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Thursday, October 19, 2017

In his new book Man of the World: The Further Endeavors of Bill Clinton, published today by Simon & Schuster, National Memo editor Joe Conason tells the remarkable story of the 42nd president’s emergence from the dark days of his White House departure to become, perhaps, one of the most recognizable and admired men in the world. Conason examines Clinton’s achievements, his failures, his motivations, and why he continues to inspire (and infuriate) on a grand scale.

What follows is an exclusive excerpt from the book’s opening pages.


On the first morning he woke up as a private citizen there was nobody around to serve breakfast to Bill Clinton. For eight years he and Hillary had lived in the White House, where staffers and servants rushed to meet every need; and for ten years before that, they had lived in the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion, where similar if not quite equal personal service had always been available at any hour.

It was Sunday, January 21, 2001—and that was all over now.

Both Clintons rose to face their new life somewhat exhausted from the long ordeal of Inauguration Day, which had begun in the White House greeting the new occupants, then continued through the ceremonial investiture of President George W. Bush amid snow and sleet, a protracted farewell with hundreds of friends and staffers at Andrews Air Force Base, and an unusually long journey from Washington to their new home.

Under the foreboding sky, a freezing downpour had grounded the Marine helicopter that was supposed to transport them from the capital, and had later slowed the usual hour’s drive from John F. Kennedy Airport to Chappaqua, roughly forty miles north of the city. There they had ended the day dining late at a local restaurant with daughter Chelsea, their close friends Terry McAuliffe and his wife Dorothy, and Douglas Band, a former deputy assistant to the president who had agreed to stay with Clinton into his post-presidency.

Nobody had known just how tired the former president was until he fell fast asleep in the Chevy Suburban that brought them all from Kennedy Airport to Westchester.

When the Clintons came downstairs on that first morning, the former president and first lady realized that not only was there nobody available to prepare breakfast for them, but that they had no idea how to make even a cup of coffee in their sparsely furnished and rarely occupied new home. Neither did any of the others standing around in the kitchen with them. But everyone needed caffeine, badly.

“Let’s go get some coffee,” said Clinton.

The first executive decision of William Jefferson Clinton’s post- presidency was to venture into the snowy little town to visit the local delicatessen and bring back some coffee and sandwiches. Pulling on a bright yellow fleece sweatshirt over his T-shirt and jeans, Clinton joined Band in an armored Cadillac limousine, driven by a Secret Service agent, followed by another vehicle with four more agents.

Clinton noticed the first hint of trouble a few minutes later, when they arrived at Lange’s Little Shop and Delicatessen on King Street, the town’s main drag. The deli’s Sunday morning crowd of customers was friendly enough, with a few people shouting “Eight more years!” and “We love you, Bill!” But reporters were milling on the sidewalk, too. When they spied Clinton’s small entourage pulling up, a few began to bark questions. At first he could barely hear what they were saying.

“Why did you pardon Marc Rich?”

Alarmed, Doug Band leapt out of the back passenger seat and walked around to the other side of the car, where Clinton already had stepped out. He put an arm around Band’s shoulder and whispered softly but firmly: “I’ll give you five minutes to clear all this away.” He didn’t want the armored limousine and all the agents swarming around the closed street. He wanted to arrive in his new hometown more in the style of an ordinary citizen.

Minutes later, Clinton ventured into the crowded deli, where spontaneous applause lit his face with a smile. While Band placed their order, including an egg-salad sandwich for Clinton, he shook hands with his new neighbors, posed for cell phone snapshots, and signed autographs on scraps of paper.

There was no means of escape from the gang of perhaps a dozen or so reporters, which felt to Clinton and Band like a horde of hundreds who suddenly had total access to the former president. Nor did Clinton feel he could simply walk away without answering any of their questions—some friendly, some not so friendly. New York Times reporter Adam Nagourney, who had covered both Clintons for years, would later write that the president appeared “in a chatty mood,” relaxed and rested as he mingled with neighbors and reporters.

 “So far it’s been wonderful,” Clinton said of life after the presidency. On his first night in Chappaqua he had slept “like a rock,” he added— and no, he hadn’t bothered to read the Sunday papers or turn on the television yet.

With pleasantries out of the way, what ensued was an impromptu press conference. The journalists peppered a wholly unprepared ex-president with inquiries about the scores of pardons and commutations—totaling 177—he had signed during his last day in the White House. Mostly he responded to the questions in generalities, offering a promise to prepare a memo on the “pardon process” for his successor, and a short lecture on compassion toward former sinners.

“The word ‘pardon’ is somehow almost a misnomer,” said Clinton. “You’re not saying these people didn’t commit the offense. You’re saying they paid, they paid in full.” In fairness, he suggested, “we ought to be more open-minded” about individuals who have discharged their debt to society.

Perhaps those deserving of compassion included people like Susan McDougal, the Whitewater figure who had refused to implicate the Clintons in wrongdoing and spent miserable years in jail, or Henry Cisneros, the former housing secretary convicted of paying off a mistress with public funds, who had left office in disgrace. He had pardoned both of them. Arguably even a repentant narcotics smuggler who had done serious time might deserve consideration. That “paid in full” category, however, most assuredly did not include Rich, the “fugitive financier” holed up in a luxurious Swiss chateau while refusing to face multiple charges of tax fraud and violating the U.S. embargo against Iran.

Why would you pardon him?
“I spent a lot of time on that case. I think there are very good reasons for it,” Clinton replied, and referred further inquiries to Rich’s Washington attorney, Jack Quinn, who had formerly worked for him in the White House counsel’s office. Quinn could explain the legal theory behind the pardons of Rich and his business partner, Pincus Green, who had faced similar charges, fled to Switzerland with Rich, and received a pardon, too.

At last Clinton said he needed to go home, to continue the weekend’s work of unpacking with Hillary, who was thrilled to have a private home again and always loved to organize anything and everything. Sitting in the house were well over a hundred boxes of books alone. He needed time to get himself together, he chuckled, and get some more sleep.

But back on Old House Lane, reporters and TV crews would soon line up on the street, outside the tall white security fence surrounding the Clintons’ rambling Dutch colonial residence. Notoriously unfriendly to the press and sensing a media emergency, Band placed a call for help to Howard Wolfson—a tough and loyal pro who had handled press and communications for Hillary’s Senate campaign the year before. Wolfson dutifully drove up from the city and, before sundown, Clinton stepped into the chilly air outside for a photo opportunity and a few offhand remarks so that everyone else could finally could go home, too.

The newly sworn junior senator from New York stayed inside all day, wisely insulating herself from even the appearance of entanglement in her husband’s latest burgeoning crisis. That afternoon, a familiar atmosphere of tension loomed over the house, a feeling that things might be descending once again from bad into much, much worse.

Excerpted from Man of the World: The Further Endeavors of Bill Clinton, by Joe Conason. Copyright © 2016 by Joe Conason. Excerpted by permission of Simon & Schuster.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Copyright 2016 The National Memo

18 Responses to Exclusive Excerpt: ‘Man Of The World: The Further Endeavors Of Bill Clinton’

  1. Marital infidelities notwithstanding, President Clinton was one of our best Presidents, and his post presidential record one of the most remarkable. He is not hated because he was a failure, he is hated because of his successes.

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  3. I’m assuming this book is the fiction based, “bleached” version of Bill’s exploits, otherwise the title would have to be: “Man Of The World – He Just Keeps On Dicking”.

    And, of course, it would have to be displayed and sold in the pornographic section at the back of book stores behind the curtain .

    • Bill Clinton has not been implicated in any scandal involving any other woman since Lewinsky, are you saying that All the movie stars and public figures that rode on the plane are involved, do you have evidence? Bill Clinton had an affair it was CONSENTUAL, with another adult. He has never been accused of the slander that you just printed. He left office and created a charity that helps over 420 million poor people a year. He is now and has been since he was president surrounded by SECRET SERVICE are you implying they are involved? People like you who accuse others of crimes are often guilty of the same. Take
      for instance the republicans who impeached a president for lying about having an affair, while all of them were simultaneously having one themselves. You poured a lot of hate filled libelous slander toward the former president I wonder do you have the same disdain for former president Bush who also happened to ignore the FBI warnings on 9/11, who led us into an illegal war and crippled our economy was also rumored to have had an affair, along with EVERY SINGLE PRESIDENT WE HAVE EVER HAD, but your a republican so In your mind a CONSENTUAL affair by a democrat equals scandal and one by a republican FAUX FAMILY VALUES CANDIDATE WHO IS REPONSIBLE FOR WAR CRIMES IS ridiculous. Please make America great again and you and your COMMIE LOVING PARTY EXIT STAGE LEFT TO RUSSIA!

  4. Ah yes, the Marc Rich pardon that was requested by the Israelis and that sent the MSM into a tizzy. Compare that to the media shrugging off Poppy Bush’s pardon of Caspar Weinberger for lying under oath to aid the coverup of the illegal, deeply unconstitutional Iran Contra operation. By pardoning Weinberger Bush kept the evidence that he was lying when he claimed to have been out of the loop when in fact he was deeply involved. (His right hand man and long time friend Donald Gregg oversaw the Cobtra op.) No double standard there.

    • …and an obscure Lt. Colonel took a bullet for the Gipper…
      Don’t expect a congressional investigation into that episode any time soon…

  5. You know what make me laugh most? Men who didn’t get away with adultery are the very ones who hate that Hillary kept her marriage together.

    Then, you have the men who loathe President Clinton for the very same reason they hate President Obama, both are the product of single Moms. And to all good little Daddies’ boys out there, how dare a man aspire to anything higher in life than garbage collector, right?

    So, you do have the Daddies Boys like Karl Rove, Grover Norquist, Reverend Ralph, Can’t Keep it in His Pants, Reed, Eric “Blackwater” Prince and Ken “Whitewater” Starr all chomping at the bit to bring a Rhodes Scholar like President William Jefferson Clinton down.

    You do have men who try to make the case that Hillary was a murderer of Vince Foster when Foster’s own wife admitted he was bipolar and tried 2 times before he ever knew either Clinton to commit suicide.

    Then you have the BernieCrats, big babies who didn’t get their Jewish male for President, (because Sanders, unlike Senator Schumer, is a no name liar and thief), who try desperately to pin any tiny speck of guilt even when they have ZERO proof.

    No it was NOT Marc Rich who was requested by the Israelies. More BS from a BernieCrat. It was Bernie Sanders though who owns 38 Dominion Oil investments while he bashed hell out of Wall Street and publicly stated he is the “poorest senator.” Really Bernie? When you own 3 homes in Vermont priced over $600,000 each?

    This is why there will be the 1st female president. Women are FED UP with the little boys out there always finding something else to go to battle over. Always trying desperately to smear others instead of getting up off their lazy butts and becoming productive human beings. But, productive and conservative are anathema.

    They don’t mention that it was Reagan who sent George HW Bush to Iran to broker the deal to delay the release of the hostages in Iran do they? Nor, do they bother to mention how Reagan planned to hand the Iranians $200 million ransom which he NEVER paid.

    But now, these jackasses of the right are desperate desperate desperate desperate to pin that on President Obama. Wow…when slime spreads out like a river, you have to build a dam and keep it away from our kids.

  6. Wow….that was quite an ordeal just to get some breakfast!!! I didn’t realize that this type of situation occurred for outgoing presidents. He seemed to have handled it well despite everything!

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