Live

Watch CBSN Live

Examining Clinton Character

President Clinton's address to the nation Monday night, which alternated between apology and anger, is in line with the president's character and has its seeds in Mr. Clinton's childhood, according to author Stanley A. Renshon.
In his book High Hopes: The Clinton Presidency and The Politics of Ambition, Renshon examines the president's character on the basis of ambition, integrity, and ability to nteract with others.

"Most modern presidents are very ambitious, that includes Ronald Reagan, George Bush," Renshon told CBS 'This Morning' Co-Anchor Mark McEwen. "Ambition alone - and there is nothing wrong with ambition - won't tell you very much about presidents."

Ambition needs to be examined along with integrity, and that's where the president's character takes shape. "Bill Clinton is a man whose moral compass is stuck at self-interest," the author said.

Our Full Coverage
of this Ongoing Story
Mr. Clinton grew up in a household where "whatever you wanted to do and whatever you could get away with was quite all right.

"You could give lip service to values, but you were special and you were a person who didn't need to adhere to the rules that ordinary people do," Renshon said.

He described Mr. Clinton as "very smart and very able," and as someone who has gotten away with such behavior for a long time in many different circumstances. His unusual ability to get along well with others has helped him escape the consequences of such behavior, Renshon said.

As for the speech, in which the president admitted to an inappropriate relationship with Monica Lewinsky and denounced special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, Renshon said, "What we found was a man who was alternately angry and not very remorseful at all. I think it was, for a man that is politically astute, a tone-deaf performance."