Thursday, June 24, 2004

Now You Don't Even Have To Read Books

Well, at least, books you know will be a complete waste of time.

Bryan Curtis, Chris Suellentrop, and Julia Turner of MSFT's Slate.com have picked out a selection of quotes from Bill Clinton's new bio.


- "I was so exhausted I fell asleep while the stripper was dancing and the goat head was looking up at me" (Pg. 197).

- "I remember one Easter in the 1950s, when I was fat and self-conscious" (pg. 11)

- "Hillary says the first time she ever saw me, I was in the Yale Law School lounge bragging to skeptical fellow students about the size of Hope watermelons" (pg. 14).

- As a kindergartner, Clinton broke his leg after trying—and failing—to jump over a rope tied from a tree to a swing set. From the resulting fear and feelings of clumsiness, he didn't learn to ride a bicycle without training wheels until he was 22 (pg. 19).

- "My favorite movies during [the late '50s] were the biblical epics: The Robe, Demetrius and the Gladiators, Samson and Delilah, Ben-Hur, and especially The Ten Commandments, the first movie I recall paying more than a dime to see" (pg. 36).

- While reading Eldridge Cleaver's Soul on Ice at Oxford, Clinton writes in his diary, "Soul is a word I use often enough to be Black, but of course, and I occasionally think unfortunately, I am not" (pg. 148).

- "[M]y major extracurricular interest from ninth grade on was the Order of DeMolay, a boys' organization sponsored by the Masons" (pg. 44).

- "In the ethics class [at Georgetown] I took good notes, and one day in August another student, who was smart as a whip but seldom attended class, asked me if I'd take a few hours and go over my notes with him before the final exam. ... [T]he guy got a B on the test. Twenty-five years later, when I became President, my old study partner Turki al-Faisal, son of the late Saudi king, was head of Saudi Arabia's intelligence service, a position he held for twenty-four years" (pg. 110).

- "I had fantasized from time to time about being a doorman at New York's Plaza Hotel, at the south end of Central Park. Plaza doormen had nice uniforms and met interesting people from all over the world. I imagined garnering large tips from guests who thought that, despite my strange southern accent, I made good conversation" (pg. 172).

- In 1971, Clinton hits a Volkswagen and discovers he doesn't have his driver's license. "They stripped me of my belongings and took my belt so that I couldn't strangle myself, gave me a cup of coffee, and put me in a cell with a hard metal bed, a blanket, a smelly stopped-up toilet, and a light that stayed on (pg. 175).

- Robert Bork: His constitutional law class was Yale Law School's "most interesting class by far" (pg. 176).

- While on the road campaigning for Congress against John Paul Hammerschmidt in 1974, Clinton loses five of his students' law-school exams. "I was mortified. I offered the students the option of retaking the exam or getting full credit without a specific grade. They all took the credit, but one of them was particularly upset about it, because she was a good student who probably would have made an A, and because she was a good Republican who had worked for Congressman Hammerschmidt. I don't think she ever forgave me for losing the exam or for running against her old boss. I sure thought about it when, more than twenty years later, that former student, federal judge Susan Webber Wright, became the presiding judge in the Paula Jones case" (pg. 220-221).

- "Our bond market gambit would work beyond our wildest dreams, bringing lower interest rates, a soaring stock market, and a booming economy" (pg. 537).

- Some don't like touchy-feely games. At an early administration retreat at Camp David, "we were supposed to bond by sitting in a group, taking turns telling something about ourselves others didn't know." Clinton reveals he was mocked for being chubby as a child. Lloyd Bentsen and Robert Rubin refuse to participate (pg. 449).

- Gingrich's Republican Congress opposes big government and international air travel. "A surprising number of them didn't even have passports," Clinton reports (pg. 642).

- Clinton notes, apropos of nothing, that it has recently come to light that Thomas Jefferson fathered several children with slave Sally Hemmings (pg 882).

- In the middle of tense Middle East peace negotiations, Ehud Barak nearly dies after choking on a peanut (pg. 914).

- Clinton says he issued too few pardons on his way out the door—he wishes he had given passes to Webb Hubbell and Jim Guy Tucker. Of Marc Rich, whose ex-wife was a supporter: "I may have made a mistake, at least in the way I allowed the case to come to my attention, but I made the decision based on the merits" (pg 939-41).

- Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw teach him the card game Oh Hell! (pg. 516).

- Chelsea's sweet 16 party in 1996: Les Misérables at the National Theater, then paintball with friends at Camp David (pg. 701).

- Strom Thurmond, 94, tells Chelsea, "If I were 70 years younger, I'd court you!" (pg. 742).

- On a visit to Italy, the actor Roberto Benigni leaps into Clinton's arms and shrieks, "I love you!" (pg. 879).

- After a White House interview with Kenneth Starr, Clinton offers him a tour of the Lincoln Bedroom (pg. 653).

More Quotes Available at The Slate Condensed Clinton Biography

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