The Time of Forgetting

In his weekly stint on
NPR’s “All Things Considered” Friday (June 24)
, New York Times columnist David Brooks — who says he “looked through” Bill Clinton’s memoir My Life — opined that it wasn’t very well written, which was too bad because “you really only get one chance to write a memoir.” Oh, really?

It’s been just over ten years since the death of Richard Nixon, but already Brooks seems to have forgotten his rather prodigious output. In addition to a number of books on policy matters, he wrote at least three memoirs. Back when we didn’t have him to kick around any more, Nixon wrote Six Crises about his political career in Congress and as vice-president. After leaving the presidency, Nixon published The Memoirs of Richard Nixon and In the Arena: A Memoir of Victory, Defeat, and Renewal. As with Clinton’s book, the reviews sort of depended on who read them, with critics of his post-presidential memoirs complaining that they were self-serving and less than honest, and fans thinking they were great.

Clinton turns 58 this year. If he lives as long as Nixon, he’s got 23 years. Plenty of time to write quite enough memoirs to make Brooks happy.