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My Life
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PRESIDENTIAL SERIES > 6. MY LIFE ~~ July 18th - July 24th ~~ Chapters FIFTEEN, SIXTEEN and SEVENTEEN (146- 201); No Spoilers Please

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
Hello Everyone,

This is the Week Six 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 Six - July 18th - July 24th -> Chapters FIFTEEN, SIXTEEN, and SEVENTEEN p. 146 - 201


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 Six of this discussion.

Welcome,

~Bentley


TO ALWAYS SEE ALL WEEKS' THREADS SELECT VIEW ALL

My Life by Bill Clinton

by Bill Clinton Bill Clinton


Bryan Craig Chapter 15 starts with a marriage, his mom. He came back to England pretty troubled. He got a grim letter from a friend who was in Vietnam and some of his friends like Bert Jeffries got killed in combat. Clinton hung out with David Edwards, but usually read a lot and liked to be alone. He was struggling with the draft, to be a part of it, to serve or not. However, he continued his studies, traveled to Germany and Paris, and saw some speakers like George Kennan. Clinton got his draft notice in April but he could finish his term.

In chapter 16, Clinton decided to go into law school and into ROTC (Army Reserve Officer Training School). He missed the summer's training camp, so he worked in Hot Springs. Although with a plan in place, Clinton still was unsure what to do about Vietnam. He went back to Oxford thinking he might put himself back in the draft, but Strobe Talbott urged him not to do it. He stayed with Talbott and Frank Aller, read books, organized a teach in at the London School of Economics and a Vietnam Moratorium. He did manage to hear the Texas Arkansas football game, travel to Amsterdam, Scandinavia, Russia, Prague, Munich, and Spain. He realized, especially after the Russian trip, that America was still the beacon of hope. At the end of the chapter, we find out he got accepted into Yale law school and the prospects of him being called up to serve was low as Nixon was pulling troops home from Vietnam.

In chapter 17, Clinton worked for Joe Duffey, who was running for Senate in Connecticut. We learn about his life in law school. He rented a house out on the beach and dove into his studies that included professors Robert Bork and Charles Reich. On the personal side, it was a mess, but he met Hillary Rodham. She made a big impression on him and they began to date. He followed her to California for her internship, then moved in together at Yale. His friend, Frank Aller, who left the country rather than be drafted, committed suicide. Clinton took it hard, but he stated Hillary was a big help in getting him through it. Clinton worked on the George McGovern presidential campaign at Yale. He got the local party leaders to endorse him, and ended up working on the national staff. The McGovern campaign did go well; the convention did not go well and his vice president, Thomas Eagleton, admitted he had electric shock therapy. McGovern dropped him and went with Sargent Shriver. Clinton worked in Texas for the campaign, but Nixon beat McGovern. Clinton returned to Yale to finish and got a job teaching law at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. The big issue was would Hillary follow Clinton back to Arkansas?


Bryan Craig Clinton is having a tough time reconciling his beliefs and the Vietnam war, plus his baggage with Roger's alcoholism.

I quote: "I have tried to make my external life as good as possible, and to survive the dangers and relieve the pain of my internal life. This probably explains my profound admiration for the personal courage of soldiers and others who put their lives at risk for honorable causes, and my visceral hatred of violence and abuse of power; my passion for public service and my deep sympathy for the problems of other people; the solace I have found in human companionship and the difficulty I've had in letting anyone into the deepest recesses of my internal life. It was dark down there." (p. 149)

What are your thoughts about Clinton's fight with his inner demons? For those who lived through this time, did you struggle or know anyone who struggled with the draft and the war?


message 4: by Bryan (last edited Jul 20, 2011 08:28AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bryan Craig Here is the book Clinton mentions as he struggles with the draft:

(No image)The Unfinished Odyssey of Robert Kennedy by David Halberstam David Halberstam

We can see RFK had a healthy influence on young Clinton. Clinton states RFK did not believe in deferments.


message 5: by Alisa (new) - added it

Alisa (mstaz) I found his whole struggle with the draft understandable, but you can tell he struggled with it frequently and deeply. It almost suggests that he understood the Vietnam on an intellectual level but had a very hard time supporting something that he personally beleived was wrong - in terms of America's involvement from the outset. On the one hand he supports his friend who went to Canada and supported his return, and carried a good deal of guilt when his friend committed suicide. Politically and personally he just couldn't support it, and when even he thought about walking away from his obligation, I think couldn't do it. I think he had a lot of conflicting feelings at this stage in his life, and had a hard time reconciling them all. Enlightening.


Bryan Craig Alisa wrote: "I found his whole struggle with the draft understandable, but you can tell he struggled with it frequently and deeply. It almost suggests that he understood the Vietnam on an intellectual level bu..."

Enlightening, indeed. I think it was a common struggle for many Americans: support the military, but this was a war in a different time in our history.

At this point, he seems to handle strife more internally. He ponders, reads books, while others will talk it out with family and friends. It is an interesting characteristic of Clinton. He probably didn't learn the skills to reconcile his feelings as we see with Roger's alcoholism.


Bryan Craig Here is another book Clinton read during this time:

You Can't Go Home Again by Thomas Wolfe Thomas Wolfe Thomas Wolfe

Product info:
George Webber has written a successful novel about his family and hometown. When he returns to that town he is shaken by the force of the outrage and hatred that greets him. Family and friends feel naked and exposed by the truths they have seen in his book, and their fury drives him from his home. He begins a search for his own identity that takes him to New York and a hectic social whirl; to Paris with an uninhibited group of expatriates; to Berlin, lying cold and sinister under Hitler's shadow. At last Webber returns to America and rediscovers it with love, sorrow, and hope.


Bryan Craig And once he gets to Russia:

To the Finland Station by Edmund Wilson Edmund Wilson Edmund Wilson

Product info:
Edmund Wilson's magnum opus, To the Finland Station, is a stirring account of revolutionary politics, people, and ideas from the French Revolution through the Paris Commune to the Bolshevik seizure of power in 1917. It is a work of history on a grand scale, at once sweeping and detailed, closely reasoned and passionately argued, that succeeds in painting an unforgettable picture--alive with conspirators and philosophers, utopians and nihilists--of the making of the modern world.


Bryan Craig After Spain, he was reading:

Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes


Bryan Craig I think these books above do reflect his struggle to find meaning and place in the world.


message 11: by Alisa (new) - added it

Alisa (mstaz) I guess the luxury of being a Rhodes Scholar is you get to read a lot and as much as you want. If I recall it was a habit he maintained during his presidency, although how much he had the time of course is a different story. I think he is so curious about the world around him and at this stage in life we see his reflective style as well.


Bryan Craig Yeah, I think the scholarship is built around more for self-study. You're right, I think he kept his reading habits throughout his life.


Bryan Craig I was impressed by the huge impression Hillary had on Clinton. He even steeped aside political life to move to California with her for the summer after dating for a month.


message 14: by Alisa (new) - added it

Alisa (mstaz) That was quite interesting, she seems to have captivated his attention very quickly. Given how he described the other women he dated before this it wasn't too much of a surprise - brainy and very independant. I wish he would have described that one woman a little more, the one he referred to a couple of times as having gotten very serious about their relationship but didn't tell us much why they parted ways. I amy re-read that section again, but it's hard to get much of a comparison to the other women.


Bryan Craig Good point, Alisa; yeah, I wish we got some more details on his past girlfriends. I guess, at least, he is mentioning them and we get a window into his difficulty with commitment. I would think most of his past girlfriends were smart.


Vincent (vpbrancato) | 1245 comments I feel that Clinton is getting such a full life already and he seems to have no limit on the horizons of where he will go.

His conflict about the draft was a real problem in those years and he mentions really how this “obligation” would/could have implications on his future political life which clearly is his goal.

I do wonder sometimes how he funded all these trips – flying to there or there – his additional sojourns in Europe etc.

His reading schedule makes our “50 books in 2011” a bit wimpy – even to think such a number is a challenge. I think if one makes a list of the books mentioned so far in this book one can have a retirement reading project.

The death of Frank Aller was a precursor to the death of Vince Foster (more may come in Clinton’s life before we get up to Foster) who came to work in his administration. Not to do with the story but I think suicide among young adults is a not so uncommon situation as one might think.

I also think that his courtship of Hillary was well and tastefully documented and I think that those of us who might want to know more about his emotional commitment evolution will not get certain things from this book. He seems to mention everyone who has a notable role or place in his life with full identity so to reveal that information might be to obligate someone else to discuss their time with him that I think he would not/ should not do. Also he told us in the beginning that there would be secrets.


message 17: by Alisa (new) - added it

Alisa (mstaz) Vince wrote: "I feel that Clinton is getting such a full life already and he seems to have no limit on the horizons of where he will go.

His conflict about the draft was a real problem in those years and he men..."


Vince, you raise an interesting issue with regard to his personal relationships in your observatin about his courtship of Hillary. I had not considered that but an apt reflection on your part. You are right, so much of what he talks about in these early chapters is about everyone around him and outward looking. A few glimpses of introspection but when it comes to his personal relationships there is a certain amount that has to be deduced from his discussion.


Bryan Craig Yeah, he seems to draw a line in his book. I do think, in some ways, he is introspective and has secrets and personal information that he did not include in his book. There are some autobiographies that are "kiss and tell" and this is not one of them. He is playing it pretty safe, trying not to upset too many people.


message 19: by Bob (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bob | 5 comments Vince wrote: "His reading schedule. . ."

I read somewhere that Clinton read a book a day while he was in the White House. Seems hard to believe that any president could do so. I have heard the same claim made about Teddy Roosevelt and JFK so maybe these men rally aren't like the "rest of us."



Vincent (vpbrancato) | 1245 comments Bob wrote: "Vince wrote: "His reading schedule. . ."

I read somewhere that Clinton read a book a day while he was in the White House. Seems hard to believe that any president could do so. I have heard the s..."


I'll second that thought!


Bryan Craig I think the only time I can think of that a president has consistent alone time to read is at night before bed.


message 22: by Alisa (new) - added it

Alisa (mstaz) I wonder if he reads as much now? And what he reads?


Bryan Craig I think about the same thing, Alisa. I do believe he still runs a crazy schedule, but you figure he is a life long reader (like us), so I do wonder...


Vincent (vpbrancato) | 1245 comments Bryan wrote: "I think the only time I can think of that a president has consistent alone time to read is at night before bed."

I think, from what I think I know, this was not true for George W. Bush


Bryan Craig Vince, from what I have read, GWB is a pretty big reader, believe it or not, likes history and biography. I don't know if he read on a regular schedule though.


message 26: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
I do remember that he used to have contests with Karl Rove on who could read more in a single year.


Bryan Craig Bentley wrote: "I do remember that he used to have contests with Karl Rove on who could read more in a single year."

Good memory, Bentley, I remember that!


Laura (apenandzen) Bryan wrote: "Clinton is having a tough time reconciling his beliefs and the Vietnam war, plus his baggage with Roger's alcoholism.

I quote: "I have tried to make my external life as good as possible, and to..."


I was surprised at how much he seemed to go back and forth - but considering his age, I suppose it makes sense. Looking at my future president though, and an issue such as military service, I'd have been happier to see him pick a side and just stay with it, for better or worse.


message 29: by Laura (last edited Aug 11, 2011 09:01AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Laura (apenandzen) I thought it was interesting that he mentioned in Chapter 15:

"As President...often I slept less just to get the alone time."

Boy, when you get used to having time to yourself, you really do begin to crave it. He really does have two well-developed opposite sides - the vivacious, outgoing one and the introspective, deep thinker.


Laura (apenandzen) I also thought his friend Rick Stearns' idea of national service was interesting. Men are required to register with Selective Service, but perhaps women should be required to do community service, or to choose military service?

In our local school system, kids are required to do community service in order to graduate, but I'm pretty sure that's not required nationally at this point.


Bryan Craig Yeah, I don't think national service is mandatory, but Clinton and Kennedy (JFK and Ted) among others really pushed for a national program.


Bryan Craig Laura wrote: "I was surprised at how much he seemed to go back and forth - but considering his age, I suppose it makes sense. Looking at my future president though, and an issue such as military service, I'd have been happier to see him pick a side and just stay with it, for better or worse."

Interesting, I guess it shows how difficult it was for Clinton because he couldn't decide and stick with it.


Vincent (vpbrancato) | 1245 comments Bryan wrote: "Bentley wrote: "I do remember that he used to have contests with Karl Rove on who could read more in a single year."

Good memory, Bentley, I remember that!"


Thanks Bryan & Bentley for the correction.


Vincent (vpbrancato) | 1245 comments Bryan wrote: "Laura wrote: "I was surprised at how much he seemed to go back and forth - but considering his age, I suppose it makes sense. Looking at my future president though, and an issue such as military se..."

It was a long time and one did see the soldiers, doing the bidding of the country and see a need to support the country - and then too the need to do what was right. I also think that Clinton was so young so political that he saw the implications of his stance in future campaigns very early on.

National service is also an interesting and changing area. Before modern weapons and warfare the country willing to conscript could mount large forces and win battles and wars - even WWII would have been difficult for the US to have fought without the draft I am pretty sure.
I think the concept of national service was fostered as a substitute for those who did were conscienous objectors. This of course was, at the time, pretty much limited to men.

But I am open to comments


message 35: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
I am not sure that eliminating the draft was a great thing. Most young men found themselves with new opportunities and training, education that they were afforded with enlistment as well as structure, pride and discipline.

You have to wonder with young people having no purpose except to loiter and hang out what the future holds for the undisciplined and the uneducated when those with education cannot find employment.

Of course, going to wars around the world would not be what I have in mine either. But there are so many ways national service and community work would also work to their benefit and the country's.

Fighting WWII would have been nearly impossible without the draft; you are correct Vince in my opinion.


message 36: by Laura (last edited Aug 13, 2011 09:42AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Laura (apenandzen) It just seems wrong to me that men are required to register for Selective Service, but women are not required to register for any type of service. If we want equal rights, and we do, then we should be subject to equal contributions.

I realize that community service isn't the same as serving the nation in a war, but I do think that it makes sense to require our people do it. Perhaps men not called because there is no "national emergency" requiring it (and/or due to the fact that enough people have volunteered to go) would also be required to perform some type of community service.

I see this as benefiting society AND the volunteers, as helping others really does help oneself. However, many would not do it unless it was a requirement.


message 37: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
You know Laura; I agree. There are many contributions that women can make and men too. It would be good for all.

I have never seen why it is not a requirement as a society never mind the draft. There is so much to do and so much to learn for all involved.


Bryan Craig Thanks for the comments, all. I never saw national service = draft before in respect to Clinton's future legislation to do something for the country. It makes some sense with the draft gone, it is good to find other opportunities.


message 39: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
Yes, and with the economy being the way it is; it is one way to rebuild the infrastructure and get a work force able and energetic to do it; while at the same time getting some valuable experience and expertise to apply later in the job market.


Laura (apenandzen) Great point Bentley.


Bryan Craig I sense it is kind of domestic version of the Peace Corp: you get a good experience and good skills.


Vincent (vpbrancato) | 1245 comments Laura wrote: "It just seems wrong to me that men are required to register for Selective Service, but women are not required to register for any type of service. If we want equal rights, and we do, then we shoul..."

I would like to make a couple of comments on your remarks.

Following thru with the "need" for conscription in WWII, thanks Bentley for agreeing, also think of the less mechanized, non-computerized, wars up to and including even most of Vietnam and I think that drafting women, at least for the combat roles, was less possible than today and without having the ability to have all or most of the military able to be asked to take up a rifle might have been non reasonable.

That being said the military, really life risking, is hard to be able to pay people enough for and I do think that national service, in some format for all, would give us all more in common and, as mentioned, give all some "job/work" experience as they begin adulthood.

I could think of many areas that are able to use less skilled labor in health care, conservation, etc. that could give the country help it need and some training and real experience to the youth of this and most countries.


message 43: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
Excellent comments Vince.


Laura (apenandzen) Agreed. Now that we're in agreement, I'll draft the resolution and we'll send it through right away.

(If only fixing the brokenness were so easy.)


message 45: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
It does seem that it should be but the people get drawn into the politics too and that is why we have the drama.


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