The Condensed Bill and Hillary
Slate reads For Love of Politics so you don't have to.
Sally Bedell Smith's Grace and Power, a tell-all biography of John and Jackie Kennedy's private life, was one of the hottest books of 2004. Her new book on Bill and Hillary Clinton is a disappointing follow-up. There are no jaw-dropping revelations in For Love of Politics, and those well-versed in Clinton gossip may recognize quite a few anecdotes from George Stephanopoulos' All Too Human or Dick Morris' Behind the Oval Office. But fear not— Slate's reading guide will save you the effort and take you straight to the good parts.
Bill's Wandering Eye
Page 224: A source told Smith that, at a 1993 Clinton fund-raiser in New York, Hillary didn't want actress Sharon Stone sitting next to her husband. Bill's senior staff designated another woman for the seat, "but Bill arranged to have Stone take her place."
Page 225: Laura Tyson, one-time director of the National Economic Council, told Smith that then-Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Çiller caused a stir when she came to the White House back in April 1995. Çiller was "a huge flirt" who "would hang onto a man's every word." Bill went a bit gaga, telling his advisers: "Clearly if she asks for something, we are going to have to give it to her." The unnamed advisers then "chimed in their own versions of how they would 'give it to her.' "
Page 262: At a farewell party for Laura Tyson, who was stepping down as director of the National Economic Council, Bill made a casual pass. Tyson shared the following snippet of conversation with Smith:
"Laura, you're the kind of girl back when I was in college I would have tried to get drunk."
"In college, I might have let you."
How Hillary Dealt With Bill's Wandering Eye
Page 136: When the American Spectator reported that Arkansas state troopers had helped Bill hook up on the sly, Hillary formulated the defense strategy. Former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers told Smith that Hillary would "go after specific things about the story—dates and times. Attack the motives and the details."
Page 226: Smith alleges that Evelyn Lieberman, one-time deputy chief of staff, "functioned as 'the enforcer' of West Wing decorum." According to another former press secretary, Mike McCurry, Lieberman "would send interns home if their skirts were too short." Alas, it seems that one intern escaped her attention.
Juliet Lapidos is a former Slate associate editor.