Monday, February 22, 2010

Where Former Presidents Go to Fly

Carol Felsenthal. Clinton in Exile: A President Out of the White House. New York: Harper, 2009.

Bill Clinton left the Presidency in 2001 with a 66% approval rating in one poll. Clinton states he enjoyed being President. In his last days in office, numerous people asked him to pardon people. He pardoned or commuted the sentences for 140 people.

Al Gore was an influential Vice President who was deeply involved in policies, especially in foreign relations and environmental issues. Clinton had great personal relation skills and Gore had a strong intellect as well as good Congressional ties.

Clinton called many people for advice. Clinton respected Gore’s advice. Gore distanced himself from Clinton during the 2000 campaign and didn’t ask for Clinton’s help with campaigning. Former Democratic National Committee leader Don Fowler, among others, believe this was a mistake by Gore.

Tabloid reports claimed the Clintons left the White House with items that belonged in the White House. These reports were mostly false as the Clintons took things given to them personally, yet they did return some times. Other false reports emerged that the Clinton had removed items from the Presidential aircraft and that his staff had damaged White House equipment. This was followed by criticisms of the people he had pardoned.

Clinton’s pardon of Marc Rich was criticized even by some leading Democrats. Clinton was surprised by the outrage.

Former Presidents get official offices. Clinton accepted the idea of Rep. Charles Rangel to put his office in Rangel’s Harlem district. This was one of the least wealthy urban districts.

One of Clinton’s first major post Presidential efforts was to raise money for rebuilding and relief efforts in the aftermath of a major earthquake in India.

Clinton had earned $35,000 as Arkansas Governor and $200,000 as President. He had legal bills of $12 million. He sought to buy a house in New York yet was, at first, turned down for a mortgage. Clinton was able to pay debts by lecturing at a $100,000 minimum price. He earned over $50 million in lecture fees in seven years.

Clinton did not like Jimmy Carter. Clinton felt Carter had caused his defeat for reelection as Governor by placing 1,800 Cuban refugees in Arkansas, 1,000 of whom escaped and rioted, even after Carter had promised not to send Arkansas more refugees. Many Arkansas voters blamed Clinton for allowing Carter to do this. Yet, Clinton admired how Carter’s post-Presidency had served many good causes worldwide.

Carter and Clinton disagree on matters such as Haiti, where Carter was attempting to the resignation of its dictator while Clinton sent in troops to remove the dictator. Carter was also critical of Clinton for his sex scandals.

Clinton received $12 million for his autobiography. This may be the largest advance for a nonfiction book every paid.

Clinton hangs around with many billionaires, including ones who are single and have airplanes that they loan to Clinton. Clinton’s reputed best friend is Ronald Wayne Burkle, a billionaire.

Clinton has been active in fighting AIDS in Africa. He negotiated lower prices for pharmaceutical prices for AIDS medications. Ira Magaziner administered these efforts. Their efforts have persuaded South Africa to allow proper medicines to be distributed. They have helped hospitals be built.

Clinton argues his Administration properly handled the threat of terrorism. He blames the Bush Administration for losing the focus on terrorist groups.

Bill Clinton in 2006 saw Barack Obama as a strong contender against Hillary Clinton for President in 2008. Bill Clinton urged Hillary’s advisers to attack Obama and prevent him from becoming too popular. His advice was ignored.

When Hillary announced for President in 2007, Bill campaigned for her. In part, this would demonstrate to Gore and others who had shunned his support that he was still valuable as a campaigner. Questions over their joint tax returns emerged. This damaged the campaign.


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