The Pact Bill Clinton Newt Gingrich and the Rivalry that à eBook

Most Americans saw President Bill Clinton and Speaker Newt Gingrich as staunch foes the polar extremes of Pennsylvania Avenue But as Steven Gillon reveals in The Pact these powerful adversaries formed a secret alliance in 1997 a pact that would have rocked the political landscape had it not foundered in the wake of the Lewinsky scandal A fascinating look at politics American style The Pact offers a riveting account of two of America's most charismatic and influential leaders detailing both their differences and their striking similarities and highlighting the profound and lasting impact the tumultuous 1960s had on both their personal and political lives With the cooperation of both President Clinton and Speaker Gingrich interviews with key players who have never before spoken about their experiences along with unprecedented access to Gingrich's private papers Gillon not only offers a behind the scenes look at the budget impasse and the government shutdown in 1995 the famous face off between Clinton and Gingrich but he also reveals how the two moved closer together after 1996 closer than anyone knew In particular the book illuminates their secret efforts to abandon the liberal and conservative wings of their own parties and strike a bi partisan deal to reform the third rail of American politics Social Security and Medicare That potentially groundbreaking effort was swept away by the highly charged reaction to the Lewinsky affair ending an initiative that might have transformed millions of American lives Packed with compelling new revelations about two of the most powerful and intriguing figures of our time this book will be must reading for everyone interested in politics or current events

10 thoughts on “The Pact Bill Clinton Newt Gingrich and the Rivalry that Defined a Generation

  1. says:

    Not the best book in the world but the ebook was for sale for 199 so I can't complain too much It was an interesting read and I think it gives some good insight into the characters of both Clinton and Gingrich It does a better job of humanizing Clinton although that might simply be because he's human In any event I think the title is a little misleading This book is really mostly about the backgrounds of Clinton and Gingrich and how it affected their relationship during the Clinton presidency There is only a relatively limited amount of the book maybe two chapters specifically addressing the proposal to overhaul Social Security Medicare and Medicaid I suspect this secret plan was added to the book late as a hook to draw in readers If so it worked on meOne additional flaw that really stood out to me may seem like a minor uibble but I found it particularly irritating Gillon uotes David Brock several times and in the process refers to him as a conservative David Brock may have been conservative at one time but not for uite some time and certainly not when this book was published In recent years he founded Media Matters for America a left wing organization and can now best be considered a liberal partisan Not sure how Gillon could have missed that one especially since he uoted from Blinded by the Right Brock's book about his transition away from the Republican Party

  2. says:

    This was the second book I read to try to learn how American politics went from a rather sporting rivalry commonly found in 'normal' countries to the current ugly partisanship which seems like a country on the brink of war As it is written by an academic I expected it to be a bit better than the journalistic first book I read on the matter Instead I was disappointed For all the flaws of Kornacki he achieves insight into 'what's gone wrong' Having said that though Gillon probably didn't set out to write such a book Gillon's interest resembles that of the ancient historian Plutarch He sets out in his introduction his case that Clinton and Gingrich had enough in common that they could in fact have led a bipartisan regime that would navigate the US political economy through an apparent crisis in its social welfare provisions most importantly the worrying problem of funding the Social Security system He then spends the rest of his book following a Plutarchian model of showing how the characters flaws in each man drove them into a situation where their shortcomings derailed their hesitant but genuine ambition to work together Despite admiring Gillon's own ambition here I found his execution a bit lacklustre He possibly hews too closely to Plutarch's placement of the characters in the foreground The most imteresting parts of the story to me were the views of each man's staff I got a much better sense of the pressure they were under from these uotes but Clinton in particular about whom there is much staff commentary remains opaue in his attitudes towards Gingrich and towards the compromises necessary to make government policy Did 'Slick Willie' really believe in anything other than winning elections? Gingrich is the opposite He very much believes in what he has to sell and as the aggressor sets the terms of the engagement Clinton's relativism and electoralism means he sees his job as yielding enough to maintain his party's hold on the White House and perhaps recover ground in Congress What was the most important lesson from the book though is a very important one indeed I wonder how many people at the time would have thought Clinton and Gingrich held amicable conversations away from the need to deliver the reddest of meat to the media? The theatre of the media in my experience is an obsession for normal people and perhaps explains the savage world of Twitter or Facebook The reality of politics is that politicians all know that they have to rip at one another in order to ascend or maintain their grasp on the greasy pole Thus they tolerate much of the abuse they throw at each other as simply part of the game The ability to make trades in the once smoke filled rooms mustn't be compromised for an insult here or there Although each person has their boundaries that sometimes get disrespected leading to enduring animosity So when watching the clowns on cable news remember that their job is to be part of these theatrics You're probably better turning it off and turning on suprisingly to a judiciously curated set of Twitter follows

  3. says:

    The author presents a very detailed picture of the bipartisan coalition and how it came about that Social Security almost had privatization added; but the Lewinsky scandal interfered The author phrases the issue this way Whether the president and the Speaker could have pulled off a major overhaul of Social Security had it not been for the Lewinsky scandal will remain one of the great unanswerable uestions of modern politics Some have the opinion that Clinton could not have overhauled Social Security even if the scandal had not happened; others that it is precisely because of the scandal that the overhaul did not happen And that latter part is borne out by the lack of bipartisan support during the impeachment processOther interesting tidbits Interviews by the author had the most direct support for the idea that both Clinton and Gingrich were working together to save Social Security though a form of privatization Clinton was described as a conservative Republican or a New DemocratIt also outlined the history that both Gingrich and Clinton had grown up with including Lyndon Johnson's Great Society Medicare Medicaid the 1960's and their effect on the two; the civil rights movement and the Voting Rights Act which were supported by Democrats and led to white people fleeing to the Republicans It gave the impact that Gingrich's campaign tactics have on partisan politics even todayThis was a dense book so it may take a while to read it

  4. says:

    I really enjoyed this book A lot of the information in the book I already knew but maybe not at such a granular level I left the book thinking this is a good example of what can happen when someone uses their intellectual talent for evil No one disputes that Gingrich is by all accounts a well read and intelligent man and surely knows how to read data and science However he chose to be a bombastic bomb thrower of a politician and is largely and rightly credited with destroying the civility that used to exist in politics with his brand of no holds bar fighting Of course history has and will continue to bare out that he and his party are largely hypocrites when it comes to the issue of the deficit When there is a Democratic president just whine and bemoan the danger to the future generation caused by America's deficit but when there is a Republican president all of a sudden deficits don't matter any Clinton well he's Clinton and say what you may about him but last time I checked the only 4 years from 1969 to present and maybe the foreseeable future there have been deficits EVERY SINGLE YEAR EXCEPT for 4 yearsand who presided over those 4 years? Clinton

  5. says:

    Each time I think political posturing cannot get worse the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination slouch a little lower Each time I think they cannot get crazier they add a wing to their asylum Historian Steven M Gillon provides an intriguing and depressing backstory in “The Pact Bill Clinton Newt Gingrich and the Rivalry That Defined a Generation”In short Blame the 1960sRepublicans hated Clinton because he was as Gillon uotes a conservative “a womanizing Elvis loving non inhaling truth shading war protesting draft dodging abortion protecting gay promoting gun hating baby boomer”And yet the mortal enemies Clinton and Gingrich were ready to cut the far left and far right loose by agreeing on a plan to fix Social Security according to Gillon who bases his thesis on private papers and many interviewsBut along came Monica Lewinsky and the blue dress Suddenly nothing mattered to Democrats except Clinton’s survival Nothing mattered to Republicans except Clinton’s destructionFourteen years later here we are still playing the same sad ideological game Social Security is still a stick of dynamite Barack Obama must ask himself every night as he wanders the haunted halls of the White House “Why do they hate me? I did not ‘not inhale’ I did not ‘not have sex with that woman’ ”Strangely Clinton wasn’t that liberal and neither is Obama But because the Republicans are still fighting their own private Gettysburg against the 1960s they hate and will always hate so called liberalsIf you don’t remember the 1990s because you were lost in a marijuana haze “The Pact” will help you understand why we are still stuck and why we will remain stuck until all the politicians who remember the disgustingly evil 1960s are dead Until then it will remain amusing to watch the Santorumites and Godrichers and Romneyvores scream and writhe and froth as fewer young people care who marries whom as states approve gay marriage The Founding Fathers called it pursuit of happiness They probably would have grooved on the ’60s

  6. says:

    The author and I differ in a major idea  Steven M Gillon sees it as a tragedy that the Monica Lewinsky scandal permanently damaged the progress of talks between Clinton and Gingrich to make Social Security and Medicare a uasi publicprivate entity  They were going to make history with their pact  I see it as salvation that Monica Lewinsky came along and destroyed the ability for the two men to finalize their pact  Gingrich ended up being swallowed up and destroyed by the conservatives and Clinton had to seek protection with the liberal side of his party  I see it as salvation  I also learned how the anti immigrant provisions and welfare to work bills came to be  Clinton was essentially forced to sign them or not get anything done  The lesson there is that the laws weren't changed later on but became harmful to legal immigrants and things became worse  Food stamp eligibility was cut which didn't seem to matter in flush times as it does in bad  This is an interesting book and it was good to revisit the Clinton presidency and Republican Gingrich and House  The repercussions of what happened still ate with us today   

  7. says:

    Amazing but not surprising Clinton was no progressive and Gingrich was no true wingnut Both were on the uick and dirty with their sex life and the same with their political sense of what could get them ahead pun intended The fact that Lewinsky was suddenly in appearance at precisely the right time seems too much the hand of fate to believe it was simply a coincidence I cannot shake the suspicion that someone knew and as the CIA would do simply put the two principals in position and let nature take its course In view of the AARP's caving into the Republican party strategy for Part D Medicate let Big Pharma have its way I am sure they would have got away with selling out Social Security and presenting it to the elderly of America as a fait acompli for which they would be powerless to find adeuate defense in the political system in order to regain the money which they had paid into FICA their entire working life

  8. says:

    This is a great book Some people may read this book and think Clinton messed up bad and his character made him lose an opportunity for some real big changes Some may read it and say Gingrich messed up bad and his character also caused him to step in it and lose any chance for some big changes I read this book and saw two serious amazing personalitiesflawed and full of ego but pulled by their respective rightleft wing of their parties not to compromise when they really wanted to Both caught in this era of partisan politics but both wanting desperately to break out of that and become bigger then they became To leave a mark on society Partisan politics stopped that ego's and behavior stopped that and it looks like in our present time we will never get that chance again to bridge the gap between political parties An amazing book

  9. says:

    This is a very detailed well researched book that changed my images of both Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich the two were closely aligned than their public posturing and politicking made them out to be Not that they were bosom buddies it was a complicated relationship and each tried to meet in the middle on many issues despite the urgings of their radical constituents In politics it isn't always what it seems to be So from that point of view this is a very interesting book if you're interested in reading about politicsThat said Gillon puts a WHOLE lot into the details giving uotations from three or four different people saying the same thing and repeating the same points through several chapters So you can skim your way through some of this

  10. says:

    An engaging account of the mid 1990s battle between President Bill Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gingrich The author Steven Gillon goes a fine job of making you feel like a fly on the wall during high stakes budget negotiations even if he also overdoes his thesis that the Clinton Gingrich battle is a refraction of the fight over the meaning of the 1960s A fascinating political tragedy of two men undone at least partly by their own excesses Being a Democrat I'm inclined to be sympathetic to Clinton and his actions as President his official actions that is but even so Gingrich is a complex figure that the standard media stereotypes would lead one to think Overall I'd recommend this for good if a bit tunnel visioned insight into 1990s politics