Blogs > Cliopatria > Bill Clinton, Poor Boy?

Aug 26, 2004 1:05 am

Bill Clinton, Poor Boy?

Compared with George H.W. Bush, or W., Bill Clinton grew up poor. But the evidence he provides in his memoir suggests the story he peddled as a politician about his hardscrabble youth was exaggerated.

I am just getting into his memoir. In the first 100 pages or so two things stand out.

1. The time his father shot off a gun in the direction of Bill and his mother.

2. How well-off Bill Clinton was as a youth. He didn't exactly have to beg. His step-father, Roger Clinton, he tells us on page 17, owned the local Buick dealership in Hope. Roger's brother Raymond owned a Buick dealership in Hot Springs. Roger's two best friends also were owners. One owned the local Coca-Cola bottling plant. The other owned a string of drugstores. Bill's best friend was Mack McLarty, son of the owner of the local Ford dealership.

His family moved around. First he lived in a small house. Then they moved to a 400 acre farm. Then they moved into a two-story five bedroom house.

In 1956 his family got a television set--this at a time when most Americans didn't have one. In the summers he attended band camp to hone his music skills. "I went there every summer for seven years." (page 40.)

Throughout his childhood Bill Clinton was tended to by nannies. First there was Cora Walters. She took care of him while his folks were away at work for eleven years. After she left the Clintons, "her daughter Mary Hightower came to work for Mother and stayed thirty more years until Mother died." (p. 23.)

If you are ready to fall out of your chair you really shouldn't be. Bill Clinton, like most presidents, according to a fine study published 20 years ago by Edward Pessen, The Log Cabin Myth, grew up in better economic circumstances than his contemporaries. That you think otherwise is a tribute to the power of the log cabin mythology spun by his media manipulators.

comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:

Rick Shenkman - 9/4/2004

Bush won the debates. People interviewed afterwards said they came away LIKING George W. Bush even when they disagreed with him. That was the election, right then and there. Americans almost always prefer the leader they like to the leader they agree with. (Think Nixon and Humphrey, 1968.) People didn't like Gore. Even his own staff did not much like him, according to a statement Susan Estrich made to one of the history conventions a few years ago. Yes, yes, Gore won more popular votes. But he lost the debates. Three Gores showed up at the debates. One Bush showed up. People preferred Bush.

Derek Charles Catsam - 8/30/2004

Rick --
is there evidence indicating that Bush did win the debates in 2000 in any meaningful way? That is not how i remember it. I do recall that Gore's audible sighing backfired on him in a way, but that in the end Bush may only have "won" because of that whole soft bigotry of l0ow expectations things (ie he set low standards for himself so that what came out as basically a dead heat was a better result for Bush than for Gore; talk about your fuzzy math.) I just do not ever recall any serious people saying that one candidate won and another lost by any substantial margin. I expect the same result this year, lacking a serious gaffe.

David a. Cousins - 8/27/2004

What the media failed to do was to get the Kerry people to answwer questions. Hard questions. They also fail to make an equally big story of Kerry wanting to sue TV stations that air the ads, and a letter writing campaign to get the book pulled from stores. Is that some more of that liberal "tolerance"? Trying to supress the free speech of veterans is the end result of your candidate.