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Lunch » Tags » Book » Reviews » No One Left to Lie To: The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton » User review

A Meaty Expose On The Content Of One Man's Character

  • May 23, 2013
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Rating:
+4
One of the problems with general snarkyness (or is that snarkiness?) is that, when it is written, it’s sometimes difficult to interpret.  I’m sure all of us have encountered such an experience on the web when we wrote something that was intended to be a bit of a joke; someone read it and misinterpreted it poorly; and we’re left trying to explain ourselves, which usually boils down to a quick aside like, “dude, I was j-o-k-i-n-g.”  Having to point out that you made a joke essentially ruins the joke.  Tempers are flared, disappointments are shared all around, and meaningful dialogue is once more squashed, albeit accidentally this time.
 
I’ve no doubt that Christopher Hitchens’s style is an acquired taste.  I had the chance to hear him speak a handful of times when he was still alive (on television), and I was always thought he sounded educated and eloquent … but I have to also admit that I was never all that certain about which side of the fence he was on.  Biting, insightful satire (and even really good sarcasm) can have the unfortunate effect of distorting one’s message by making the audience think more about the elements of the analogy instead of the actual analogy itself.  Does this mean the speaker is flawed, or does it imply that the audience is flawed?  Meh.  Methinks it’s always somewhere in the middle.
 
NO ONE LEFT TO LIE TO is a pretty scathing indictment of everyone’s favorite Southern ‘gentleman’ (not!) – William Jefferson Blythe Clinton – the man Conservatives love to hate and the President Progressives rush to defend.  Thankfully, Hitchens peels back all of the veneer of that era to show just how devilishly flawed (or calculating) Clinton was, and he does so as a skilled lawyer would in a court of law: he raises the question in his opening argument, he presents his evidence, and he postulates his conclusion based almost entirely on those factors.
 
Now, I say “almost entirely” because there’s one significant element of the book that confused me greatly: about halfway through the book, Hitchens goes to great lengths to debunk the sentiments of a man’s character entering public discussion during Presidential debates.  The way I read it, Hitchens thinks any review of character is flawed because there’s no possible way voters can know a man’s character as a result of speeches, political dialogues, and advertisements; on that point, I’d strongly agree, because the business of campaigns is to get votes, not to uncover identity but to cleverly ‘craft’ one.
 
However, then Hitchens uses the rest of the book essentially to depose Clinton – to prove that he’s a man of deeply flawed character – and I have to wonder: if this information (all of it) had come to light by an honest, deliberative press during the campaign, then wouldn’t it have been a legitimate examination of Clinton’s character?  Clearly, if you’re going to use this information to establish the principle that the man is a committed and accomplished liar, then it could’ve just as convincingly been used to establish he’s a man unfit to hold the highest elected office in the land, no?
 
I can only hope that Hitchens would agree.  He probably would … and then he’d throw out some layered riposte about me not understanding his point, his book, and my role in the universe.  Such is life.
 
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  While Hitchens’s prose will not be for everyone, it’s certainly worth review.  NO ONE LEFT TO LIE TO carefully dissects Clinton’s actions – some of which are even starker viewed through the passage of time – to underscore that the man was entirely willing to mislead our entire nation all at the expense of giving people something other to think about than his personal transgressions.  Hopefully, history will get it right when they write the record on the man from Hope.

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More No One Left to Lie To: The Tri... reviews
review by . September 29, 2003
Chris Hitchens is not only a brilliant writer he is an incredibly honest one. You might disagree with his premise (The Missionary Position) or you might think he doesn't have enough evidence to support his final conclusion (The Trial of Henry Kissinger) but no honest reader can state that he does not come to these conclusions honestly and based on facts and his conclusions from them.This book was his first step away from the left but as he would say in it, the left stepped away from its principles …
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What? You don't know enough about me from the picture? Get a clue! I'm a graduate from the School of Hard Knocks! You can find me around the web as "Trekscribbler" or "Manchops".   … more
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Wiki

The most vocal critics of Bill Clinton's presidency tend to be conservatives--think, for example, of William J. Bennett'sThe Death of Outrage--but there are those on the Left who are fed up with Clinton as well. Among them is journalist Christopher Hitchens (most prominently associated withThe NationandVanity Fair), who has produced a slim but vehement volume outlining how "Clinton's private vileness meshes exactly with his brutal and opportunistic public style."No One Left to Lie Tois the story of a man who took the Democratic presidential nomination and, having achieved office, began enacting welfare reform and anticrime legislation that surpassed the ambitions of all but the most ideologically loyal Republicans--and routinely plundered the GOP platform for other policy ideas as well.

Hitchens is particularly damning on Clinton's tendency to resort to divisive racial politics when it suits his purposes, as when, in the course of the 1992 presidential campaign, he refused to lift a finger to save a mentally retarded African American from state execution so he could appear tough on crime, then shortly afterwards hijacked a Rainbow Coalition conference to criticize rap artist Sister Souljah for the benefit of the attendant press. When he needs the black vote, though, Clinton will allow himself to be trumpeted as the most racially sensitive president in American history--if not, in Toni Morrison's memorably ludicrous phrase, "our first black president." Furthermore, the man who...

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ISBN-10: 1859847366
ISBN-13: 978-1859847367
Author: Christopher Hitchens
Publisher: Verso

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