Their Lives: The Women Targeted by the Clinton Machine
By Candice E. Jackson
Reviewed by Michael J. New
Ever since the 1992 election, books about President Clinton have become a virtual cottage industry in conservative circles. With titles like High Crimes and Misdemeanors, Slick Willie, and Legacy, conservative writers have made the case for President Clinton’s impeachment, thoroughly researched his background, and critiqued his eight-year presidency. Indeed, many would conclude that there would be scarcely enough room on the shelf for another title about President Clinton. However, with the paperback version of President Clinton’s memoirs now in the bookstores, World Ahead Publishing has recently released a needed corrective: Their Lives: The Women Targeted by the Clinton Machine by Candice E. Jackson. Billed as the stories that Bill Clinton left out of My Life, Jackson uncovers the trail of bribes, threats, and intimidation that Clinton's inner circled leveled at the women who got in their way.
While other authors have researched President Clinton’s scandals and marital indiscretions, Jackson offers the reader considerably more than another litany of allegations. Most coverage of scandals involving President Clinton has dealt with their political ramifications. However, Jackson looks beyond the politics to put a human face on the pattern of threats and intimidation Clinton and Clinton doled out.
Jackson secures interviews with both Kathleen Wiley and Juanita Broadrick and details how the lives of many of these women continue to be adversely affected by their involvement with President Clinton, even years after their story faded from the national spotlight. Furthermore, the fact that Jackson herself is a victim of sexual assault gives her some additional insights into the pain and trauma that many of these women suffered.
Indeed, Their Lives features chapters devoted to the often painful stories of President Clinton’s most well known accusers including Elizabeth Ward Gracen, Sally Purdue, Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, Monica Lewinsky, and Juanita Broadrick. The fact that the reader gets to hear these seven stories in succession is very powerful and lends a great deal of insight into President Clinton’s boorish behavior.
Furthermore, nearly all of these women faced intimidation after they went public with their stories. Paula Jones, Elizabeth Ward Gracen, and Juanita Broadrrick all received unexpected IRS audits. Clinton supporters assembled an attack team to smear Kathleen Willey, a grief stricken widow, after the media covered her story. Both Willey and Gracen had to deal with stalkers. In fact, while jogging, Willey was threatened by a man who knew the names of her cat and her children. He instructed her to lie during her upcoming deposition in the Paula Jones case. Furthermore, almost none of the women profited financially from their short-lived fame. In fact, because of their legal fees, many of the women profiled in the book face financial struggles to this day.
Taken individually, some of these stories could appear to be very serious, but isolated, lapses in judgment. However, by presenting these stories in succession, Jackson clearly demonstrates what a reckless, promiscuous, ruthless, self-interested figure Bill Clinton really is. Indeed, if the general public had heard all the details of all of these scandals at the same time, it seems highly unlikely that President Clinton would have been elected in 1992, nor re-elected in 1996.
Jackson, however, does considerably more than just relate stories. At the end of every chapter, Jackson uses the experience of each woman to describe how a particular tenet of modern liberalism can either breed or remain tolerant of misogyny. Conservatives spilled considerable amounts of ink during the late 1990s sharply chastising feminist groups for their near dogmatic support of President Clinton. However, Jackson shows that support for Clinton was consistent with the liberal worldview of many of these groups.
For instance, Jackson argues that in modern liberalism, political goals justify any political means to achieve them. As such, liberal feminists supported President Clinton since he would help them achieve their political goals, including easy access to abortion. Similarly, Jackson argues that modern liberalism believes that the validity of the message is determined by the motives of the messenger. Consequently, claiming that Clinton’s accusers are motivated by money or ideology is enough to discredit them, regardless of the accuracy of their story. Jackson will not be so easily pigeonholed, as she describes herself as a libertarian feminist and admits she is intrigued by the idea of electing a woman president.
The stories that Jackson relates and her political commentary mesh nicely in the final chapter in the book, which deals with Hillary Rodham Clinton. This chapter is easily the most relevant to the current political scene due to Hillary Clinton’s status as the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. However, Jackson counsels against electing Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton was a willing partner in her husband's attacks. She always defended her husband politically and never gave any of her husband’s accusers a shred of sympathy or credibility. Jackson concludes that Hillary Clinton’s preference for her own political career over the well being of her husband’s victims make her a poor choice for feminists, the Democratic Party, or the American people. The nation’s voters will not soon forget these harrowing tales of victimization – and the role Hillary played in enabling them all.