The inner life of every White House is veiled in mystery. Only a select few partake in the sensitive discussions of the Oval Office or the casual banter about high policy and low politics conducted over the engine roar of Air Force One. The privilege of the president's confidence depends on the confidentiality of such exchanges while the president's term endures. Inside the Clinton White House, however, provides a front-row seat to that previously unknown history of the 42nd presidency. In the decade after Bill Clinton left the White House, scores of his political advisors, senior White House staff, and cabinet officials recorded oral history interviews with scholars working with the acclaimed Presidential Oral History Program at the University of Virginia's Miller Center. The contents of these interviews are published for the first time in this volume, selected and edited by Russell Riley, co-chair of the Oral History Program. The portraite of the Clinton presidency provided here is based on some 400 hours of conversations with more than sixty people.
These interviews track Bill Clinton's emergence as a national political figure with the New Democrat movement, take the reader inside the hectic 1992 campaign, and then detail the ups and downs of life inside the Clinton White House as experienced by those who were there. Extended sections of the book are devoted to domestic policy (including reforms of the health care and welfare systems), foreign policy (including military interventions in Haiti and the Balkans), politics in the Clinton years (including impeachment), and the key personalities of the time (including chapters on Al Gore and Hillary Rodham Clinton). These candid spoken accounts-history "with the bark off" in Lyndon Johnson's phrase-add color and nuance to our understanding of Bill Clinton and his administration, sometimes confirming and sometimes upending the conventional wisdom.
Russell L. Riley is Associate Professor and Co-Chair of the Presidential Oral History Program at the University of Virginia's Miller Center, where he has conducted nearly 300 oral history interviews with senior officials from every administration since Jimmy Carter's. He is the author and editor of several books on the American presidency, including The Presidency and the Politics of Racial Inequality: Nation-Keeping from 1831 to 1965 and The President's Words: Speeches and Speechwriting in the Modern White House.