Sunday, 4 July 2010
Two book reviews for Amazon: I give both five stars
Mrs Clinton has truly lived history - and may well have more history to make - and I readily confess that I admire both her and Mr Clinton. The secret of Bill Clinton's rise to the governorship of Arkansas and then to the presidency seems to me to have been a direct result of his having grown up in the South and, consequently, having an easy and understanding relationship with much of the black community. This, though, is probably part of the reason for some who have had very uneasy relationships with the black community having it in for Bill. We don't - yet - have a large black community in Great Britain and I am opposed to further massive increases in non-white immigration. I am also opposed - in the same way that Harry Stein seems now to be - to 'multi-culturalism.' But America is not Great Britain. America has always been multi-racial and multi-cultural. Bill Clinton, ably aided by his Illinois-born wife who grew up in 'Yankee territory' and initially knew less of the South, has always been able to deal easily with the multitude of races and the multitude of cultures that make up the United States of America and, whilst I rail against my country changing too much and too rapidly, the former president and the former 'First Lady' found friends and supporters right across the racial and cultural ranges in their great country. My wife and I felt this to our very beings on the brief occasions that we met the campaigning Clintons and on the day of President Clinton's first inauguration in 1993. We rejoiced then with many other races and cultures and it is worth remembering that Bill followed one of the Bush presidents and, in turn, was followed by the other Bush president. Does anyone in either of our great countries seriously suggest that either Bush was superior to Bill Clinton? I think not.
Hillary Rodham Clinton was convinced that a 'vast right-wing conspiracy' was out to get her and her husband. The evidence that she produces is extremely convincing and it is well that it is clearly documented. I am convinced that the conspiracy was initiated and motivated by and through the ancient but understandable animosities of Arkansas, a beautiful state with a divided and troubled history. I am also convinced that the American people, through their representatives and through successive polls, delivered verdicts on Bill and Hillary Clinton that enabled both to continue to serve their country whilst holding to higher political policies and standards than their critics of 'the Right' could ever contrive. It has also been amusing to re-read reports of the immoral imbroglios of some of their principal and most vocal critics. Nobody is perfect, but Bill and Hillary Clinton are better people than I or their principal critics are. I salute both of them and I commend whole-heartedly Mrs Clinton's excellent and well-written book.
However, I have always been on 'the Right' in British politics. I was an admirer of Margaret Thatcher (and President Ronald Reagan) and, because I have been and am one of those who shout at the TV when too much left-wing liberalism appears on the screen, I can understand the rage that such as Harry Stein exhibits in his later books. I was never a political Liberal: Mr Stein was. It is clear that Mr Stein is now, like me, one of those who shout at the TV. He does more than shout: he writes well, too. I wonder if one or both of the following factors have played a part in Mr Stein's 'conversion' from 'Liberal' to 'TV shouter.' First, he has aged. According to wikipedia he was born in 1948. That makes his age about 62. I started shouting at the TV when I was about 62. Second, Harry Stein married well. (In fact he married Priscilla Turner, a distant cousin of my wife). He has children (who are also, therefore, my wife's distant cousins). He has responsibilities. A lot of former 'Liberal' men with nice wives, children and responsibilities become right-wing or 'TV shouters' or both. I understand all this. What I cannot understand is Mr Stein's vitriolic diatribe against the Clintons. This diatribe suffuses the whole of his book. If one believes, as I do, that a 'vast right-wing conspiracy' was out to get Hillary and Bill Clinton and, if one acknowledges, as I do, that the conspiracy was flawed and failed, then Mr Stein demeans himself and his otherwise excellent writing by harping on about the Clintons.