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Most Americans saw President Bill Clinton and Speaker Newt Gingrich as staunch foes--"the polar extremes of Pennsylvania Avenue." But as Steven Gillon reveals in The Pact, these powerful adversaries formed a secret alliance in 1997, a pact that would have rocked the political landscape, had it not foundered in the wake of the Lewinsky scandal.
A fascinating look at politics American-style, The Pact offers a riveting account of two of America's most charismatic and influential leaders, detailing both their differences and their striking similarities, and highlighting the profound and lasting impact the tumultuous 1960s had on both their personal and political lives. With the cooperation of both President Clinton and Speaker Gingrich, interviews with key players who have never before spoken about their experiences, along with unprecedented access to Gingrich's private papers, Gillon not only offers a behind-the-scenes look at the budget impasse and the government shutdown in 1995--the famous face-off between Clinton and Gingrich--but he also reveals how the two moved closer together after 1996--closer than anyone knew. In particular, the book illuminates their secret efforts to abandon the liberal and conservative wings of their own parties and strike a bi-partisan deal to reform the "third rail of American politics"--Social Security and Medicare. That potentially groundbreaking effort was swept away by the highly charged reaction to the Lewinsky affair, ending an initiative that might have transformed millions of American lives.
Packed with compelling new revelations about two of the most powerful and intriguing figures of our time, this book will be must reading for everyone interested in politics or current events.
An unlikely, fleeting and largely unknown alliance between the former president and speaker of the House occupies center-stage of this thoughtful book that recreates the tumultuous years of the Clinton administration. Gillon (10 Days That Unexpectedly Changed America) provides compelling evidence suggesting that political foes Clinton and Gingrich formed a secret alliance in 1997 and were prepared to forge a bipartisan compromise on Social Security and Medicare, a plan that was derailed when the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke. In slightly shapeless early chapters, Gillon surveys the parallels and divergences in the early lives and careers of both men, casting his two protagonists as mirror images of each other: deeply intelligent children of the 1960s greatly affected by the politics of the decade, they became passionate, charismatic leaders who succumbed to personal weaknesses and saw their brilliant careers overshadowed by ignominy. Though Gillon slightly overreaches in framing his story as an epilogue to the culture wars of the '60s, he nevertheless renders a fraught moment in American political history with clarity.