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INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE—CLINTON

  (来源:英语博客 http://space.englishcn.com)

I was in the White House one day in 1993 because President Clinton was reading a book II had written about President John F. Kennedy, the man he says inspired his life in politics. We chatted for a few minutes, the President showing me from which direction the British had come when hey set fire to the White House in 1814.

Soon, my scheduled ten-minute drop-by had stretched into lunch and more than two hours of conversation. The talk, most of it by him, was interrupted only by three polite attempts to break it up by one of his assistants, George Stephanopoulos, whispering that Robert Dole was on the telephone hoping to talk about Haiti and application of the War Power Act.

The President ignored them. On the subject of Jean-Bertrand Aristides the man U.S troops were poised to forcibly reinstate as president of Haiti, Clinton met my questions about his legitimacy and stability with a defining politicians answer: “I know what they say about him, but be got 67 percent of the vote.” Votes are the moral imperative in his business.

A year later, when I came to the White House for an interview on October 18, 1994, it was different. Clinton had given himself over to handlers. Assistants Stephanopoulos and Mark Gearan were sitting on a couch in the Oval Office, placed so that he could see them but I could not. A couple of times, when I bent over my notes, Clinton looked over to them, apparently seeking acknowledgment that he was sticking to his script.

After a half-hour or so, Chief of Staff Leon Panetta came in, an obvious signal that it was time to end. I was asking, “ Why do so many people dislike you so much?”

  “The radical right and the Congressional Republicans have demonized me,” he answered. Then he changed direction.

“ You know the story about the guy who falls off the mountain, down into a canyon to certain death, and he sees the little twig, grabs it. And the roots start coming out? He looks down. Hundreds of feet below, and he says: “God, why me? Why me?” And this thunderous voice comes out of the heavens and says: “Son, there’s just something about you I don’t like!”

I asked, “Do you know what that something is?”

“No,” Clinton replied. “All I know is that I work hard at this job.”

A lot of people hated President Roosevelt and his wife, many for the very good reason that he was a great man, changing the assumptions and rules of being American. He changed lives.

Many Americans hate President Clinton and his wife, too, for reasons that are much less clear, He has accomplished more than a few things, but none of them have been life-changing for great numbers.

There is obviously widespread mistrust, which seems to begin with Clinton’s manipulation of whole truth. Mainly, though, millions of Americans hate Clinton not because of great events of his Presidency, but because of the 1960s — the ani-authoritarianism, the attacks on great institutions from government to religion, the overthrow of patriotism and traditional American history.

But Clinton is a professional—the most gifted politician of his generation, self-created and almost Roosevelt-like in his political skills. He will do whatever he has to do in the next two years to survive— and very possibly win re-election.

In fact, Clinton has already found the appropriate maxim. Paraphrasing Lincoln, he told a reporter, “You may take another time, where Lincoln said, ‘I am controlled by events. My policy is to have no policy.’”

 

白宫里的克林顿

 

1993年的一天我来到白宫,因为克林顿总统在读我写的一本关于约翰·F ·肯尼迪的书,他说肯尼迪对他的政治生涯起了鼓舞作用。我们聊了几分钟,总统指给我看英国人在1814年时从白宫哪个方向放的火。

很快,原本计划十分钟的拜访一直延续到午餐时间,谈话进行了两个多小时。交谈中主要是他在侃侃而谈,其间只被他的助手,乔治·斯蒂芬尼普勒斯礼节性地打断了三次,低声说罗伯特·多尔来电话想谈谈有关海地及实施作战权力法案的事情。

总统未去顾及那些。关于让·伯特兰·亚里斯泰迪斯的问题,美国军方打算强行恢复他海地总统的职位,克林顿以政治家的明确态度回答了我关于他复职的合法性和安定性的问题:“我知道他们对他的看法是怎样的,可他有百分之六十七的选票。”选票在他的事业中在道义上是绝对必要的。

一年后1994年10月18日当我来白宫接受会见时情况就不同了。克林顿好像自己不再作主了。助手斯蒂芬尼普勒斯和马克·奇兰坐在椭圆形办公室的长沙发上,正好是他能看得到而我却看不到的位置。有好几次,当我俯身记录时,克林顿就望望他们,很显然他是在确认他的讲话是否与稿子的内容一致。

大约过了半个小时后,参谋长莱昂·佩尼塔走进来,这是个明显的该结束谈话的暗示。我问道,“为什么有那么多人如此不喜欢你?”

“激进的右派和国会共和党人把我丑化了,”他答道。接着他话锋一转。

“你是否知道关于一个人跌落山崖的故事,落入峡谷行将就毙,他看到一截小树枝,抓住了它,而树根开始脱落?他看到下面是万丈深渊,就说道:“上帝,为什么是我?为什么是我?”上苍传来轰鸣的声音说:“孩子,因为你有些事我不喜欢!”

 
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