Anorak News | Bill Clinton’s Aural Histories: Boris Yeltsin Hailing A Taxi In His Underwear

Bill Clinton’s Aural Histories: Boris Yeltsin Hailing A Taxi In His Underwear

by | 21st, September 2009

4606153BILL Clinton gave Taylor Branch, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and civil rights historian, 79 oral history interviews. Those interviews now form part of a book.

Bill Clinton was reluctant to speak of Monica Lewinsky. Although Clinton told Branch the Lewinsky affair began because “I cracked; I just cracked“. Brand says he “lapsed”.

And then not without humour, perhaps, Branch tells us:

“He said he could have done worse. He could have blown something up.”

Russell Riley, head of the Presidential Oral History Program at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs, opines:

“There is a poverty of original-source accounts of what truly is happening in the White House (because) people are afraid to put things down on paper… [The recordings] “hold a great deal of promise for us in getting a better picture of at least what President Clinton’s mentality and understanding were at critical moments of his presidency.”

The pick of the anecdotes is not with Lewinsky but with Boris Yeltsin, the rumbustious former Russian Prime Minister:

He also relayed how Boris Yeltsin’s late-night drinking during a visit to Washington in 1995 nearly created an international incident. The Russian president was staying at Blair House, the government guest quarters. Late at night, Clinton told Branch, Secret Service agents found Yeltsin clad only in his underwear, standing alone on Pennsylvania Avenue and trying to hail a cab. He wanted a pizza, he told them, his words slurring.

Yeltsin was always good for a giggle, what the British press call a character, that euphemism for a dishonest drunk.

Bill Clinton was sober.

Posted: 21st, September 2009 | In: Key Posts, Politicians Comment | TrackBack | Permalink