"Definitive" Book on Clinton, Monica and Whitewater

Does anyone still care about Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky, Ken Starr and Whitewater?

The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr, a 769 page book by Duquesne law professor Ken Gormley, which Politico says is "the definitive" history on the "scandal" will be published in February.

Both Bill Clinton and Ken Starr agreed to tell their stories to the author. Apparently, neither one gets a clean bill of health. [More...]

Through 769 pages, Gormley, a Duquesne University law professor, offers a detailed, even scholarly retelling of an epic saga of grand jury depositions, fevered partisans and a single stained blue dress that once transfixed a nation — but which many Americans are surely eager to leave in the past.

Even so, the book represents an attempt by a law professor and prominent legal pundit to write what he is billing as the most complete and evenhanded account of the tumultuous criminal investigation that explored Clinton’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, nearly ended his presidency and ultimately boomeranged on Starr, staining the professional reputation of one of America’s foremost constitutional scholars.

The highlights seem to be:

  • the author believes, but won't say why, Clinton had an affair with Susan Macdougal (which, he also says, didn't impact her refusal to testify against him.)
  • Monica wrote the author that she believes Clinton lied in his grand jury testimony
  • Prosecutors seriously violated Monica's rights by questioning her without a lawyer:
    “I wouldn’t have touched her with a 10-foot pole,” said the lawyer hired to examine the episode, Jo Ann Harris, breaking her silence about her findings on the effort to lure in Lewinsky for questioning. “The minute she says, ‘Can I call my lawyer?’ you stop…. And when she says it for the sixth or seventh time, you really stop….There are limits.”
  • Bill Clinton is still mad. (Who wouldn't be?) He told the author:
    “They were disgraced, and he [Hyde] knows it. They ran a partisan hit job run by a bitter right winger, Henry Hyde, who turned out to be a hypocrite on the personal issues….Yeah, I will always have a asterisk after my name, but I hope I’ll have two asterisks: one is ‘They impeached him,” and the other is ‘He stood up to them and beat them, and he beat them like a yard dog.’”

One person Gormley did not get to interview: Hillary.

Update: Also in the book, an accusation by a Secret Service agent that the FBI tried to get him to lie about Clinton.

The official, Lewis C. Merletti, who headed the former president’s protective detail and later became the agency’s director, said in an interview that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had grilled him just days before Mr. Clinton left office in a last-ditch effort to prove that his agents had covered up and even facilitated extramarital flings.

Mr. Merletti said that the F.B.I. alleged that he and Mr. Clinton had concocted this deal: in exchange for Mr. Merletti’s stonewalling questions about Ms. Lewinsky, Mr. Clinton would not only appoint him director of the Secret Service but would also provide him women for sexual encounters.

“They said to me, ‘You’re the last person who can give us the president, and you’re going to give him to us,’ ” Mr. Merletti recalled. He called it “disgraceful” and said of the F.B.I., “They became involved in a political game, and in the end they tarnished themselves beyond belief.”

The allegation dovetails with a comment by another former prosecutor that Bill Clinton never knew how close he came to being indicted. From the Politico article:

Starr’s successor Robert Ray was prepared to indict Clinton soon after he left office if he did not agree to admit that he made false statements about Lewinsky under oath and accept disbarment. Ray “was ready to ‘pull the trigger’ if the conditions he imposed were not satisfied,” Gormley writes, and had to be “cajoled” by a colleague into signing off on the final deal.

“President Clinton would never fully grasp how close he came to being indicted,” Gormley writes.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Oh my, do I have the stomach for that one? (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by ruffian on Sun Dec 20, 2009 at 08:27:33 PM EST
    I still have a stack of Bush years books I'm too mad to read.  

    Funny - having lived through those (none / 0) (#14)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sun Dec 20, 2009 at 09:15:25 PM EST
    horrible years, I can't imagine spending hours and hours of good reading time re-visiting that horror.

    People will stop writing these books as soon as they stop selling. I will hope they can't give this trash away. Similar garbage has ended up on the Barnes & Noble clearance shelves at half price shortly after release...maybe this will have the same end.


    I, being the housewife that I am (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Dec 20, 2009 at 10:14:58 PM EST
    Thanks to Dubya Bush have read Fiasco and Cobra II so that I could actually attempt to understand even after I understood all the lies, how the Bush administration went even farther down that road and totally screwed our military forces in Iraq.  If anyone had told me when I was twenty something that I would buy and read books about a foul blatant act of American aggression I would have told them they were nuts.  At that time I planned on meditating for most of my mid-life crisis :)

    Me, too, except (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Dec 20, 2009 at 10:36:25 PM EST
    I have half a dozen such books I only got part-way through.  Once the Bush creature rode off into the sunset, I didn't even have the stomach for the outrage over the full details anymore.  Got halfway through the book about Curveball before having to give up to keep my eyes from rolling right out of my head.

    Was this book published by (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by shoephone on Sun Dec 20, 2009 at 08:29:35 PM EST
    People Magazine? Man, is there anyone out there--and I mean besides conservative crackpots--that cares about this?

    "The author believes, but won't say why, Clinton had an affair with Susan Macdougal (which, he also says, didn't impact her refusal to testify against him.)"

    The author is obviously a slimeball who had to come up with a gimmick to sell this trashy book. The MacDougal angle is that gimmick.

    I thought the Clinton's were given (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sun Dec 20, 2009 at 09:11:14 PM EST
    a beating over this that far exceeded justice, but nothing compared to what Susan McDougal had to endure. I believe her when she says there was no affair between her and Bill...she didn't owe him her silence and she could have reversed her fate if she had claimed there was an affair. She said she wasn't going to lie for them no matter what they put her through.

    Agree totally (none / 0) (#19)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Dec 20, 2009 at 10:37:55 PM EST
    Susan McDougal is the real deal.  Also not, sorry to say, Bill Clinton's type for dalliances.

    Did you read her book? It's absolutely fabulous.  A wonderful, wonderrul heart-lifting read.


    Argh. (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by Anne on Sun Dec 20, 2009 at 08:54:07 PM EST
    How much longer, how many more years, is this going to keep being resurrected?  And to what end - is this all about making sure that every time someone-named-Clinton is getting positive press or is poised to assume office that we are reminded that no one-named-Clinton can be trusted?

    Ken Starr was and is driven by his extreme prudishness, and I just do not care that he thought he was saving us all from the horror of this-man-named-Clinton; it had nothing to do with governing the country.

    Shoot, I would trade 100 Barack Obamas for one-person-named-Clinton any day of the week.

    Watch Hillary's approval go up :) (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by nycstray on Sun Dec 20, 2009 at 08:56:29 PM EST
    The death of American virtue? (5.00 / 3) (#16)
    by Spamlet on Sun Dec 20, 2009 at 09:21:04 PM EST
    That would be when George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were not indicted at 12:01 pm on January 20, 2009.

    perhaps (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by cpinva on Sun Dec 20, 2009 at 11:22:32 PM EST
    Duquesne law professor Ken Gormley could spend some of his valuable time writing a tome on the lies of the bush/cheney administration, lies that cost lives and had an actual impact on the country and world. as opposed to the lewinsky affair, which didn't.

    it was nonsense then, and that hasn't changed with time.

    Seems to me that this book was originally planned (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by DFLer on Sun Dec 20, 2009 at 11:49:13 PM EST
    to be published sometime in the first year of an anticipated H.R. Clinton administration...in hopes of high pub and/or hopes of high distraction and destruction.

    just thinking...

    So, I check out the scandal sheets in (none / 0) (#1)
    by oculus on Sun Dec 20, 2009 at 08:23:12 PM EST
    the supermarket checkout line--nothing re Tiger Woods.  Angelina Jolie is back on the front pages.  Maybe this book will put Bill Clinton on the front page of the Enquirer.  But, why on earth would Clinton agree to talk to the author?

    Because he needs to let off some (none / 0) (#12)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sun Dec 20, 2009 at 09:07:49 PM EST
    steam and he can't talk about what's really upsetting him?

    The abduction and questioning of (none / 0) (#4)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Dec 20, 2009 at 08:33:03 PM EST
    Monica Lewinsky was so illegal, that's probably the only thing I care about in all of it!  The title cracks me up.  America has always had a sliding scale when it comes to calculating virtue, and one virtue or the lack thereof does not speak of any other countryman's virture......that's the reality of every other nation on the planet too.  Ridiculous Title!  So stupid I'll never buy it or read it.

    Good point. Plus, wasn't it Starr v. Clinton, (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by oculus on Sun Dec 20, 2009 at 08:44:45 PM EST
    not vice versa?

    Blame the publisher for that (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Dec 20, 2009 at 10:38:57 PM EST
    Lots of good books have had horrible titles insisted on by the publisher.  I think they're hoping the title will appeal to the right wing, which loves constructions like that.

    They lost me (none / 0) (#22)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Dec 20, 2009 at 11:26:42 PM EST
    BREAKING: test Senate vote at 1:00am (none / 0) (#6)
    by Ellie on Sun Dec 20, 2009 at 08:45:36 PM EST
    sorry for the OT (or if I'm the last to know), but this just came off the wires

    In case any of the local health / Senate mavens want to keep an eye on it and/or live-blog the goings on, here's the article:

    Health Care bill faces key Senate test vote
    By AP Special Correspondent David Espo

    ... Under Senate rules, Democrats needed 60 votes on three separate occasions to pass the measure. The first and most critical test was set for about 1 a.m. Monday. Democrats said Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson's announcement Saturday that he would vote for the bill gave them the support they needed. ... more ...

    I read somewhere else that Feingold might be going for the block.

    (Also, re: Monica related stuff, is there anything left to pick over on that time-waster?)

    Not breaking (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by andgarden on Sun Dec 20, 2009 at 08:53:45 PM EST
    We knew this yesterday.

    Is anyone at TL live-blogging it? (none / 0) (#10)
    by Ellie on Sun Dec 20, 2009 at 09:01:47 PM EST
    (I don't follow all the threads so I missed the handicapping, etc.)

    I'm doing ambient work / goofing so I'm not on the clock.


    The Dems have the votes (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by andgarden on Sun Dec 20, 2009 at 09:17:04 PM EST
    They'll get cloture.

    Duquesne is a Catholic and Spiritan (none / 0) (#11)
    by oculus on Sun Dec 20, 2009 at 09:07:29 PM EST
    sponsored university.  Doing good works for the poor.  That sort of thing.  link

    And some think Obama has it bad (none / 0) (#24)
    by citizen53 on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 02:48:50 AM EST
    The Clintons were and will always be public enemy number 1 to the other side.  They made mistakes, but they fought back.  Obama could learn something in my opinion.

    What ticks me off is... (none / 0) (#25)
    by kdog on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 09:07:25 AM EST
    in the future all people will remember is the blue dress, and Bill gets to skate on the real wrong he helped bring upon the nation...like that disgrace of a Crime Bill he signed.

    Not saying it was... (none / 0) (#28)
    by kdog on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 11:44:04 AM EST
    his fault that the right had such a hard on for him...just that this is the lasting story, the witch hunt and the BJ...and nobody talks about what a lousy president he was on issues of actual importance.

    Knowing that the 'thug (none / 0) (#29)
    by jondee on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 12:03:30 PM EST
    dirty tricks boy's m.o was to keep their feral, pointy snouts to the ground in search of any compromising info on their perceived adversaries, in retrospect, maybe it would've been a good preemptive strategy to make sure Bubba kept it zipped up in the Whitehouse.



    Yes, political-celebrity (none / 0) (#30)
    by jondee on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 12:18:28 PM EST
    dirt and bullsh*t "pays off". This is news?

    This was a two-fer for certain media channels: potential political gain AND a coup for the sleaze mongers. Too good to be true.