Bill Steigerwald

Conservative columnist and author R. Emmett Tyrrell has not really spent half his career reporting scandals about Bill and Hillary Clinton. It just seems that way. The American Spectator, the conservative monthly magazine he founded in 1967, broke some of the earliest stories about "Troopergate," "Travelgate" and "Filegate" in the early 1990s. And two of his books, 1997's "Boy Clinton" and 2003's "Madam Hillary," were unflattering but best-selling biographies of his favorite Democrat power couple. Now the irrepressibly troublemaking Tyrrell has updated the Bill Clinton saga with "The Clinton Crack-Up: The Boy President's Life After the White House." I talked to him Thursday, April 18, by telephone from his offices in Washington.

Q: Why can't you just leave the poor Clintons alone?
A: Because I read the newspapers! (laughs) And they're in the newspapers -- often the headlines -- every day!

Q: What's a quick synopsis of your book?
A: The book takes up from Clinton's last hours in the White House and is the only book to chronicle his years of retirement, as he raises vast amounts of money for himself, recaptures the Democrat Party, and paves the way for his wife's coronation.

Q: Would you characterize what he's doing as work or play?
A: I characterize it as "obsession," (laughs), which is to say his life. His life, as I say in the book, has been one long itinerary.

Q: Is he still the same old Bill?
A: If that's the way you're going to phrase the question, let me answer it by saying, emphasis on "old." He's really aged. I crashed his birthday party in Toronto and saw for myself what my sources had told me during the 2{1/2} years I spent writing the book -- that Clinton had aged astoundingly. He's not in particularly good health. Why that hasn't made it into the new stories about him, I don't know.

Q: Why did you write this book?
A: I’ve been fascinated with the 1960s generation, and the 1960s generation is now facing its probably great political struggle in ’08. There’s the conservative side, which I have been on all these years, and there’s the left-wing side, which the Clintons and Jean-Francois Kerry and Howard Dean and Al Gore have been on. I’ve followed them from the beginning and I’m convinced that whoever gets the Democrat nomination in ’08 will be giving the left-wing of that generation its last opportunity to lay claim to the identity of the entire generation.

Bill Steigerwald

Bill Steigerwald, born and raised in Pittsburgh, is a former L.A. Times copy editor and free-lancer who also worked as a docudrama researcher for CBS-TV in Hollywood before becoming a reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and a columnist Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Bill Steigerwald recently retired from daily newspaper journalism..