Carol Felsenthal’s new book about Bill Clinton’s post-presidential years, Clinton in Exile, is often catty, occasionally malicious, and overly reliant on unnamed sources. It’s also pretty boring; when Felsenthal’s not muckraking, she’s content to trot out newspaper accounts of Clinton’s foundation work and his appearances on the guest-speaker circuit. But don’t fret—with Slate’s reading guide, you can zip straight to the water-cooler-worthy gossip.
Clinton the Luddite
Page 35: Shortly after Clinton left office, he went out to lunch in Chappaqua, N.Y., with Jake Siewert, his former White House press spokesman. Clinton wanted to treat but, according to Siewert, he couldn’t get the ATM to work. “He had his card, but he did not know his pin number. He was trying to call Hillary to get it, but he could not reach her.” They ended up splitting the bill.
Page 198: Clinton hasn’t gotten accustomed to the Internet age. He “does not use a computer or send e-mail, and he certainly has never blogged.” According to Kinko’s founder Paul Orfalea, both he and the former president “have their e-mails printed out for them.”
Pages 103 and 104: Clinton and Ron Burkle, the supermarket magnate, have been buddies since 1992. Felsenthal repeats the old rumor that “Burkle and Clinton are … partners in philandering.” She also quotes an unnamed source alleging that “Burkle and Clinton spend time together doing things that Hillary would not want made public” and reports that Burkle calls his private plane “Fuck Jet.”
Page 109: In addition to Burkle, Clinton spends much of his downtime with Miami businessman Philip Levine, billionaire money manager Jeffrey Epstein, and movie producer Stephen Bing. An unnamed source told Felsenthal, “Stephen Bing epitomizes that crowd. Clinton’s still very much a skirt chaser and these guys in Hollywood are movers and shakers. Stephen Bing [is a] rich, young guy on the loose with power … who is bedding every broad. … That really appeals to Clinton.”
Page 110: Felsenthal’s sources trash Terry McAuliffe, the one-time chair of the Democratic National Committee. An unnamed Clinton “supporter” wonders why 42 “would want to spend so much time with a man who may be shrewd but seems limited intellectually and whose adoration for Bill and Hillary is creepy.” Don Fowler, another former DNC head, says McAuliffe “lives off” his close relationship with the power couple.
Is He Still Cheating?
Page 76: Felsenthal spills a lot of ink trying to figure out whether Clinton cheats at … golf. She interviews people who say he doesn’t and people who say he does but ends up giving more weight to the latter because it boosts her argument that the one-time leader of the free world likes to be treated as an exception. According to Robert “Buzz” Patterson, a former military aide, Clinton cheated “pretty much on every hole. … If there was a bad shot, he’d drop two or three balls and hit them all and play the best shot. … On any given hole he might have seven, eight, nine shots and counted it as four or five.”
Page 109: Off the golf course, Felsenthal has no doubt that Clinton still fools around. An unnamed source claims that Clinton “has done some things that are wildly inappropriate, even after Monica Lewinsky, even after he’s trying to become this venerable sage of American politics, he still does it. He’s just fundamentally flawed.”
Pages 224-226: Felsenthal repeats the tabloid rumor that Clinton dated Belinda Stronach, a Canadian heiress and former member of the Canadian parliament. She doesn’t have any irrefutable evidence, but she quotes Eric Reguly of the Globe and Mail as saying, “Bill Clinton was very much a part of [Stronach’s] life.” Per Reguly, Clinton was attracted to Stronach because she’s rich, attractive, and at one point had a chance to become prime minister of Canada.
Page 226: Never wary of spreading blatantly unsubstantiated gossip, Felsenthal says vaguely, “Closer to home, rumors [have] persisted about a married woman, a neighbor in a woodsy, hilly village north of Chappaqua.”
Page 217: So he cheats, but what’s his technique? Felsenthal has the scoop from a woman who had seen him around Hollywood. “[H]olding your hand just a little too long, putting the hand on your back, ah, just a little too long.”
Pages 232 and 233: As recently as summer 2006, Clinton told a financial supporter that Hillary wouldn’t run for president “because she can’t win. … Do you realize that 51 percent of the people in this country who vote are women? Women don’t want Hillary. So I doubt if she’s going to run.” He’s also “been heard to say that Harold Ford Jr. and Barack Obama ‘are the two guys with the juice to go all the way some time in the future.’ ” Sounds like a good attack ad.
Page 240: Clinton’s been itching to get back on the campaign trail ever since he left office and has been a bit too eager coaching Hillary. One night at a conference, he felt that Hillary had answered a question incorrectly. According to Peter Hart, a pollster, Clinton called the moderator down and said, “I think my wife’s got the formulation wrong. Why don’t you call on me and I’ll clarify it?” Unsurprisingly, the moderator ignored his request.