The Final Days:
The Last Desperate Abuses of Power by the Clinton White House,
by Barbara Olson
(Click for Amazon book review)
You can tell a lot about a book from its cover. Barbara Olson's previous book, Hell To Pay has an absolutely awful picture of Hillary Clinton on the cover; and the book's content paints an absolutely awful picture of Hillary Clinton. This book has a much nicer picture on the cover, of a smiling Bill & Hillary waving good-bye, and it paints a much nicer picture of them than Olson's first book.
Olson published Hell To Pay in 1999, as an attack on Hillary as she ran for Senate. Olson published The Final Days in 2001, after Hillary was elected to the Senate and after the Clintons had left the White House. Hence it can be seen as an attack on Hillary as she prepared to run for president (which at that time, seemed a possibility for 2004).
The book focuses, as its title indicates, on the Clintons' final days in the White House, and on what Olson views as the Clintons' abuse of power in their final months. The key period is the weeks after Gore conceded the 2000 election and before the inauguration, when the Clintons knew they would be preparing for a Bush presidency. The abuses in that brief period are well-known now: from numerous pardons, including some to campaign donors; to the Clintons' claiming some White House furniture as personal rather than state-owned. Several of the "abuses" claimed by Olson went beyond politics and into policy: from a last-minute change in the EPA definition of allowed arsenic levels; to making the United State a signatory to the International Criminal Court.
The reason this book paints a nicer picture than Hell To Pay is because it moves beyond politics to policy. In that regard, it's a detailed description of what Clinton did, mostly by Executive Order, in anticipation of four years of a Bush presidency undoing Clinton's 8-year legacy. Certainly environmentalists would consider the arsenic rule a major victory -- not an abuse of power by any means. And internationalists will forever applaud signing on to the International Criminal Court as a major means of restricting Pres. Bush's near-solipsistic anti-internationalism.
We review this book now because Hillary has just become Secretary of State. But the book focuses equally on Bill -- and of course all the policy "abuses" are attributable to Bill, since his signature is on the Executive Orders, even though Hillary had some influence. While the TARGET of the book's attack is Hillary, because she was running for president, the FOCUS of the book is Bill, because he was the president. Summarizing that focus in the opening chapter:
"All of his superhuman flaws, his energy, and his appetites betrayed him during those last few weeks. It was as if the strange outcome of the presidential election had so shocked and upset him that he lost his senses, his political compass, and any ability to listen to his more level-headed advisers. The story of these last few weeks is ultimately traceable to, and the culmination of, the president's life and history. In fact, it is the perfect metaphor for Bill Clinton, the man and the president."
-- p. 10, in chapter 1, "The Final Frenzy"
There's one additional historical note about this book: Barbara Olson was killed on 9/11/2001. Olson's family decided to publish the book posthumously. Hence this book is the final say from a well-known conservative journalist about the Clintons. The Publisher's Note at the opening of the book provides details:
"Barbara Olson was killed on September 11, 2001, when the airplane she has just boarded for Los Angeles was hijacked by terrorists and crashed into the Pentagon. She had finished this book, and we had completed the editorial and pre-publication work on it the week before she died.
Needless to say, her death presented a difficult dilemma to us. Should we cancel the book, or should we proceed? Would Barbara have wanted it to be published without her? After agonizing over the decision-and after lengthy conversations with Barbara's family, friends, and colleagues—we decided that the proper thing to do was proceed.
We firmly believe that the last thin she would have wanted would be for us to withdraw the book rather than let her have her final say."
-- p. iii-iv
-- Jesse Gordon, jesse@OnTheIssues.org, Feb. 2009
Click on a participant to pop-up their full list of quotations
from The Final Days, by Barbara Olson (number of quotes indicated):
- Bill Clinton (14)
- Hillary Clinton (5)
OR click on an issue category below for a subset.
Bill Clinton: 1993: allowed abortions on overseas U.S. military bases.
Bill Clinton: 1993: Issued gays-in-military policy ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’.
Bill Clinton: 1995: On affirmative action: “mend not end”.
Bill Clinton: Pardoned half brother Roger; 1st family member ever pardoned.
Energy & Oil|
Bill Clinton: 1997: Signed Kyoto Protocol on global warming.
Bill Clinton: Imposed 608 pages of ergonomic rules in final days in office.
Bill Clinton: Lowered arsenic levels in drinking water.
Hillary Clinton: Alienated Jewish voters by kissing Mrs. Arafat.
Bill Clinton: 1999: Pardoned FALN Puerto Rican terrorist group.
Principles & Values|
Bill Clinton: Toni Morrison calls Clinton “first black president”.
Bill Clinton: Accepted 5-year law license suspension in Paula Jones case.
Bill Clinton: OpEd: Bill’s infidelity was enabled by state troopers.
Bill Clinton: Loses Supreme Court on sexual harassment lawsuit.
Hillary Clinton: $8M book advance not vetted by Senate ethics panel.
Hillary Clinton: Claimed no role in Travelgate firings.
Hillary Clinton: NYC offices costs taxpayers $514,000 per year.
Hillary Clinton: Accused of failing to disclose gifts as First Lady.
War & Peace|
Bill Clinton: Claimed it a “fluke” he wasn’t drafted in 1968.
Bill Clinton: Visited Vietnam to “honor sacrifice on both sides”.
The above quotations are from The Final Days:
The Last Desperate Abuses of Power by the Clinton White House,
by Barbara Olson.
Related books, debates, and candidates:
BIASED AGAINST HILLARY:
- Friends in High Places, by Webb Hubbell (1997) - Insider's view of the Clinton governorship and presidency
- The Final Days, by Barbara Olson (2001) - exploration of actions at the end of the Clinton presidency
- The Extreme Makeover of Hillary (Rodham) Clinton, by Bay Buchanan (2007) - a well-written attack book, outlining all of Hillary's trouble spots, by Pat Buchanan's campaign manager.
- Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race, by Dick Morris (2005) - the predicted race didn't happen, but still a good analysis by Bill Clinton's former adviser.
- Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, by Amanda Carpenter (2006) - every possible "Swift-boating" is here.
- Partners in Power, by Roger Morris (1999) - anti-Hillary, anti-Bill, and anti-Democrat.
- Madame Hillary, by R. Emmett Tyrell (2004) - anti-Hillary from a moderate perspective.
- What Every American Should Know, by the American Conservative Union (2000) - anti-Hillary during her Senate run.