All Too Empty

Primary Colors--narrated by a character based on Stephanopoulos.

In a weird, postmodern twist, Stephanopoulos seems to draw even from his fictional alter ego. During the 1992 campaign, he says, his own doubts about Clinton's character merely increased his determination to fight even harder: "Now I was a true believer." Joe Klein's "Henry Burton" put it this way: "True Believerism...I was caught up in the thing. I had no perspective."

The Clinton people are true believers in their own righteousness--and in the basic evil of anyone with a different viewpoint. When a Republican House candidate won an upset victory in a 1994 special election, Clinton said: "It's Nazi time out there. We've got to hit them back." Stephanopoulos shares this attitude, describing criticism of federally funded midnight basketball as "a fiscally conservative stance with a racist subtext."

Stephanopoulos now suggests that he has lost some of his faith in Clinton--but only because his lies got too gross to ignore. Never in this book does he seriously question his beliefs about the role of government, or even acknowledge that the issue might be subject to debate. There's plenty of introspection here, but it's all petty. Obsessing about whether he was up or down, he forgets to ponder whether he was right or wrong.

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