Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Something Different: Presidential Book Bites

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Something Different: Presidential Book Bites

Article excerpt

We fret over the social and political implications of

government by sound bite, elections lost and won by image,

marketing, instant replay. Thus has it been at least since

Richard Nixon neglected to pat pancake over his five o'clock

shadow before a televised debate with JFK in 1960, and it's

getting worse.

This year is no different. Sound bites rule.

Or do they?

The last presidential election of the 20th century -- good

grief, Charlie Brown! -- is also a fierce battle of the books.

Maybe I missed something in campaigns past, but I cannot recall

an election in which the books poured forth in a mighty flood

before the votes were counted.

In the last months, a partial, highlights-only list of books

with presidential politics on their agenda obviously includes

James Stewart's Blood Sport , a look at Whitewater; Bob

Woodward's The Choice about the president and the campaigners

for the Republican nomination; Hillary Clinton's It Takes a

Village ; Roger Morris' Partners in Power , unkindly about the

Clintons; Bob and Elizabeth Dole's Unlimited Partners ,

enthusiastically about the Doles. And there are more, more,

more, from the "anonymous" novel by Joe Klein, Primary Colors to

the current non-fiction best-seller by ex-FBI agent Gary

Aldrich, Unlimited Access .

Now, just in time for the Democratic National Convention this

week in Chicago, President Clinton's Between Hope and History

(Times Books, $16.95) is out.

He characterizes it as a continuation of the conversation begun

with the American people when he took office in 1993.

Actually, it falls somewhere between conversation and manifesto

and state of the union address and campaign speech. It is the

President's platform, so to speak, his vision, his version of

where the country needs to go and what we need to do to arrive


The book, a quick read at less than 200 pages, is divided into

three sections:-- opportunity, responsibility, community.

The value of the book, any book, for the candidate who wants to

speak his or her mind without interruption and for the reader

more interested in ideas than personalities and manufactured

moments, is the value of . . . well, reading. You can sit down

with it for an hour or two and actually think about the issues,

where we are, where we want to go. You can concentrate without

distraction or unwanted commentary. …

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