In This Review

On the Edge: The Clinton Presidency
On the Edge: The Clinton Presidency
By Elizabeth Drew
Simon & Schuster, 1994, 462 pp

Elizabeth Drew, the well-known Washington journalist, has written an uneven book on the Clinton presidency. Focusing mostly on Clinton's first year, Drew gives a solid day-by-day account of the confused decision-making and wild mood swings at the White House, yielding a picture of general fecklessness. In a revealing anecdote, former Secretary of Defense Les Aspin, listening to the president talk about Robert Kaplan's Balkan Ghosts in May 1993, realizes that Clinton has grave reservations over the plan for Bosnia that Warren Christopher was just then presenting to European allies. "As he heard the president talk about it, Aspin thought, `Holy shit! He's going south on lift and strike.' " Unfortunately the book is littered with the dull argot of inside-the-Beltway spinmeisters. The emphasis is more on personalities than policies. A recurring motif is that Clinton needs to redefine his presidency, but a general theme of themelessness does not inspire in a book this long. The volume ends abruptly, with the Clintons heading off to Martha's Vineyard in the late summer of 1994, but with no summing-up that tells the reader, as the jacket blurb promises, what the Clinton presidency means for the country.