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Posted: 6/28/2002 2:37:13 PM EDT
STROBE SLAPS CLINTON IN BOOK; BUSH 'BETTER-GROUNDED' Fri Jun 28 2002 11:27:24 ET Former Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott was "disturbed by" former President Clinton's "indulgence of [former Russian President Boris] Yeltsin's misbehavior." In his memoir, THE RUSSIA HAND, Talbott also claims Bush is "a better-grounded character than Clinton." A savvy insider's account of the diplomatic twists and turns of U.S.-Russia relations in the '90s, Talbott's anecdote-stuffed book will "fascinate anyone with an interest in the personal dynamics of statecraft," BUSINESS WEEK reports in fresh editions. MORE Talbott "sees Clinton and Yeltsin as a curious and rather worrisome pair of psychological twins. After all, both dipsomaniac Yeltsin and alley cat Clinton could be said to be in thrall to obsessions that occasionally sent them reeling. 'I suspected there was more to his affinity with Yeltsin than being approximately the same height and shape and shoe size, or being the leaders of two countries that could blow up the world, or being fellow politicians who had to contend with obstreperous legislatures and hostile media,' Talbott observes. "The key, as I saw it, might be that Yeltsin combined prodigious determination and fortitude with grotesque indiscipline and a kind of genius for self-abasement. He was both a very big man and a very bad boy, a natural leader and an incurable screwup. All this Clinton recognized, found easy to forgive, and wanted others to join him in forgiving.'" BUSINESS WEEK adds, "The question is whether Clinton forgave too much." Talbott, "by his own telling, was alert to the dangers of the oligarchs but saw no better alternative to continued White House backing for Yeltsin. But Clinton, even by his friend's charitable account, comes off as seriously deluded.'" BUSH BETTER-GROUNDED THAN CLINTON Clinton's successor, President George W. Bush, "has forged what appears to be a tight bond with" Russian President Vladimir Putin, "so Bush needs to take care that he himself doesn't become overly committed, as Putin clamps down on press freedom even while pursuing an economically liberal course. Talbott writes: "My guess is that Bush, a better-grounded character than Clinton, will do OK. Let's hope so: US-Russia relations are tough enough without the complication of psychologically handicapped leaders."
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