Clinton's "Life" Hints of Tangled Web

Kelly Boggs

McMINNVILLE, Ore. — "My Life," (Knopf) the memoirs of former President Bill Clinton, hit bookstores June 22. It is currently selling so well the publisher has ordered a second printing which, according to USA Today, brings the total copies in print to 2.25 million.

While "My Life" is listed as nonfiction, one has to wonder if it might be more suited for another aisle in the bookstore. Given Clinton's propensity for twisting the truth, perhaps the fiction section might be more appropriate.

The most recalled of the former president's falsehoods is the occasion he stared steely eyed and defiant into a television camera and asserted, "I never had sex with that woman." Months later Clinton confessed he indeed had been involved in, what he termed, an "inappropriate relationship" with Monica Lewinsky.

Some believe that Clinton's litany of lying is part and parcel of his life's legacy. In "My Life" he even admits to living what he calls "parallel lives" since childhood. Given the former president is known to play fast and loose with the truth, you have to wonder which parts of the book are authentic and which parts are figments of Clinton's creative recollections.

Not surprisingly, several portions of the book are being called into question.

In "My Life," Clinton mentions that while he was governor of Arkansas he had a "relationship that I should not have had" with Gennifer Flowers, an Arkansas lounge singer. However, he denies that it lasted 12 years as Flowers maintains.

While campaigning for president in 1992, Clinton claimed he had never been involved with Flowers. Six years later Clinton finally admitted his affair with Flowers, though in the vaguest of language.

It has been said that clever liars give details, but the cleverest don't.

In his memoir, Clinton claims that when he was seeking to broker peace in the Middle East, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu assured him that he was prepared to give up the Golan Heights.

The Jerusalem Post reported June 23 that Netanyahu rejected Clinton's claim. He said the former president's version of events is incorrect and that the Americans never were involved in any stage of the secret contacts between him and the late Syrian leader Hafez Assad.

"I never agreed to withdraw from the Golan Heights in any situation or in any talks," he said in radio interviews. "The negotiations were unsuccessful because I insisted that the final international border be located miles eastward of the current border."

In "My Life," Clinton also maintains that his wife was named after Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to scale Mount Everest. According to a report on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's website, the former president's assertion has one flaw – Edmund Hillary conquered the world's tallest peak in 1953, seven years after Mrs. Clinton was born.

In his autobiography, "Nothing Venture, Nothing Win," Edmund Hillary wrote that in 1946 – the year of Hillary Clinton's birth – he was making an unassuming living as a beekeeper.

"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive," Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott said.

The aforementioned represents but three passages in "My Life" that are being challenged. And the book has only been available to the public for a few days! Don't be surprised if others are called into question.

In reference to Bill Clinton's memoirs, I have but one question: How many lies does a person have to tell before trust is violated?

"Fame is proof that people are gullible," someone once observed. Gullibility also helps explain the success of "My Life."

© 2004 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.