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Behind the Oval Office: Winning the Presidency in the Nineties [Hardcover]

Richard B. Morris
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

13 Feb 1997
Dick Morris has written the ultimate inside story about the dramatic reelection of President Clinton, one that is certain to stir controversy about the way politics really works in America today. No one before has so vividly described what policy advisers, pollsters, and advertisers do behind the scenes in the Oval Office. And no one has so acutely identified the new political forces that are dominating America today.

Dick Morris was, as Time magazine put it, the most influential private citizen in America. He was President Clinton's secret election strategist, invited to advise the demoralized president in the wake of the midterm debacle of 1994 that gave Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole control of Congress and, it seemed, a certain Republican victory in the 1996 presidential campaign. It did not turn out that way. Clinton made the biggest comeback in the history of modern politics, and he did it largely because of his partnership with Dick Morris, the man whose remarkable political insights helped Clinton become governor of Arkansas in 1978 and rescued him from defeat in 1982. They had a rapport that Clinton himself has called "probably unique in American history."

The assignment after the 1994 Republican congressional victory began in utmost secrecy. Morris, who had to cross the road from being adviser to Republicans such as William Weld, Dan Coats, and Trent Lott, was for months known only as Charlie, an unknown source calling Clinton's private White House telephone number. None of Clinton's Cabinet or inner circle knew anything about this, and they could not understand why Clinton began speaking in a new voice. When Clinton decided he needed Morris in the White House working with others, Morris became an object of intense scrutiny, speculation, and envy. He was Washington's great mystery man. He refused on-the-record press interviews. He was controversial. But he succeeded brilliantly. He laid the foundation for Clinton's return to the White House for a second term. He decided to write a book about it all--about his view of Clinton, his own role, and his perception of a change in the mood of the voters. In August, the president asked Morris to wait until after the election to write this book and to make it "right for Bill Clinton and right for Dick Morris."

And then Morris blew it.

On a day to savor his triumph, on the day when a resurgent Clinton addressed the Democratic Convention, Morris was on the way out in disgrace: revealed as having had a relationship with a prostitute who claimed he talked freely of his work for the president.

In Behind the Oval Office, Dick Morris makes no excuses for his personal conduct. He is candid about it--painfully so--contemplating the wreckage of his career and the damage to his marriage. But with his book he achieves something significant on three levels. Shedding light on the unseen forces that drive politics today, he reveals just how the Republicans were routed by a combination of a Democratic shift to the center and an unprecedented and secret selling strategy. We have a box-seat view of the struggles in the White House for the soul of the Democratic party. We are taken deep into the hidden relationship between President Clinton and Republican Senate leader Trent Lott. The author explains how the deals they cut formulated the laws they passed--laws that doomed Dole's bid for the presidency.

And then there is William Jefferson Clinton. Morris gives us a three-dimensional portrait of the man and the politician. He draws on their twenty-year relationship to explain Clinton to us so vividly, with such new perspective, that we meet him as if for the first time. Morris lets us finally understand Bill Clinton and gives us vital clues about what he will do for the next four years. And we see Hillary Rodham Clinton at work and at home, facing up to political storms and adding her voice to the disputations about which way the Democrats should go.

Finally, Morris, the master of polling, gives us a surprising perspective on the values and desires of America, the key that enabled Clinton to respond and unlock the door to a second term in the White House, the first Democratic president to achieve that in fifty years.

This is an extraordinary book with a compelling narrative and incisive analysis by a political operator of unparalleled experience. It is filled with insights, touched with pathos. It is must reading for everyone who cares about the future of American democracy.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 379 pages
  • Publisher: Random House USA Inc; 1st Edition edition (13 Feb 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067945747X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679457473
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 16.3 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,005,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Publisher

President Clinton Revealed!
If you missed the hardcover edition of Dick Morris's controversial Behind the Oval Office, you cannot miss this new paperback version. This edition not only tells the story of the turnaround in the president's fortune that led to his victory in 1996, but it also contains new material that shows the startling inner workings of the Clinton Presidency. In the new introduction, Morris gives us an inside view into the mind and behavior of Bill Clinton, torn between a "Sunday-morning" idealism and a "Saturday-night" attraction to danger and inappropriate liaisons. Even more revealing, however, are the more than 200 pages of original briefing papers--the agendas--replicated and released here for the first time to the public. These are actual documents given to President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore at their weekly strategy meetings by Dick Morris and the campaign's political consultants. Insightful and intriguing, Behind the Oval Office is a must read for anyone who truly wants to know how politics work. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars warts and all 3 Aug 2000
By A Customer
Dick Morris explains the process of decision making at the heart of the Clinton administration. Without glossing over the personal follies of both boss and advisor Morris shows how Clinton surrounded himself with pragmatists and idealists drawing from both camps the philosophy and the policy needed to continue in office. Best appreciated along with 'All too Human'by Clintons other camp leader, this book deatils the events and the tactics that reelected the first real modern leader.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book if you love politics 14 July 1999
By A Customer
Mr. Morris seems a bit full of himself in the book. However, if you are someone who follows politics, then you will love this book. The behind the scenes accounts are a great insight into the Clinton presidency. I recommend this book to all political junkies.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too bad he wasn't a Republican. 26 Jun 1999
By A Customer
I'm a die-hard conservative Republican, yet I could not stay away from this book. His detailing of the strategy that got Clinton re-elected, as well as pointing out what the Republicans could have done and should have done was extremely interesting. Frustrating, too. After reading this book, it is obvious why you hear Forbes already putting out radio commericals for next year's election. Start early. Too bad Morris is not a die-hard Republican. We could use people with his strenghts and assets.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tricky Dick 18 Feb 1999
By A Customer
Must read for those who love the sport of politics. Insightful, intelligent and funny. Dick Morris offers a rare inside look at campaign strategies and the enigma that is Bill Clinton.
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