On Bill Clinton’s critique of the Vanity Fair piece about him

I said I’d comment after reading Bill Clinton’s 2,500 word critique of Todd Purdum’s Vanity Fair piece. I haven’t read it. Yet.

Slate’s Jack Shafer has:

“A tawdry, anonymous quote-filled attack piece,” the critique seethed, one that “repeats many past attacks on him, ignores much prior positive coverage, includes numerous errors, and ultimately breaks no new ground. It is, in short, journalism of personal destruction at its worst.”

Shafer agrees that it’s tawdry — “but can any profile of the man… [linked with all these women] …be anything but tawdry? — and he is highly critical of the “extravagant reliance on unnamed sources.” But, he says, “the Clinton critique races to irrelevancy after that.”

What the Clinton letter fails to acknowledge is that his many questionable business dealings, all gathered here, make for an eye-opener for those who haven’t followed his adventures since the final days of his administration. There’s the Marc Rich pardon and Rich’s ex-wife’s $450,000 contribution to Clinton’s library fund, not to mention all the dubious donors to the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation. There’s Clinton’s private-jet travel with investor Jeffrey Epstein, who was indicted on soliciting prostitution charges in Florida. Don’t forget the $3 million in consulting fees he’s collected from InfoUSA, or the $15.5 million he’s earned from playboy magnate Ron Burkle, or Burkle’s investments in the Middle East. A whole book could be written about Clinton’s relationship with the Canadian mining financier, which the New York Times broke in January and Purdum reprises.

If nothing else, Purdum’s piece makes a superb case for the means testing of presidential pensions. Between them, the Clintons have made $109 million in the past eight years. Why does this man deserve a government pension? (See this Washington Post piece for the run-down on the Clintons’ income.)