Back to Reviews

Which former president would you like to see in their undergarments in paper-doll form. Probably Taft, right, you sicko. Let us know on our message board.

Bill Clinton is surely one of the most intriguing and complex figures in modern American politics. A popular charismatic leader, Clinton's time as President of the United States was also constantly brimming with personal failings and scandal. Author Tom Tierney has attempted to capture and balance all aspects of this contradictory man in his book...

Bill Clinton and His Family Paper Dolls

Here, Tierney perfectly captures Clinton as most of us picture him in our mind's eye.
In this probing work, Tierney presents Clinton's immediate family (Bill, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, daughter Chelsea, and Bill's mother Virginia Clinton Kelley) in illustrated form as pleasant, smiling figures dressed only in their undergarments. Clearly, this bold move serves two purposes for Tierney. On the one hand, this is the author's harsh condemnation of the popular press and their tendency to hound public figures until they are fully revealed, stripped nearly naked before us. On the other hand, depicting the first family in this manner is also sure to remind us of the lewder aspects of the Clinton era.

Hillary Clinton, about to be attacked by Alice in Wonderland's wig.
It is unfortunate that Tierney chose to stop with just the four dolls presented in Bill Clinton and His Family Paper Dolls. Anyone who followed politics during the Clinton era could certainly suggest a few other interesting characters who would be a good fit for a revealing piece of this nature. Even if Tierney were to only add one more figure, his portrait of the Clinton presidency would be much fuller. I think we can all agree that the missing member of this cast is Secretary of Agriculture, Daniel R. Glickman.

Following the dressed-down first family, Tierney presents several pages of outfits that they have worn. There are few outfits for Chelsea and Virginia, but an endless assortment for the president and the first lady. At a cursury glance, this appears to be the author's condemnation of Clinton's almost pathological desire to be all things to all people, a man who will quite literally change himself to try to fit any occasion. However, readers will do well to remember that these outfits are meant to be removed from the page and placed on the paper figures. In the final analysis, Tierney accepts that a man as complex as Bill Clinton cannot ever be fully captured by any novelist/historian/paper doll illustrator. In the end, we each must "dress him" as we choose.

On the next few pages, we present a few selected excerpts from Bill Clinton and His Family Paper Dolls.