The book “The Agenda: Inside the Clinton White House” (1995) written by Bob Woodward keeps an eye Bill Clinton’s activities on a day-to-day basis, and most often than not on a minute-by-minute account starting from the period Clinton made a decision to run for president by way of telling the story of his campaign, the election, and Clinton’s first year in office as President. The book deals with the time from late August in the year 1991to early 1994.
Almost two-thirds of the book covers the planning, writing, and eventual passing of Bill Clinton’s economic policy, which is considered to be the “heart” or “core” of his presidential campaign in the year 1992. Meanwhile, I personally think that the heart of Woodward’s book is about the synergetic activities of the First Couple – Bill and Hillary —. This activities include their collaboration and partnership with their advisers and friends, their interpersonal relationship, their power, skill and capability to have an influnce on Congressmen, and also their failure to adapt and adjust to the way of living in Washington.
In writing this book, the author interviewed and reinterviewed over 250 individuals. Sometimes, Woodward carried out 20 interviews with 10 sources to document and record a single meeting or a decision made. According to Woodward, in majority of these interviews, he had an agreement with his sources that he will withhold their identity. Nevertheless, in a lot of instances, the readers of the book could easily recognize these sources.
Aside from conducting Woodward also obtained information from diaries, schedules, meeting notes, transcripts, and memoranda. I think that most likely, the greatest surprise of the book is the degree to which the people or the sources gave their private papers and opinions to Woodward. In fact, a lot of those people who are close to the First Couple offered exceedingly candid, and oftentimes condescending evaluation of Bill and Hillary.
Upon reading the book, as I have said earlier, I think that the topic of the book is Bill Clinton’s first year in office and his effort mainly to pass an economic plan. However, I also think that his effort also includes NAFTA and Health Care. As I can remember, President Clinton had promised three main things as far as his economic plan was concerned. These things are first, to cut the deficit; second, to cut middle class taxes and third, to reinvest in social programs for the working and middle classes.
Nevertheless, they swiftly discarded the tax cut and the spending programs ensured afterward, so all they had left was a strategy to cut $500 Billion from the country’s deficit for a period of five years. This brought about a big gap and discord among the inner circles of the Administration. According to the book, on the one hand were the deficit hawks and on the other hand were the people who wanted to stress tax cuts and spending programs.
In the meantime, according to Woodward, somewhere in the middle, leaning one way or another, was President Bill Clinton. Despite the fact that the author discloses in detail what a lot of people know, which is the reality that Bill has a temper and has the capacity to be enraged at people, Woodward likewise portrays Bill as a man who is sincerely concerened regarding what has occurred to the middle class people and a man who honestly desires to fulfill his promises made during his campaign and help the people.
Moreover, in his book, the author depicts Bill as a hard-working and intelligent President who might have a hard time coming up with a decision, yet wishes to attain what he thinks and feels will enable America to become a safer, better, and more secure nation. In this book, Woodward has also portrayed a somewhat convincing and believable picture of Bill Clinton at work as President. Nevertheless, he also showed a not-so-pretty picture of Bill Clinton.
For instance, Woodward has shwin that Bill Clinton tends to vacinate, even though Bill’s uncertainty to act in a powerful and straightforward way is an outcome of thinking too much. Hence, it is in this part that Woodward paints a positive image of Hillary. According to Woodward, she thinks that the burden of implementing the Administration policies was too much on her husband and she also thought that a lot of senior officials in the Administration and on the staff were stopping short of full preparation.
In his book, Woodward also disclosed some of Hillary’s thoughts about Bill. According to the book, Hillary said that her husband was such a complex person. She also said that no one had described the whole personality of Bill because people kept attempting to chop Bill into little pieces. She further said that her husband confused people because his manner produced dissonance. Woodward has kind words for Hillary in this book. Obviously, it can be gleaned that Woodward spent several hours with Hillary and was extremely impressed with her.
In his book, Woodward regards Hillary to be Bill’s most significant adviser. Woodwards thinks that Hillary is a considerate and compasionate woman because she is eager on doing things that she thought would be best for America. Woodward said that oftentimes, Hillary thought of the thousands of people they had seen and met during their campaign rallies and trips and rallies and she thought and felt that she and Bill had a responsibility to deal with these people’s and the country’s concerns.
In terms of the style in writing thr book, Woodward’s book is well-written and interesting and offers a postive and favorable impression and account of Bill Clinton’s work as President. I even think that the book could convince or persuade some Republicans to vote fo Democrats in the next election for President. In reading this book, the reader will observe that Woodward made a novelistic approach to a political issue because as stated earlier, Wordward was able to show that he obtained information from a variety of sources including getting insider information.
I think that the purpose of the book is to show that Woodward has unique access to the inner councils of government, and to show the reader an exciting glimpse of the typically unknown process of governing. I believe that through his work, Woodward was able to show that in his own subtle way, he is capable of creating an indictment of centralized political power. I think that “The Agenda” is a good example of this method of Woodward. Nevertheless, I also think that there is a problem with the author’s failure to take into account larger concepts and ideas.
Since the author’s viewpoint is somewhat narrow, since sometimes he is looking down into the details, he tends to miss the big picture. I think that the big picture is how insignificant Clinton’s bill was. Moreover, the author mainly centered on Bill’s failures but doesn’t put the appropriate emphasis on the plan’s conclusion: President Clinton got his economic plan passed eventually despite of the odds against him and numerous gaffes, a budget that could be considered as equally important as the 1981 Reagan plan, was passed.
Lastly, I think that Woodward must have done o a better job explaining how hard and complex it is to get things accomplished and fulfilled in Washington, particularly legislation that is viewed as damaging well-established and ingrained interests and introduced by a freshman administration. # Reference Woodward,B. (1995). The Agenda: Inside the Clinton White House. Pocket.
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