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My Life
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PRESIDENTIAL SERIES > 4. MY LIFE ~~ July 4 ~ July 10th ~~ Chapters NINE, TEN and ELEVEN (69- 106); No Spoilers Please

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message 1: by Bryan (last edited Jul 18, 2011 10:25AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bryan Craig Hello Everyone,

This is the Week Four thread for the next Presidential Series selection (My Life).

For those of you still acquiring the book, be advised that some folks have run into the problem of the book being now divided into two volumes. We will be reading and discussing the entire work so you will need to get both volumes (Volume I and Volume II). For those of you like myself who have the original hardcopy, that will not be necessary because the hardcopy was just one big book.

The week's reading assignment is:

Week Four - July 4th - July 10th -> Chapters NINE, TEN, and ELEVEN p. 69 - 106


We will open up a thread for each week's reading. Please make sure to post in the particular thread dedicated to those specific chapters and page numbers to avoid spoilers. We will also open up supplemental threads as we did for other spotlighted books.

This book was kicked off on June 13th. We look forward to your participation. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders and other noted on line booksellers do have copies of the book and shipment can be expedited. The book can also be obtained easily at your local library, or on your Kindle.

Since we just started this book on June 13th, there is still time remaining to obtain the book or both volumes and get started.

There is no rush and we are thrilled to have you join us. It is never too late to begin reading this selection and/or to post.

Bryan Craig will be your moderator for this selection as he is our lead for all Presidential selections. We hope you enjoy Week Four of this discussion.

Welcome,

~Bryan

TO ALWAYS SEE ALL WEEKS' THREADS SELECT VIEW ALL

My Life by Bill Clinton Bill Clinton Bill Clinton


message 2: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Thanks Bryan for opening this up.


Bryan Craig Bentley wrote: "Thanks Bryan for opening this up."

You are welcome; it pays to plan a little ahead.


Bryan Craig What does it say about Clinton that he was able to work with more conservative faculty and room-mate, Tom Campbell, especially in an election year?


message 5: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jul 05, 2011 09:43AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Bryan wrote: "Bentley wrote: "Thanks Bryan for opening this up."

You are welcome; it pays to plan a little ahead."



For you or for me (smile). I actually think Clinton's nature is that he loves a good debate and who better to have a lively discussion with from his viewpoint but a conservative who he personally liked. Also, when you open up yourself to other ideas and perspectives you do that much more and in different ways to garner votes from all sides of the argument. A smart move from a smart man.


message 6: by Alisa (new) - added it

Alisa (mstaz) I agree, and also think we are seeing his intellectual curiosity really blossom in his early college years. He seemed engaged in his high school advanced courses - calculus, who enjoys that? - and remember his story about how he solved an equation but the teacher downgraded him for 'missing' a few steps even though he had the right answer and the fellow student defended him and the teacher changed his grade. Then off to Georgetown for the Foreign Service education. He was probably surprised at getting a roommate on the other end of the political spectrum but he didn't seem troubled by it.


message 7: by Bryan (last edited Jul 05, 2011 11:58AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bryan Craig Yeah, I'm impressed by his openness. I think it is a hallmark of his tolerance and intellectual curiosity. I think you make a mistake in stereotyping Clinton because he was born in a small town in Arkansas.


message 8: by Alisa (new) - added it

Alisa (mstaz) I also think he saw that the closed mindedness of others in Arkansas didn't serve those folks well, and he knew that he wanted something more.


Bryan Craig Alisa wrote: "I also think he saw that the closed mindedness of others in Arkansas didn't serve those folks well, and he knew that he wanted something more."

Good point, Alisa. On a higher level, he keeps coming back to the "Old South" vs. "New South," and I think it is on that same observation you mentioned. The old ways just doesn't work any longer; it is not the right course.


Bryan Craig Clinton is now at Georgetown with a rigorous study schedule, a dress code, and a pretty conservative faculty. However, he got along with most people including his conservative room-mate, Tom Campbell, and frequently visited the local hang-outs like Hoya Carry Out, Tombs, and listened to music acts like the Mugwamps and Judy Collins. Clinton won the race for president of the freshman class. He enjoyed a Development of Civilization class taught by Professor Carroll Quigley. Quigley taught Clinton that state instruments built to achieve their objectives got institutionalized. Also, it was everyone's obligation to make the future better.

He returned to Arkansas for the summer where he worked at a camp for poorer kids. During his stay, Roger, Jr. called for help one day when his father was drunk and attacking Virginia with scissors. Clinton consoled Roger, Jr. that he did the right thing in calling for help.

In chapter 10, Clinton worked on Frank Holt's campaign for governor of Arkansas. He spoke at rallies and drove the Holt family around the state. He observed that the Old South was still around, segregation still held strong, but a newer breed of Southerners were looking for a change. Holt was running against Jim Johnson. Johnson had the Klu Klux Klan support and he liked to use the "us vs. them" campaign tactic. Holt ultimately lost in a run-off against Johnson, but it would not be the last time Clinton heard from Johnson, as he dogged him through the 1992 presidential election. Holt helped Clinton get an assistant clerk position with Senator Fulbright's Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

In chapter 11, Clinton settles into his job with the Foreign Relations Committee. He clipped newspaper articles to be routed to committee staff and handled requests for documents and speeches. He saw firsthand how the political landscape was changing from progressive Democrats to Conservative Republicans. Liberal Republicans were becoming extinct. Senator Fulbright was pulling away from President Johnson over Vietnam. Fulbright realized the U.S. could not fight against an abstract idea, we should negotiate first and use the military as a last option. He supported self-determination for South Vietnam, withdrawing our troops, and working to make the country unified. Johnson and Secretary of State Dean Rusk believed Vietnam was a place that Communism should not win. At first, Clinton did not know a lot about the Vietnam War, but became better educated through his work with the Committee. He came to the conclusion that Congress and the American people were being misled. On a personal note, Roger's cancer was back in the spring of 1967 and Clinton went to North Carolina to see his step-father during treatment. Because of honest talks, the two were closer.


message 11: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jul 05, 2011 01:38PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
I have to laugh at one of his comments that he was used to being bossed around by strong women (smile). Of course, he was talking about growing up with a houseful of women and probably his mother too and using it to discuss his job on the campaign for Holt and others.


Bryan Craig Bentley wrote: "I have to laugh at one of his comments that he was used to being bossed around by strong women (smile). Of course, he was talking about growing up with a houseful of women and probably his mother..."

That was funny. I think in a certain way, his mother was a role model.


message 13: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
For sure and then he married a strong woman too.


Bryan Craig Bentley wrote: "For sure and then he married a strong woman too."

Indeed he did. I'm looking forward to her introduction into his story.


Bryan Craig Bentley brought up a great section in chapter 10: the Holt campaign. I really enjoyed this part. How did you think this shaped him as a politician?


message 16: by Bryan (last edited Jul 06, 2011 08:24AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bryan Craig FYI-I posted a biography on Winthrop Rockefeller and Jim Johnson:
http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/5...


message 17: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
That story about Winthrop on the stump and not knowing where he was is amazing. Very funny too. As far as the Holt campaign, that is where he cut his teeth.


message 18: by Bryan (last edited Jul 06, 2011 08:33AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bryan Craig Hilarious. Rockefeller is such an interesting character; I'm glad Arkansas accepted him. He really didn't seem to fit the family mold and he found Arkansas where he could be productive.

Yeah, Clinton says he learned to talk and listen in this campaign. Some politicians start out reaching for pretty high stakes like Congress or state-wide (I think you have to have a big name to do this), but Clinton seemed to have learned from the bottom.


message 19: by Alisa (new) - added it

Alisa (mstaz) I loved the section about the Holt campaign, and his description of retail political campaigning. It is clear he instantly gravitated to this style of campaign. Certainly there is an argument to be made that it suits his interpersonal style anyway so he would be destined to adopt this as his own campaign style, and we see some evidence of that in his class leadership campaigns. Ultimately I think the Holt campaign gave him a strong taste for politics on the road and the impression hardwired him for this sort of thing in the future.


Bryan Craig I agree, Alisa; it seemed to have a deep impact on him. He learned some "old fashioned" campaigning which is a good thing. I think it was a great life and professional lesson.


message 21: by Bob (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bob | 5 comments Hi all, I am new to the group and just got caught up with the reading. Two things struck me as somewhat odd in the chapters for this week.

First, at the risk of sounding somewhat "gossipy", Clinton was known as something of a "ladies man" at least later in his life. I find it odd that he mentions only in passing his relationships with girls/women in high school and college. With his persuasive style and ability to easily make friends, it seems unlikely that he would not have dated regularly. Maybe he did not consider these relationships important or their "lessons" were not something he drew upon in later life. Not really an important issue but seems conspicuous in its absence.

Second, I was quite surprised in the shift in tone of Chapter 11. To that point in the book, Clinton is completely in "I" mode. He introduces us to the many people in his life and their impact on his life. Chapter 11 reads more like a congressional roll call with very little about Clinton. He does a good job of setting the stage by introducing us to the key players in Congress but there is much less personal analysis than we have seen in the earlier chapters.


Bryan Craig Great points, Bob. He mentions some girlfriends but I wonder if there are more than he is telling us. He does seem to say he is not ready for marriage at this point.

I think he gives these political reports in each chapter to give us background, but you are right, the reports don't dominate the chapter very often. It will be interesting to see how this goes as we move along.


Vincent (vpbrancato) | 1245 comments I found all the comments interesting but would make the following remarks on these chapters.

I have mentioned often that he only says positive things about people and on page 69 he says his mother “taught him to look for the best in people” - sets a perspective for his upbringing.

He also notes in this chapter (9) that he becomes a Democrat early on. So he has oriented himself in a way I did not, and certainly many others I think did not yet do, if ever do, at this young age.

That he got on so well with the diverse orientations and personalities at Georgetown was probably an indication of his ability to be a unifying force.

And for a nice medium income kid from Arkansas you would be hard put (I know I am a New Yorker) to find a less exclusive or less expensive introduction to New York than the Pierre Hotel, the Carlyle or the 21 Club. Just a note for those who may not know. These hotels today I think start at over $400 a night for rooms.

His exposure to such highly placed people as Luci Johnson is just an indication I think of how that Georgetown education postured him for the future he would pursue.

On page 80 I notice that his “Community Service” came during college. A pity, in my mind, our current president did not do that then too and gain more critical life and political experience in his post collegiate days before going on to the presidency.

His informing a black woman, page 86, that the poll tax was over brings home to me the reality that this still existed in the American south into my young adulthood.

I also note that this book is not only a biography – it is a current political commentary – on page 87 that then, unlike today, politicians could “not hide behind some bogus committee”

Chapter 11 is more a series of biographical notes on many prominent senators of the time. For me who know who most all of them are/were very interesting and informative. Most especially it is a short biography of Fulbright – a man I am even more aware of as a Sri Lankan friend of mine benefited from one of the scholarships named for him. – And now I must put Arrogance of Power on my growing growing list of future reading.

Arrogance of Power by J. William Fulbright J. William Fulbright J. William Fulbright


He also in this chapter finds someone to say nothing good about – Governor Atkins – a first I think and closely coupled with a reference to Joe McCarthy.

In these chapters we see a young Arkansas man intellectually and philosophically filling out if we wish. Makes me wish I had been more industrious and forward looking.

I think that all the previous comments are positive and I hope that I just presented new strands of thought.


Bryan Craig And you did Vince, thank you. I liked your comment about being so politically aware at a young age. I agree, I think few kids are. I must admit that I dreamed of a political future in 8th grade, wrote out my name with (D-OH) after it, lol. I decided to take a different route as I got older, which does say something about his optimism.

Thanks for the info on NYC. I don't know if he felt he fitted in big cities so well. London was better, I think.


Laura (apenandzen) Bryan wrote: "What does it say about Clinton that he was able to work with more conservative faculty and room-mate, Tom Campbell, especially in an election year?"

A sign of things to come, you can't get anything done politically without being willing to work with the other side.


Laura (apenandzen) Alisa wrote: "I agree, and also think we are seeing his intellectual curiosity really blossom in his early college years. He seemed engaged in his high school advanced courses - calculus, who enjoys that? - and..."

I was so impressed by this. Also interesting that the problem his classmate defended shored up in him a reason not to go any further with mathematics. That might have made me make the opposite choice, I thought that was pretty keen of him!


Laura (apenandzen) Bentley wrote: "For sure and then he married a strong woman too."

And if he weren't already used to being bossed around by women...hehe. I think sometimes men pick their mothers and women pick their fathers when spouse hunting. In terms of choosing a strong woman, looks like Clinton did as well.


message 28: by Laura (last edited Jul 24, 2011 10:36AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Laura (apenandzen) I just wanted to quote a few lines I found interesting. From early in Chapter 10, p.84:

Psychologically, we're all a complex mixture of hopes and fears. Each day we wake up with the scales tipping a bit one way or the other. If they go too far toward hopefulness, we can become naive and unrealistic. If the scales tilt too far the other way, we can get consumed by paranoia and hatred. In the South, the dark side of the scales has always been the bigger problem.

I thought that quote was very telling, and interesting how it still applies today - not necessarily the part about the South, but how some like to stir up hatred to bolster their own political agenda.

And more from that same line of thinking on p. 87:

The perennial political divide, Us versus Them. It was mean, ugly, and ultimately self-defeating for the people who bought it, but as we still see, when people feel discontented and insecure it often works.

Boy does it work, and we see that still.


message 29: by Laura (last edited Jul 24, 2011 10:40AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Laura (apenandzen) These few are all from Chapter Eleven, beginning on p. 103 - the first two about the Vietnam War:

When there is no understanding, respect, or trust, any compromise, much less an admission of error, is seen as weakness and disloyalty, a sure recipe for defeat.

and further down, same page:

But hardheadedness has its own perils. In politics, when you find yourself in a hole, the first rule is to quit digging; if you're blind to the possibility of error or determined not to admit it, you just look for a bigger shovel.


Laura (apenandzen) And from the end of Chapter Eleven, p. 105, a poignant comment re: Roger Clinton's life:

If he could only have faced life with the same courage and sense of humor with which he faced death, he would have been quite a guy.


message 31: by Alisa (new) - added it

Alisa (mstaz) Laura wrote: "These few are all from Chapter Eleven, beginning on p. 103 - the first two about the Vietnam War:

When there is no understanding, respect, or trust, any compromise, much less an admission of error..."


I liked that last quote. You have to admit the guy is an astute politician. Whether you agree with his principles or not, he knows the art and science of the rules and how to play the game.


Laura (apenandzen) Alisa wrote: "Laura wrote: "These few are all from Chapter Eleven, beginning on p. 103 - the first two about the Vietnam War:

When there is no understanding, respect, or trust, any compromise, much less an ad..."


Absolutely Alisa.


Bryan Craig It is telling, too.


Bryan Craig Laura wrote: "These few are all from Chapter Eleven, beginning on p. 103 - the first two about the Vietnam War:

When there is no understanding, respect, or trust, any compromise, much less an admission of error..."


I like this quote, it reminded me of today, although it creeps up throughout history.


Laura (apenandzen) Thanks Bryan, I think that's why I liked it. Clinton in 2012?


Bryan Craig Laura wrote: "Thanks Bryan, I think that's why I liked it. Clinton in 2012?"

Lol, maybe 2016 since Obama is running for re-election ;-)


message 37: by Laura (last edited Jul 25, 2011 09:10AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Laura (apenandzen) Lol, to be sure, but I often wonder how Clinton would be handling our current mess - if it would be any better. Obama certainly has his hands full.


Vincent (vpbrancato) | 1245 comments Laura wrote: "Lol, to be sure, but I often wonder how Clinton would be handling our current mess - if it would be any better. Obama certainly has his hands full."

In 2016 Hillary may be too old - I think that we would not be in the current mess if Clinton had been elected.


message 39: by Laura (last edited Jul 25, 2011 11:07AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Laura (apenandzen) I'm actually thinking of Bill, but you make an interesting point too Vince. Of course Bill didn't walk into the mess Obama did, but I wonder how he'd be faring in this.

I wonder if he would have a chance for re-election, considering the scandal? I think he could make a go of it.


Bryan Craig All fair questions, but we probably should hold this particular discussion on another thread. We don't want to get too far off base from the book.


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