarely read them. There's a presidential signature on the flyleaf, and that's the proof that the buyer actually stood close enough to breathe the same air as a genuine president of the United States. Most of the buyers who actually read our boy Bill's memoir will be disappointed that he gives such short shrift to the tales of the many women pursued if not satisfied, wooed if not won, abused if not seduced. Only Monica and Gennifer will find themselves adequately displayed on the pages of the memoir. Gennifer has instructed her lawyers to see whether she can sue for slander, since our boy Bill, that ol' rascal, now says she wasn't a liar after all when she said they had been lovers once upon a time. Well, anybody who can afford a lawyer can sue.

Monica, who gave so much faithful service on her knees (and who was in Little Rock last week as a bridesmaid in a society wedding), is for all that cruelly dismissed. That woman, Miss Lewinsky, the ex-prez tells interviewers, is "really an intelligent person and fundamentally a good person." He hopes that she "won't be trapped in what Andy Warhol called everybody's 15 minutes of fame." That's not exactly what Andy Warhol actually said; Mr. Knopf obviously didn't assign a fact checker, or even a factoid checker, to our boy Bill. Not even an intern (probably a good thing).

Our boy Bill told Dan Rather that he only used the services of that woman, Miss Lewinsky, "because I could." Not very nice, but why not? asks superblogger Mickey Kaus. This explanation "focused on his own power while it treated Monica Lewinsky as an available, serviceable non-entity without any actual individual, attractive attributes." The usual job description for a Friend of Bill, you might say.

He abused the other women on a first come-first serve basis and could find no room for them in 957 pages, not even for Juanita Broaddrick, by whom he was credibly accused of rape. Bill Clinton's missing women can give thanks for the (lack of) memories. Better a roar from Gore.

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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