by Sukey HowardJune, 1999
The personal and the political
George Stephanopoulos was a true believer. He was awed by Clinton and his immense potential, saw his flaws, and gratefully overlooked them. But, by the end of two presidential campaigns and four years in the White House, he came to see the object of his devotion as a true deceiver, and therein lies the tale. Listening to George Stephanopoulos read his best-selling confessional-chronicle All Too Human (3 hrs), you have to wonder whether the title refers to Clinton, to the teller of the tale, or to both. Stephanopoulos wants to be candid; he allows early on that he too was a natural at the game of politics, that he too was carried along by his raw ambition, and that he saw Clinton as his ticket to the top. It took him much longer to see politics as a blood sport that can sully the soul.
Stephanopoulos peppers this saga of trials and tribulations at the apex of power with insider close-ups of Hillary, James Carville, and Dick Morris, among others; includes reports of conversations, confrontations, his own wild highs and devastating lows; and ends with an epilogue on more recent events, revealing again his own all-too-human take on this all-too-human President. Moving right along, we go from inside the White House to inside the media probing the White House.
When Stephanopoulos was trying to keep the Paula Jones allegations from rising above the category of trash for cash, he came up against Michael Isikoff, then a reporter at the Washington Post. The indefatigable Isikoff, who moved on to Newsweek, was hell-bent on getting the Jones story and everything else he could on Clinton's sexual misconduct. He got more about Jones and Lewinsky (and maybe a few in between) than about anybody else, but he also got involved with sources who had big-time political agendas. Uncovering Clinton (4hrs), read by the author, is Isikoff's first-hand account of who did what to whom, who knew what when, and more intriguingly what happens when a reporter becomes part of the story he's reporting on, a player influencing the other players. Isikoff spent years tracking Clinton's indiscretions, but maintains that the story is not now and never has been about sex, that it's only about telling the public what really happened, fairly and accurately. Maybe so, maybe no. Listen and make your own informed decisions.
Sukey Howard reports on spoken word audio each month.