Some interesting stuff here in a GQ interview with Taylor Branch, the historian, about his new book “The Clinton Tapes,” a product of Branch’s project to footnote the Clinton presidency.
The Bill Clinton in this book is very different than the version we came to know in the press. You describe a guy who was steadfast and idealistic, very different from the wishy-washy, flip-flopping caricature who let Dick Morris tell him what to do.
It was almost like a credential for old liberals to look down on Clinton, because if you looked down on Clinton, you could say, “He’s betrayed liberalism,” but you didn’t have to uphold anything yourself. All you had to do was talk about what a shit he was or what a sellout he was and you could get this cheap credential.
Meanwhile, you’re seeing this guy whose face is red with allergies, he’s so tired that his eyes are rolling back in his head.… He’s the last fighting baby boomer.
Well, yeah. For example, I admire Obama greatly, but if you compare Clinton and Obama on the National Rifle Association, Obama said, “It’s not worth it.” Right from the get-go. “You can’t win.” And Clinton was going after the NRA and assault weapons and cop-killer bullets the whole time. And he paid for it, and maybe it was a mistake, because it certainly hurt him in the 1994 congressional elections. But he did stick to his guns, as it were. He took risks. On Haiti—restoring Aristide. I would hear him say it: “This is going to hurt my presidency.” Or, “I could go down the tubes for this.”