What If Bill Clinton Was Your Dad?

By Caroline Miller,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 26, 2009 8:54 AM CDT
In this Sept. 6, 1992, file photo, then Presidential candidate Bill Clinton talks with his daughter Chelsea, 12, before a rally in Hot Springs, Ark. Chelsea was only a couple years older than Malia Obama,...   (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, File)
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(Newser) – Charismatic charmer. Triangulating pragmatist. Narcissistic horndog. Whatever the prevailing stereotype of Bill Clinton—and they've all had legs—Taylor Branch shows a Clinton we know little about in his new book The Clinton Tapes: seriously devoted dad. In conversations from 1993 to 2001, Branch shows Clinton refusing to let the demands of the Oval Office get in the way of his relationship with his daughter. When Gore begged him to go to Japan to address a serious rift, the president said he couldn't—because of Chelsea's midterms.

"Al," Clinton said, "I am not going to Japan and leave Chelsea by herself to take these exams." Just about the only person he wouldn't keep waiting—or exploit for political gain—Nancy Gibbs notes in Time, was Chelsea. Gibbs sees not only a proud papa but a man well aware of his own failings looking at Chelsea and seeing "the self he never managed to become. She was a source of hope when he was bitter, of perspective when he was self-pitying. He was one to gather laurels; she preferred to share them."