In July 1993, White House official Vincent Foster wrote an anguished lament: "in Washington...ruining people is considered a sport."
Nine days later, Foster was dead. Shock at the apparent suicide of one of President Clinton's top aides turned to mystery, then suspicion, as the White House became engulfed in an ever-widening net of unanswered questions. Among the confidential matters Foster was working on when he died was the Clinton's ill-fated investment in Whitewater, an Arkansas land development. Soon conspiracy theories were circulating, alleging that Foster was murdered because he knew too much. And the Whitewater affair, a minor footnote to the 1992 presidential campaign, was suddenly resurrected in the national media. To a degree that left them sunned and at times depressed, the president and the first lady have been buffeted by a succession of scandals, from the first lady's profitable commodities trading to the sexual harassment allegations of Paula Jonesl Like his predecessors, the Clinton presidency son found itself engulfed in allegations of scandal, conspiracy, and cover-up.
Drawing on hundreds of interviews, many with people speaking publicly for the first time, James B. Stewart also sheds startling new light on these and other mysteries of the Clinton White House. In a fast-paced narrative that ranges from a backwater town in the Ozarks to the Oval Office, from newsrooms in New York and Los Angeles to offices of conservative think tanks and special prosecutors, the result is an unprecedented portrait of political combat as it is waged in America today.
Here, in detailed reporting, is the story of how these alleged scandals burst upon the national stage; who nurtured and exploited them; how the president, first lady, and members of their administration reacted and why; how the allegations were dealt with by the media; and what the impact has been on the principal characters and on national policy. This story shows the president and first lady as they really are, both in their rapid rise from Arkansas politics and acting under duress in the White House. It is the story of the people around them, many disgraced or tarnished by what happened: Bernard Nussbaum, the embattled White House counsel; Webb Hubbell, the Arkansas ally at the Justice Department who confessed to felonies; Bill Kennedy, a top White House lawyer forced to return to Little Rock. And it is the full story of Vince Foster, a quiet, reserved, and loyal confidant and friend of the first family whose tortured career in Washington can be seen as a metaphor for the toll public service exacts today.
Going beyond the news headlines, Blood Sport also tells the fascinating stories of key figures at the heart of the action, such as Jim McDougal, once Clinton's political and financial mentor, and his glamorous but naive wife, Susan, who swept up the Clintons into their real estate empire, then faced financial ruin. It is the story of top national reporters and editors such as Jeff Gerth of The New York Times, who broke the Whitewater story only to find himself the object of controversy. It is the story of David Bossie, the tireless conservative operative who became a one-man army against the Clintons and even penetrated a network news operation. It is the story of Paula Jones, a small-town girl with dreams of Hollywood, and of the Arkansas state troopers who broke their code of silence to add fuel to the Clinton scandals. It is the story of prosecutors Kenneth Starr and Robert Fiske, the secretive, powerful independent counsels whose wide-ranging investigations could vindicate - or destroy - a president.
Set against a backdrop of national affairs and political intrigue, Blood Sport is more than the story of the Clintons' political trial by combat. It is a vivid portrait of our times, destined to be an enduring examination of political power and its limitations, of information and its dissemination, and, ultimately, of human nature. For anyone interested in American democracy, the revelations of Blood Sport will reverberate for this and future presidencies.