Readers respond to "The Clinton Wars," by Sidney Blumenthal, and "Democrats Square Off," by Jake Tapper.

Published May 7, 2003 6:55PM (EDT)

[Read "The Clinton Wars."]

I think Blumenthal's account is probably embellished by the amber light of nostalgia and subjectivity. But it is refreshing to see an account of the Clinton presidency that doesn't shriek the one-note melody of puritanical hysteria. I don't understand why it's not common knowledge that the people who were doing the shrieking were only doing so out of political expediency, not out of any actual belief in those morals (witness the corrupt inner lives of Hyde, Gingrich, et al.).

I hope that when the dust clears in a few years we can remember Clinton the way Blumenthal does, and not the way the Rutherford types would prefer. Thank you for running this. I am thinking of buying this book.

-- Sally Adee

The strategy it used to destroy Clinton's presidency is the same one the Republican machine used to get the U.S. into Iraq: "dubious accusations of criminality as justification" and "[fostering] enough hysteria and momentum." We, the populace, have been jerked along from one hysterical pronouncement to the next, lapping it up, buying into the right-wing sleight of hand and deception, until we have squandered every bit of good will, hope and optimism we, as a nation, ever had. Hillary was correct when she referred to it as a "vast right-wing conspiracy."

-- Kay Hansen

I have just finished the first chapter of the Gospel according to Sidney Blumenthal. This panegyric screed is one of the most incredible things I have ever read. Bill Clinton is wise, temperate and patient -- not to be confused with mere mortals. He is brilliant but would never use his intelligence to appear superior. He apparently has only two flaws. One is his chronic tardiness, explained away by his curiosity about his surroundings and the fact that he was "usually figuring something out." The other is that he is so doggone compassionate it got him into trouble. Caring too much about helping people, he gave Monica Lewinsky an opportunity to hurt him. Going right past the usual "she was asking for it" excuse, Clinton insists that she was demanding sex from him, threatening him with ruin if he didn't comply. After his "affair-lite" with Monica he didn't lie when he told the American people that he didn't have sexual relations or an improper relationship with Ms. Lewinsky; he "protected his wife, his daughter and his own privacy."

Thanks for clearing up his pristine thoughts, actions and statements for us, Sid. I eagerly look forward to the future installments, where Clinton walks across the Potomac and raises people from the dead.

-- Stephen J. Smith

Can anyone explain how Kenneth Starr is still alive, working and thriving? Sidney Blumenthal shows Starr's illegal and immoral vendetta against the standing president of the United States, and yet nothing of any recourse has fallen upon Mr. Starr. How can this repetition of wrongful accusers who get off scot-free continue unabated throughout history? I continue to be appalled by accounts like Sidney Blumenthal's, and the lack of recourse against men like Ken Starr.

-- Stephen Mintz

Bill Clinton as a victim? The Jesus of Little Rock? Blumenthal lays the Clinton worship on a bit thick. Clinton's spin machine was peerless in attacking his female accusers so well, in keeping him in office for eight years. I'd have admired Clinton more if he'd said that he'd inhaled and enjoyed it and that he enjoyed his dalliances. He's a polygamist by nature, and his greatest talent is to be above the sexual-equality rules and laws that he and his wife presume to support.

-- Ed Cunion

[Read "Democrats Square Off."]

I completely disagree that Joe Lieberman was the star of the debate. I'm praying he won't be the nominee; he comes across as a little kid trying to pipe up and claim he's just as tough as the schoolyard bully. He could never beat Bush. He just has no presence whatsoever.

I'm a white, 50-year-old female. The candidate I found most impressive was Carol Moseley Braun. She was effective and articulate, courteous but impassioned. She appears to have the ability to handle challenges with a calm cheerfulness I found very impressive. We're told she has no chance. But neither does Lieberman. If I can't have Al (painful sigh), I think I'd rather throw my heart behind a long shot who comes across as a real leader able to take punches with grace, rather than behind a whiney-voiced loser like Lieberman. If Lieberman gets the nomination, we are doomed.

-- Amanda Jay

Former Governor Howard Dean is the only one of these candidates who makes any sense and who dares to speak the truth: China's economic growth is increasing at a rate of 12 percent a year, and the U.S. economy will be lucky to grow 2 percent this year. By mid-century, China will be the world's superpower whether Americans like it or not (as we've now entered our imperialist phase, history dictates that our supremacy will soon begin its slow decline). It follows that with great economic power comes great military force -- let's hope China is more sensible and responsible with its power than "George of the Jungle" has been with his. Let's also hope the Democrats put forward a candidate that gives the people a real choice, and not some hollow politician desperate to straddle the middle ground.

-- Sean O'Neil

I saw the Democratic presidential debate, and read Jake Tapper's coverage of it. On many points we are in agreement. However, his statement that Joe Lieberman stood out was bizarre. He may have stood out as the most conservative of the Democrats, but he certainly did not have the vitality or the presence of Carol Moseley Braun or John Edwards.

-- Kevin Block-Schwenk

Please, God, not Lieberman. I'm a dyed-in-the-wool liberal, and the man frightens me with his censorious leanings. Despite what some would have us believe, it is possible to be a Democrat and a strict constitutionalist. Lieberman is not the answer to Bush. He's just another color from the neoconservative spectrum.

-- Trish Smith

Mr. Tapper, for all of his "liberal" credentials, falls into his usual trap when covering Democratic presidential hopefuls. Intent on not sounding too biased and disappointed that no one is "liberal" enough for him, Tapper's coverage (like his lackluster "both parties were to blame" coverage of the 2000 Florida fiasco) seems distant and uninvolved. We liberals may do well to remember how the Republicans handled the challenger role in the 2000 election. Sure, Nazis and neo-fascists Gary Bauer and Alan Keyes were allowed to participate and often outperformed the front runners, Bush and McCain. But did anyone ever really think that they were going to get the nomination? Same holds true with two-thirds of the candidates presented tonight.

This race will come down to Kerry, Dean and Edwards, and everyone knows it. Moral politics aside, what else can Lieberman offer the Democratic Party? He started out the 2000 campaign all fire and brimstone as well, but by the time this attitude was actually needed (the vice presidential debate) he seemed content to agree and defer all night long. Dems need someone who's going to fight for our differences, not point out our agreements (which plays right into the hands of Nader's "no difference between the parties" rhetoric).

Lieberman may have been a "bright spot" in the debate, but I wouldn't know -- I turned the channel whenever he started speaking.

-- Jonathan Taylor

By Salon Staff

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