TheNew York Times Magazine always gets the fanciest cover stories, and then people talk about them forever, whether the subject be Chris Matthews or that in-house reporter nut who can't pay his mortgage. And last Sunday's profiled Conan O'Brien! (PSST GOOD LUCK ON MONDAY CONAN.) This week's covers Bill Clinton, the former president who now cures AIDS. A number of anecdotes merit the ol' Wonkette Blockquote -- one comical bit involves the president planting trees, alone, in sadness -- but we'll run with the part about how Clinton's best friends are Christopher Ruddy, the vicious wingnut founder of Newsmax, and Richard Mellon Scaife, who spent the '90s actively working to destroy the Clinton Presidency from a gargoyle chamber in Pittsburgh.

Bill Clinton just wants to be loved, is the thing. That is the whole thing about Bill Clinton.

Yet if Clinton has a powerful memory for slights, he also has a remarkable capacity for reconciliation. He is likelier to find peace with people who hate him the most than with friends who betray him. He focuses his considerable charms on seducing the person in the room he finds most resistant. Among those he has been friendly with lately is Christopher Ruddy, a conservative journalist who was a chief proponent of cover-up theories involving the Clintons during the 1990s. In his book, “The Strange Death of Vincent Foster,” Ruddy rejected official findings that Foster, a deputy White House counsel, killed himself in a Virginia park and suggested the possibility of “a cover-up conducted by people who have, with the help of the press, placed themselves above the law.” Ruddy also advanced the notion that Ron Brown, the Clinton commerce secretary who died in an airplane crash in Croatia in 1996, was actually shot in the head.

Ruddy today is the founder and chief executive of Newsmax, a conservative news-magazine. He told me he came around on Clinton after Ed Koch, the former New York mayor, introduced them. That led to lunches and more contacts, and now Ruddy says he was wrong about Clinton. “I do consider Bill Clinton a friend, and I think he would consider me a friend,” Ruddy said. “And to think of all the wars we went through in the ’90s, it seems almost surreal.”

With the passage of time, Ruddy said he came to believe that Clinton was much less liberal than his enemies thought. After all, Clinton overhauled welfare, tamed the deficit and promoted free trade. While still a proud “Reagan conservative,” Ruddy said he now thinks the attacks on Clinton in the 1990s went too far. “Did we like and enjoy all the salacious reporting and all the stuff going on in the ’90s?” he asked. “I guess we thought, This is just politics. But looking back at my role, I was probably over the top. And if I knew then what I know today, I wouldn’t have pursued some of that stuff as aggressively as I did. I did an honest reporter’s job. But I have a different take on it now.”

Ruddy also attributes his change of heart to Clinton’s foundation, which has impressed him and other onetime foes. Richard Mellon Scaife, the billionaire publisher who financed Ruddy’s investigations and other anti-Clinton activities, is now a contributor to the foundation. So is Rupert Murdoch, the News Corporation chairman whose Fox News was a regular thorn in Clinton’s side. Clinton over the years has also made peace with other former adversaries, like Bob Dole and Newt Gingrich. The elder George Bush told me he now considers Clinton “a real friend.” When I asked what changed his view, he wrote in an e-mail message: “I didn’t know him personally back then. I knew him, but not up close and personal. Now I do.”

The next few paragraphs are about how Clinton loves George W. Bush, and even filmed pornography for him to watch on his flight home to Texas in January. Recommended Reading! But this blockquote is long enough, for a blog.

The Mellowing Of William Jefferson Clinton [NYT Magazine]


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