Joe Klein thinks Bill Clinton got a bad deal.
"Bill Clinton was a scapegoat for the baby boomers," the acclaimed journalist and author said.
Klein returned to Penn last night to talk about politics and the future before a crowd of 100 students in Houston Hall's Hall of Flags, the same room where he ate his meals as a College freshman.
Klein graduated from Penn in 1968 and is most noted as the author of Primary Colors, a thinly-disguised book about Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential primary campaign that was turned into a film starring John Trovolta.
Klein was quick to note the irony of the location of yesterday's event.
"Thirty-eight years since I ate crappy food in this room, I want to say that my most fervent wish is that your generation is more successful than mine," Klein said.
The event was sponsored by the Philomathean Society, which brings a speaker to campus every spring. The literary society has been at Penn since 1813 and is based on beliefs of freedom of thought and expression.
"We pride ourselves on bringing academic interests to campus," said Philo moderator Andrew Trister, an Engineering senior.
By bringing Klein to Penn, Philo opened the door for a two-hour lecture on the political thoughts of a man who has been in journalism for the past seven presidencies.
As a self-described baby boomer, Klein feels the closest connection to the Clinton administration, which is the subject of his latest bestseller, The Natural: The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton, a fictional account of the 1992 election.
Klein has mixed views on the actions of Clinton during his time in office, but he said he feels the media dealt with the former president's sexual actions unfairly.
And Klein was quick to blame the media for the scandal involving Monica Lewinsky.
"By the end of the year, the press was held in lower esteem than the lawyers," Klein said. "To journalists, political character involves sex, but I stand before you pro peccadillo."
Klein had even more passionate remarks about the actions of Clinton's administration. He praised the president's domestic affairs, while degrading his foreign policy decisions.
Throughout his remarks, Klein continually stressed Clinton's bravery in making strong political decisions that did not necessarily reflect the views of his party.
"Bill Clinton, time and time again, took positions that I feel to be courageous," Klein said.
A great deal of Klein's comments focused on his belief in the urgency in the next generation. Klein was very critical of baby boomers and blamed the cynicism of his contemporaries for the harsh feelings between the media and politicians.
"Cynicism is what passes for insight among the mediocre," Klein said.
College freshman Steve Schultz said he was moved by Klein's words.
"I understand his apologetic perspective, and his message to our generation was inspirational," Schultz said.
Klein was not entirely pessimistic, though, as he concluded his remarks by taking a step back from his work and explaining what drives him to continue working as a journalist after such a storied career.
"I do it for moments when they surprise and delight me," Klein said.
Much of the audience stayed after the speech to get books signed and talk to the author.
"I didn't expect him to appeal to the generation," College sophomore Evan Smith said. "He's a provocative author with an influential voice."Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.