Bill Clinton’s new novel, co-written by author James Patterson, centers on a heroic president who sounds a lot like Bill Clinton in some ways. He had a poor upbringing, met his wife in law school, had a single daughter and is facing impeachment. But what’s most interesting are the ways in which the character, President Duncan, differs rather starkly from the real President Clinton. From the Washinton’s Post’s review of the book:
The novel opens with the commander in chief, President Duncan, preparing for a House select committee. His staff has strongly advised him against testifying. “My opponents really hate my guts,” Duncan thinks, but “here I am”: just one honest man “with rugged good looks and a sharp sense of humor.” Facing a panel of sniveling political opportunists intent on impeaching him, Duncan knows he sounds “like a lawyer” caught in “a semantic legal debate,” but darn it, he’s trying to save the United States! Although Congress insists he explain exactly what he’s been up to, he can’t reveal the details of his secret negotiations with a terrorist set on destroying the country.
As a fabulous revision of Clinton’s own life and impeachment scandal, this is dazzling. (One only wishes Rep. Henry Hyde could have lived long enough to attend the book party.) The transfiguration of William Jefferson Clinton into Jonathan Lincoln Duncan should be studied in psych departments for years. Both men lost their fathers early and rose from hardscrabble circumstances to become governors. Both men met their brilliant wives in law school, and both couples have one daughter.
But then we come to the curious differences: Rather than shrewdly avoiding military service, President Duncan is a celebrated war hero. Rather than being pleasured in the Oval Office by an intern, Duncan was tortured in Iraq by the Republican Guard. And rather than being the subject of innumerable rumors about extramarital affairs, Duncan was wholly devoted to his late wife and now lives in apparent celibacy.
The fact that draft-dodger Bill Clinton has a veteran as his literary avatar would be bad enough, but according to the NY Times’ review, he’s not just any veteran he’s G.I. Joe: “Duncan is also a Special Forces war hero who was waterboarded in Iraq and could have been a baseball star if his injuries hadn’t forced him into politics.”
But the best part may be that Clinton’s doppelganger is celibate. The First Lady apparently gets killed off early in the book but makes Bill’s stand-in promise to find love with someone else!
Readers may wonder why the authors decide early on to kill off the first lady, who was a brilliant law student when she first dazzled Duncan, and why some of her last words were: “Promise me you’ll meet someone else, Jonathan. Promise me.”
Let’s face it, any sex scenes in the novel would have immediately invited unflattering comparisons to real life. Plus, the fact that Bill Clinton would have helped write a sex scene would have made it the most famous blue passage since Fifty Shades of Grey. The authors couldn’t risk all of that. The only choice left to them was to make the president in the book a celibate man pining for his dead wife. Sorry, Hillary, it had to be done.
Speaking of which, I wonder how Hillary feels about being killed off in the novel? My guess: She cackled loud enough to wake the dead, especially over the “Promise me” line. Here’s hoping someone asks her about this the next time she pops her head up.
I’ll leave you with this clip from S.E. Cupp whose take on Clinton’s Monica Lewinsky monologue yesterday also seems to fit this story: Bill Clinton is incapable of shame: