Clinton Compared Gore to Mussolini?

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As I noted yesterday, the new book on Bill Clinton, based on taped conversations he had throughout his presidency with Taylor Branch, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and FOB, is loaded with intriguing and juicy passages about the Clinton years (like Hillary Clinton dumping on Sally Quinn because Quinn was spreading the rumor the First Lady had been caught trysting with a female veterinarian in a White House bedroom). But perhaps the most fascinating subplot of the 707-page tome is the relationship between Clinton and Al Gore. The book details the now-famous conversation the two had after the 2000 election, an encounter that was both heated and weird, with each man caught in a different view of reality about that election and other matters.

Now that I’ve had more time to peruse the book, I’ve come across other passages that illuminate the tensions and affections these pols shared.

* Describing one interview in which Clinton was evaluating Gore’s campaigning during the 2000 election, Branch writes, “Gore lacked confidence in a light touch. Whenever he tried to be aggressive, said Clinton, Gore could come off ponderous and harsh, like Mussolini.” Mussolini? That’s harsh.

* During a “stressful consultation” between the two men when Gore was running for president, Gore, as Clinton recalled to Branch, told Clinton that “he, Gore, was a good politician, elaborating that he meant good on the policy, and also good on the politics, but admitted that he did not instinctively blend the two. Gore said he had to think about it, and Clinton thought this was pretty close to the bone. As a policy person, and a government person, Gore would make wise choices. He had the stuff to be a great president.”

So Clinton compared his veep to a fascist Italian dictator, but believed he could be a great president, and Gore realized that his major deficit was integrating the policy wonk and the politician within him. What I’d like now is to see Gore’s side of the tale. Or perhaps a book just on what went on between these two guys. Mr. Vice President, where are your memoirs of the Clinton years?

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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