Few people have read former president Bill Clinton's massive memoir ''My Life,'' which publisher Knopf is keeping tightly under wraps until its publication date on Tuesday, but Dan Rather knows what's in it, and he's not being shy about it. The CBS newsman spoke to several media outlets on Wednesday to give a preview of his hour-long interview with Clinton that airs Sunday on ''60 Minutes,'' which launches the televised leg of Clinton's promotional tour. Naturally, readers will want to know how candid Clinton is about the Monica Lewinsky scandal that led to his impeachment in 1999. Of his affair with the former White House intern, Clinton told Rather: ''I did something for the worst possible reason. Just because I could.'' He called the affair ''a terrible moral error'' which put him ''in the doghouse'' with wife Hillary Rodham Clinton for a year as she pondered whether they should save their marriage. As a result, the family underwent counseling for a year, Clinton said. ''We did it together. We did it individually,'' he said.
The affair also threatened to end Clinton's presidency, but he said of the impeachment imbroglio, ''I never thought of resigning and I stood up to it and beat it back.'' He added, ''The whole battle was a badge of honor. I don’t see it as a stain, because it was illegitimate,'' he said of the prosecution against him, which he called ''an abuse of power.''
Other possible surprises in the 957-page book: Clinton discusses his administration's failures in the Middle East, saying he regrets not convincing Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to accept a peace proposal, denying allegations that the administration had Osama bin Laden in its grasp before 9/11 but let him go (charges he calls ''bull''), and offering perhaps unexpected support of President George W. Bush's decision to use force to remove Iraq's Saddam Hussein from power.
To promote ''My Life,'' which is expected to be one of 2004's biggest bestsellers, Clinton will also appear next week on Oprah Winfrey's show, NBC's ''Today,'' and ABC's ''Good Morning America.'' He'll also answer readers' questions next Thursday in a live chat on AOL, which is sneak-previewing audio excerpts from the book, as read by Clinton, starting June 18.