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No One Left to Lie To cover art

No One Left to Lie To

By: Christopher Hitchens,Douglas Brinkley - foreword
Narrated by: Simon Prebble
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Publisher's Summary

"Just as the necessary qualification for a good liar is a good memory, so the essential equipment of a would-be lie detector is a good timeline, and a decent archive." In No One Left to Lie to, a New York Times best seller, Christopher Hitchens casts an unflinching eye on the Clinton political machine and offers a searing indictment of a president who sought to hold power at any cost. With blistering wit and meticulous documentation, Hitchens masterfully deconstructs Clinton's abject propensity for pandering to the Left while delivering to the Right, and he argues that the president's personal transgressions were ultimately inseparable from his political corruption.

Hitchens questions the president's refusals to deny accusations of rape by reputable women and lambasts, among numerous impostures, his insistence on playing the race card, the shortsightedness of his welfare bill, his ludicrous war on drugs, and his abandonment of homosexuals in the form of the Defense of Marriage Act. Opportunistic statecraft, crony capitalism, "divide and rule" identity politics, and populist manipulations - these are perhaps Clinton's greatest and most enduring legacies.

©1999 Christopher Hitchens (P)2012 Audible Ltd

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A searing polemic

Hitchens does really skewer president Clinton here. I found myself struggling to remember just what it was that I was supposed to like about his administration; from executing the mentally ill, to gutting welfare, to don't ask don't tell, to wag-the-dog bombing ventures in Sudan and elsewhere, the picture painted is an ugly one. And this is not even to mention the serial sexual misconduct, which liberals were supposed to put up with in exchange for... well, it's not really clear what we got in exchange, after all. The only, admittedly lame, excuse I can offer for Clinton is that, well, the alternative Dole administration might have been in some respects worse.

Now that Bill Clinton's legacy is being reassessed by the left in the Trump era, Hitchens' polemic feels almost as timely as ever. (One wishes he could have stayed around long enough to direct his deadly wit at Trump, though I imagine he'd probably much rather still be dead than bear witness to debasement of the presidency that's at least an order of magnitude greater than anything Clinton was responsible for.) I'm not quite sure what we'd make of Hitchens were he writing today, however; he has this peculiar way of writing where, even though the sympathies of his arguments obviously lie with the powerless, he often sounds almost like a National Review columnist, sort of looking down his nose at people, often women, in a way that I think would rub many present-day readers the wrong way.

And this leads me to the part of the book I found the weakest: his attacks on Hillary. They just didn't seem to stick, to me, at least not to the degree of the attacks directed at Bill, and the mean-spiritedness of many of them seems to leave Hitchens open to charges of misogyny. Near as I can tell, his chief criticisms of Hillary are that she is very busy, so doesn't always have time to talk to people, that she carefully maintains her public persona, and thus to Hitchens she seems "fake" or whatever, and that she's not self-critical. I'm not sure exactly what Hitchens expected from her, but these just seem like qualities of an ambitious public person to me. I'm not sure what would be gained exactly if she were always criticising herself, for instance, or if she were thoughtless and sloppy in how she presented her public image.

The non-Hitchens narrator is a pretty perfect match for providing that smarmy quality that Hitchens had, so his jokes land well, and the rest provides that Hitchens flavour.

In all, this book probably is a bitter pill for progressives to swallow, but a valuable one, in helping us come to reckoning with the Clinton years. Republicans have shown that they have absolutely no shame when it comes to hypocrisy over presidential private behaviour, so hopefully Democrats can keep the lessons of the Clinton era in mind, beyond just this particular political moment.

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A masterful account

A great analysis of the Clinton era. Hitchens is a master - still missed.

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