Over a year ago, I was browsing the shelves of a used bookstore and found a $1 copy of Christopher Hitchens’s No One Left to Lie To. Hitchens published the book toward the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency. So by the time I saw it in the bookstore, it was over a decade old.
I bought it only because I enjoy reading the writings of Christopher Hitchens; I often disagree with him, but I never find him boring. When I wasn’t sure that I’d ever read it, but I bought it anyway. After all, though I wanted to read Hitchens’s writings, the issues he writes about are old. I was not even in high school when the Clinton scandals took place. I have scattered memories of riding in the car with my father and listening to Rush Limbaugh talk about some of the scandals. But beyond that I don’t have much of a recollection.
But when Hillary Clinton declared that she was running for president, I thought I would read the book.
It’s a short book –– I think I read it in two sittings –– but it was generally interesting.
But it was clear in reading it that Christopher Hitchens just did not like the Clintons. So I thought I would share several passages from the book so that you can see the types of comments that Hitchens makes.
Some of you might not care to read this. But maybe some of you do. Maybe you liked reading Christopher Hitchens and so want to read his comments about the Clintons; maybe you just don’t like the Clintons and so would like to read Hitchens’s comments.
So, for those of you who are interested in reading them, what follows is a selection of quotes from Hitchens’s book.
Not an Even-Handed Book on the Clintons
In the opening sentences of the book, Hitchens explains that his book isn’t a neutral analysis of the Clintons:
[The book] is offered in the most cheerful and open polemical spirit, as an attack on a crooked president and a corrupt and reactionary administration….And it maintains, even insists, that the two most salient elements of Clintonism––the personal crookery on the one hand, and the cowardice and conservatism on the other––are indissolubly related.(p. 1)
On Clinton’s Political Operators Handling the Cheyenne-Arapaho Peoples
Hitchens writes about Clinton-Gore campaign’s “fleecing” of the Cheyenne-Arapaho peoples:
The Cheyenne-Arapaho peoples of Oklahoma have been attempting for years to regain land that was illegally seized from them by the federal government in 1869, Democratic Party fund-raisers persuaded the tribes that an ideal means of gaining attention would be to donate $107,000 to the Clinton-Gore campaign. This contribution secured them a small place at a large lunch with other Clinton donors, but no action. According to the Washington Post, a Democratic political operative named Michael Copperthite then petitioned [Nate] Landow to take up their cause. Landow first required them to register with the consulting firm of Peter Knight, who is Al Gore’s chief moneyman and promoter, for a $100,000 retainer and a fee of $10,000 per month. Then he demanded that the Cheyenne-Arapaho sign a development deal with him, handing over 10 percent of all income produced on the recovered land, including the revenues from oil and gas. When news of this nasty deal––which was rejected by the tribes––became public, the Democratic National Committee was forced to return the money and the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs issued a report describing the ‘fleecing’ of the Indians by ‘a series of Democratic operators, who attempted to pick their pockets for legal fees, land development and additional contributions.’
“These sort of ‘Democratic operators’ to whom Clinton turns when he needs someone to take care of business. And, of course, Mr. Landow’s daughter works at the White House, causing nobody to ask how she got her job. In Clinton’s Washington there is always affirmative action for such people.” (p. 11-12)
On Clinton’s Hypocrisy About Abstinence and Sex
“One feels almost laughably heavy-footed in pointing out that Mrs. Clinton’s prim little book, It Takes a Village, proposes sexual abstinence for the young, and that the president was earnestly seconding this very proposal while using an impressionable intern as the physical rather than moral equivalent of a blow-up doll.” (pp. 41-42)
On the Clintons’s Attempt at Healthcare Reform
The Clintons demagogically campaigned against the ‘insurance industry,’ while backing––and with the backing of––those large fish that were preparing to swallow the minnows. This strategy, invisible to the media (which in those days rather liked the image of Hillary versus the fat cats), was neatly summarized by Patrick Woodall of Ralph Nader’s Public Citizen:
‘The managed competition-style plan the Clintons have chosen virtually guarantees that the largest health-insurance companies––Aetna, Prudential, Met Life, Cigna, and The Travelers––will run the show in the health-care system.’
And Robert Dreyfuss of Physicians for a National Health Program added:
‘The Clintons are getting away with murder by portraying themselves as opponents of the insurance industry. It’s only the small fry that oppose their plan. Under any managed-competition scheme, the small ones will be pushed out of the market very quickly.’
And indeed it was to prove.” (pp. 51-52)
On Bill Clinton’s Place in History
“In the critical days of his impeachment struggle, Mr. Clinton was often said to be worried sick about his place in history. That place, however, is already secure. He will be remembered as the man who used the rhetoric of the New Democrat to undo the New Deal. He will also be remembered as a man who offered a groaning board of incentives for the rich and draconian admonitions to the poor.” (p. 59)
On Bill Clinton’s Cult-Like Followers
“I have known a number of people who work for and with…this man. They act like cult members while they are still under the spell, and talk like ex-cult members as soon as they have broken away.” (p. 76)
Why Does the Right Hate Bill Clinton?
“In 1996 I wrote an attack on the ‘lesser evil’ theory of political choice, which was printed in Dissent magazine and discussed at its editorial board. There the editor, Michael Walzer, inquired plaintively: ‘Why is it that some people on the Left seem to hate Bill Clinton?’ I thought then, and I think even more now, that the mystery lies elsewhere. Why do so many people on the Right hate Bill Clinton?” (p. 79)
Some of His Thoughts on Hillary Clinton
“Everything about this campaign, and everything about this candidate, was rotten from the very start. Mrs. Clinton has the most unappetizing combination of qualities to be met in many days’ march: she is a tyrant and a bully when she can dare to be, and an ingratiating populist when that will serve. She will sometimes appear in the guise of a ‘strong woman’ and sometimes in the softer garb of a winsome and vulnerable female. She is entirely un-self-critical and quite devoid of reflective capacity, and has never found that any of her numerous misfortunes or embarrassments are her own fault, because the fault invariably lies with others. And, speaking of where things lie, she can in a close contest keep up with her husband for mendacity. Like him, she is not just a liar but a lie; a phony construct of shreds and patches and hysterical, self-pitying, demagogic improvisations.” (p. 123)
A Listing of Hillary Clinton’s Wrongdoings
“Mrs. Clinton may now find it opportune to present herself as a survivor or even a victim, but the the [sic] plain facts remain that:
- The hiring of the squalid and unscrupulous Dick Morris, as advisor both at state and national level, was her idea. Mr. Morris has boasted of being a procurer for her husband as part of his package of political skills.
- The hiring of private detectives for the investigation and defamation of inconvenient women was also her idea.
- The dubious use of a powerful law firm as an engine of political patronage was principally her scheme.
- The firing of non-client White House staff, the amassing of files on political opponents, and the magical vanishing and reappearance of subpoenaed documents, all took place in her wing of the White House, and on her apparent instructions.
- A check for $50,000, written by a donor with intimate ties to Chinese military-industrial complex, was hand-delivered to her chief of staff in the White House.
- On a notable occasion, she urged investigative journalists to pursue the rumor that President George Bush had kept a mistress on his payroll.
- She allowed the exploitation of her daughter in the crudest and most painful photo-ops in living memory.
- She regarded the allegation of a sexual arrangement with Monica Lewinsky as proof positive of ‘a vast right-wing conspiracy.’
- She further accused those who pursued that allegation of harboring a prejudice against people from Arkansas, while hailing herself from Illinois, and readying a campaign to represent New York.
- On a visit to New Zealand, she claimed to have been named for Sir Edmund Hillary’s ascent of Everest; a triumph that occurred some years after her birth and christening. (I insert this true story partly for comic relief, as showing an especially fantastic sense of self-reinvention as well as a desperate, mysterious willingness to pander for the Kiwi vote.)
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