Nixon was the president that best-selling author Chuck Klosterman most wanted to explore in his new book “I Wear the Black Hat,” a tome about villains. But after reading up on the Republican, the “Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs” writer thought again.
“I was born in ‘72, my understanding of this person is totally unrelated to what the experience being alive at that time was like,” Klosterman told a Washington audience Wednesday night. “But I…really vividly remember all of the Clinton/Lewinsky stuff.”
And so President Bill Clinton was dubbed one of Klosterman’s “villains” for the sake of the book, but what Klosterman really explored is why Clinton walked away from the affair not totally looking like the bad guy.
“When Clinton spoke at the Democratic Convention [last] year his approval rating was 60 percent among women,” Klosterman noted. “That’s an amazing figure for a guy who is the best known philanderer of the last 50 years…and so I was like, why is that?”
Klosterman talked about how the scandal was a five-sided problem–there’s Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky, Kenneth Starr, Linda Tripp and “to a degree” Hillary Clinton. “Somehow who has come out of that situation better than any of them?” Klosterman mused. “And it’s because, you know, he doesn’t talk about it.”
As evidence, Klosterman pointed to Clinton’s autobiography. “Within those 1,056 pages, the word Lewinsky is mentioned 17 time (nineteen if you include the index). By comparison the word football is somehow used thirty-five times,” Klosterman argues in his book. “If you used his autobiography as a way to understand Monica Lewinsky, all you would know is that she was a woman,” he told the crowd.
In the end, Klosterman felt on the fence about the 42nd president. “Bill Clinton is not the villain here,” he writes. “I mean, he is the villain, but no one feels that way unless forced to somehow describe why (or how) he should be viewed in any other context.”