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“The President is Missing” is a newly released “summer read” penned by none other than former President Bill Clinton and bestselling author James Patterson. To call them a dynamic duo in the bookselling universe is an understatement.

So far, the book has garnered some good reviews. The protagonist of the book is President Jonathon Lincoln Duncan. He is a quick-tempered, Glock-totting, Iraq war vet/POW who is facing impeachment for having a phone conversation with “the world’s most wanted terrorist.”

This column is not about the book or its reviews, but rather my somewhat astonished take on the first interview that the authors gave to NBC’s Craig Melvin. While I didn’t see it in its entirety, the excerpts focused on the inevitable questions about the #MeToo movement and Clinton’s “problems,” as he called the whole Monica Lewinsky affair.

When asked about his impeachment 20 years ago and his reflections on that time looking through the #MeToo lens, he stammered. When asked if he had apologized directly to Lewinsky, he became visibly angry and played his own victim card in his defense.

Really? I can’t believe that a man so intelligent, who some have called the “orator-in-chief,” could be so ill-prepared and downright stupid. Did he not think that the subject would come up, especially because his protagonist in the book is facing impeachment hearings?

The book has many women holding high level positions in the White House, including the vice presidency. In his attempted defense during the interview, Clinton noted his record on advancing women during his tenure as governor of Arkansas and as president.

Does he think that somehow a good record on hiring women for important positions absolves him of his egregious affair with his intern Monica Lewinsky?

Later the same day, after the twittersphere lit up with scathing remarks about his narcissism and blatant effort to portray himself as a victim, he tried to do some damage control during another interview. Most found his “do-over” to be too little too late.

For heaven’s sake, it has been 20 years. Twenty years during which time his “problem” has come up over and over again — notably and most recently during Hillary Clinton’s run for the presidency. For a man as politically and media savvy as he has proven to be in the past, not to have answers to the inevitable questions honed and ready is almost unbelievable.

My prediction is that Democratic candidates who once clamored for Clinton to stand beside them on the campaign trail will now be avoiding him, even at cocktail parties.

I have no doubt that “The President is Missing” will be a bestselling moneymaker. But, perhaps there should be one slight change to the title. For an ex-president who, up until recently, had consistently record high approval ratings for ex-commanders in chief and was considered by most to be a consummate communicator, his book should be titled, “The Former President is Missing.”

Wendy J. Levenfeld is a published novelist, playwright and columnist from Chesterton. Send comments to The opinions are the writer’s.


Senior Reporter

Senior reporter Doug Ross, an award-winning writer, has been covering Northwest Indiana for more than 35 years, including more than a quarter of a century at The Times.