Bill Clinton – The Beginning of a Political Career
Of all the possible universities, Clinton chose Georgetown University in Washington, the ancient and authoritative Jesuit college that overlooks the neighborhood where Kennedy had lived with Jacqueline at the beginning of his political career and which is a few minutes walk from the White House. “I wanted to be as close as possible to the places of government and politics – he will explain – to breathe that air”. He was a fine student, first receiving the Rhodes Scholarship to attend Oxford and then, graduating from Georgetown, earning his doctorate of law from Yale. But eyes were always on the grand prize, the White House, politics, Kennedy’s hand. When the call for Vietnam came, he used every means, every recommendation to avoid war, but in his pleading letter to a military district colonel, to ask for his student leave, Bill Clinton let slip an eloquent sentence. He wrote that he did not want to desert, run away, do anything illegal to escape Vietnam, so as “not to compromise my future political options.”
After marrying a fellow student at Yale in 1975, a young woman from Chicago named Hillary Rodham, who approached him in the university library and said, “Since you keep staring at me, at least tell me your name”, and then have to briefly teaching law at Arkansas University, Clinton began a political career. He was elected general attorney, a state attorney, in Arkansas and later, in 1978, governor, at 32 – the youngest governor in US history. He instantly became the golden boy, the promised boy of a Democratic Party who, in those years, was looking for the new forces for his political future among the governors of states. In 1976, two years earlier, another young Southern governor, like Clinton, had been elected president: Jimmy Carter.
He table Governor Clinton’s biographical sketch was perfect, almost an apologue for the ‘American dream’: a boy from the South, born poor in terrible conditions, overcomes his difficult childhood and, with the strength of his wits and hard work, sets out towards the success. In Democratic Party circles, his name was whispered and then shouted. Clinton was perfect: southerner but progressive, therefore appreciated by the electorate of African Americans who are the indispensable base of the Democrats; progressive but moderate, even centrist, very suitable in a nation where the political axis was visibly shifting to the center. Young and pleasant-looking, which was an indispensable element in the politics-entertainment made for television, well married to a brilliant woman, father of a family (meanwhile, Chelsea, the only daughter was born), well financed by the billionaires of his state – the farmer Tyson, the king of American chickens, and Mr. Walton, the king of cheap department stores -, vaguely Kennedy, at least just enough to stir in the voters the never dormant nostalgia for JFK. The public Clinton was perfect. But behind the smiling, intelligent face was the private Clinton, the one we had left in the Hot Springs house, in front of his stepfather beating his mother, the orphan whom the small, narrow provincial world had always looked upon as a ‘bastard’, like the son of that crazy Virginia. And while the public Clinton was already marching towards his dream, the private Clinton accompanied him: on the panting nights of the South he ran from woman to woman, from bed to bed. With the complicity of guardsmen and policemen, unconsciously trusting their absolute loyalty, he would visit one night’s friends, ask the bag holders to ‘cover’ him with his wife Hillary, even take a steady and regular mistress, Jennifer Flowers, an ex night dancer, conversing with her on the phone, confiding, night after night, ignoring the risk that the woman – as she would have done on time – would record, for future reference and for her own guarantee, the love calls with the governor of the state. The mature, very prudent Clinton public who measured every political gesture, weighed every sentence thinking about the future with the balance of centrism, became Clinton unconscious in private, the gambler who risked his future every evening, his political career, on the roulette of high school adventures consumed and finished in the present. “I don’t do it for women, I do it for the sake of risk” he explained to those who knew him. Jennifer Flowers told several times, in the course of various depositions, that he had proposed to make love even in the kitchen of the official residence of the governor, while in the next room Hillary, his wife, entertained the guests. To friends who knew and were horrified, Clinton replied not to worry, that he would always get away with it.