Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sympathy For The Devil

"I can’t say I’ve got any great answers. I think King got something good out of it, in a perverse way. He was driven to seek penance by public sacrifice for private failings. He would preach about the mystery of evil: Why could we not cast out this demon? But you know, with Clinton, I just had this assumption that when you hear all this, some of it’s true. I assumed that he had resolved to make it true no longer. Which is pretty much what King did. He resolved openly to his aides, 'There’s too much at stake here. I’ve got to stop this.' And some of the greatest regret in King’s life was that he couldn’t do it. With Clinton, what he said was that it was a real lapse of feeling sorry for himself. He said it had to do with politics. Now, most people think that these compulsions have to do with more fundamental human things. I don’t know whether that’s true. All I know is that he said it happened when he thought he was doing a good job and got sucker punched. I didn’t read the Lewinsky stuff until I was working on the book. It was so tawdry. It was depressing to me. It’s fervid and tormented and brief. There were two bookends to it: He had these trysts with her during the shutdown and then banished her to the Pentagon or wherever the hell she went, and then she came back in that period right after the ’96 election, when he thought [the Whitewater investigation] was going to go away and it didn’t. He says he was feeling sorry for himself because of what was going on in politics, and that he just lost it. That’s what he said.

He has enormous tolerance for honest criticism. I think he can take it raw, as long as he doesn’t detect that it’s done for malice. I was trying to show him the way he really is, and I think he respects that."

-- Taylor Branch, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, on (his friend) Bill Clinton, Martin Luther King (who was the subject of three excellent biographies by Branch) and their adultery - which is, both, nobody's business and no big thing, right? - with a second paragraph added (to show how, I think, even Bill Clinton can be a better person than most people) from Gentlemen's Quarterly.

No comments:

Post a Comment