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Archives for December 2008

Frost/Nixon: History As It Wasn't

Peter Marshall | 19:05 UK time, Wednesday, 17 December 2008

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The film Frost/Nixon has just come out in the U.S. to rave reviews and it will be in UK cinemas next month. All this builds on the triumph of the play which was brilliantly staged and engrossing entertainment.

But one left the theatre feeling that events as portrayed weren't quite as one remembered, three decades on, the Frost-Nixon interviews on which the play/film is based.

In the play/film David Frost struggles through a series of encounters with Richard Nixon before finally getting the disgraced former president to crack and effectively confess in front of the cameras. It's all nicely dramatic and rather satisfying.

But wasn't Frost perceived at the time as having blown his opportunity? Hadn't Nixon evaded any real confession of wrongdoing? Weren't we television viewers of the 1970s left feeling a bit cheated and, dare I say, bored by the interview saga?

Of course Frost, during that period, was the butt of criticism from the media, particularly in the UK, which could be attributed to professional jealousy (Frost - "good evening and welcome" - had been a regular target since rising without trace on That Was The Week That Was). And yet Nixon was an interviewee vulnerable in so many areas and we needed the catharsis of seeing him own up to crimes in the White House. He didn't.

Here is Elizabeth Drew's take on Frost/Nixon.

Coming Soon: The Clinton Circus Drama For Obama?

Peter Marshall | 16:29 UK time, Thursday, 4 December 2008

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So Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico, is to be Obama's Commerce Secretary, America's "economic diplomat", as the President elect puts it. In common with many of Obama's new front line, Richardson is also another Clinton retread.

The man who was UN ambassador and energy secretary in the nineties will be rejoining his old Clinton era colleagues, Rahm Emanuel, who's become Obama's chief of staff, and Eric Holder, the Attorney General.

They'll be key figures for America's forty-fourth president who owe their earlier incarnations to the forty-second.

Obama says this experience is invaluable: they know their way around Washington and will be equipped to hit the ground running, avoiding making pratfalls into the pitfalls.

Of course, the most important of all the old Clintonians is the woman who was First Lady. Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, will be America's emissary around the world. And there are some who fear the arrangement could become too Clintonian for comfort.

They worry that the spirit which infused Obama's campaign team - "Obama, not drama" - will be forfeited amidst the intrigue, machinations and plots which they characterise as the Clinton circus.

The concern is focused on Bill Clinton's philanthropic and business links and the potential for alleged conflicts of interest. The question is will Clinton's donors believe that if they can get to Bill they get to Hillary?

Since leaving the White House the former president has become an international fundraiser and fixer for multiple worthy causes from HIV-AIDS and poverty relief to global warming.

The William J Clinton Foundation
, including The Global Initiative, has raised over $46 billion from some 208,000 donors. Political entities like the Saudi Royals, with their $10 million plus, The United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, the King of Morocco and giant corporations like Coke, Pepsi, Kraft and the Virgin group have all been eager to associate themselves with Clinton's good works.

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