Bill Clinton graces the cover of the December issue of Esquire magazine, titled "The Genius Issue" (also known as Best and Brightest 2005.) The cover headline: "Bill Clinton: The Most Influential Man in the World Starts Getting His Hands Dirty." Oh, but the screaming-teen fanzine tributes (in between fancy cologne samples) are just beginning. Up front, Esquire editor David Granger writes about how "the next twenty or thirty years could be the most productive of his life...His new freedom, along with the global affection for him, his unmatched capacity for compassion, and his unparalleled access to the world's centers of power and money can combine to make him the most powerful agent of positive change in the world. Bill Clinton can become something like a president of the world or, at the least, a president of the world's non-governmental organizations - and from that vantage, he can marshal a power unfettered by any petty political concerns: the power to do good."
That's so gooey and sugary it should come with a calorie count.
The story on Clinton inside is authored by....Joe Conason, co-author of "The Hunting of the President," a book that wrung out several hankies against the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. Conason's piece is titled "The Third Term: The dawning of a different sort of post-presidency." Conason quickly got to work buffing his hero's image: "Clinton had committed himself to bring medical treatment ot the millions dying from AIDS in the underdeveloped world. Most probably didn't notice the announcement, a year later, that the William J. Clinton Foundation had negotiated agreements to drastically reduce the cost of HIV/AIDS drugs and diagnostics -- an achievement that is already saving hundreds of thousands of lives and promises to save millions more." The story reads like a glorified press release, touting the Clinton Global Initiative and all its inspiring works.
Clinton, in turn, takes the chance to buff Jimmy Carter's image: "I've never met anyone who did more with the gifts God gave him than Jimmy Carter."
One pull quote summarized the puff piece as it underlined Clinton's humility: "When he talks about his foundation's AIDS work before audiences, he sometimes tells them not to applaud because so few of the suffering are being treated."
Then there's this paragraph: "As fluent as Clinton sounded when reciting statistics, however, the numbers alone don't fuel his determination. What seemed to motive him, as ever, was human contact. [Stop giggling under your breath!] Day after day in Africa, in visits to the grimmest rooms, in dingy hospital wards where doctors and nurses persevere in the worst circumstances, and in clinics where patients must confront the overwhelming social stigma of their disease just to show up for treatment, Clinton's energy did not flag."
And then, "he held sick children on his lap and promised their sick mothers that he would continue to send them the medicine that keeps them alive, for free."