Making a case against the Clintons

Catching Up With ... Jason Fodeman

Young author still angry about impact of last presidency

May 30, 2004|By Jennifer Lehman | Jennifer Lehman,SUN STAFF

It's been almost three years since Jason Fodeman first sat down to begin writing a book to express his outrage at the moral impact of the Clinton era in Washington on American youths like himself.

Since then, of course, another president has been defining America's moral agenda, and Fodeman has grown from a precocious high schooler to a 20-year-old pre-med economics major and senior-to-be at the Johns Hopkins University.

But the book that resulted last year, How to Destroy a Village: What the Clintons Taught a 17-Year-Old, continues to open doors for the young author, who has made appearances on MSNBC, C-SPAN and Rush Limbaugh's radio talk show.

Most recently, Fodeman received a $5,000 Ronald Reagan Future Leaders Scholarship from the Phillips Foundation, a conservative nonprofit organization. The scholarships, which range in value from $1,000 to $7,500, go to college undergraduates "who demonstrate leadership on behalf of the cause of freedom, American values and constitutional principles."

"I was just looking around for scholarships to apply to, and I happened to see this one," he says. "I've heard of the Phillips Foundation and obviously I've heard of Ronald Reagan, and it was for $5,000, which is a decent amount of change."

Fodeman, who hopes to become a pediatrician, sees a clear link between his interests in politics and medicine.

"I care about kids, but not just for their physical health - but also their psychological health," he says.

In his book, which was released last May, Fodeman takes an unapologetically partisan view as he focuses on what he sees as Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton's impact on American values and morals. (The title itself is a swipe at Sen. Hillary Clinton's book, It Takes a Village.) It was not just the former president's troubles, from Whitewater to Monica Lewinsky, but the way legislators and the judicial system dealt with them that has influenced today's youth, Fodeman believes.

It has been almost a full presidential term since the Clintons have lived in the White House. However, Fodeman believes the Clintons' legacy, particularly that of the former president, continues to have an impact, in areas such as cheating in school and sexual promiscuity.

"Absolutely this is an issue," he says. "The seeds were planted, and this will continue." He compares that impact to the effect violent video games have on children. Had Clinton been more severely reprimanded, Fodeman believes, the outcome might have been different.

"Follow the leader isn't just a game," he says. "Doing what the leader [Clinton] did has become more of a lifestyle."

The book took Fodeman a year to write. It took another year for Frederick-based PublishAmerica (publishamerica. com) to release it.

"It takes a lot of time and energy to write the book. Finding a publisher is very hard," Fodeman says. "When you are young and writing on issues such as politics, it is hard to be taken seriously. I was rejected a lot along the way."

Miranda Prather, editorial director for PublishAmerica, says Fodeman's book went through a thorough review process. The publisher found the book to be not only well-written, but also well-researched.

"Too many times with nonfiction titles we see authors who speak only from their own point of reference," Prather says. "Mr. Fodeman, though young, had taken his beliefs, researched them further and researched the opposition."

While some conservative pundits such as Limbaugh have praised Fodeman's book, other readers have been less enthusiastic. Critical reviews on described it as "a piece of Republican paraphernalia more than an insightful text," and suggested "This book must have been sponsored by Fox News."

A major factor in the book's release last year, Prather explained, was coincident release of Hillary Clinton's memoir, Living History.

"With the release of her book, the topic of the Clinton presidency was again brought into the public light. Mr. Fodeman's book offered a nice counterpoint to the discussion that made it highly marketable," she says, though she's not specific about sales figures.

Now, with President Clinton's much-anticipated memoir, My Life, due out next month, and the current presidential race heating up, Fodeman's book could get another round of attention.

About the outcome of that election, Fodeman has few doubts. As strongly as he dislikes Clinton, he supports President George W. Bush, who he says will prevail over Sen. John Kerry because of his first-term record.

"I think a lot of it has to do with terrorism and how he has a strong understanding that in a post-9/11 world, the rules of the world have changed," Fodeman says. "We can't wait until the terrorists attack us. We tried that once, and 3,000 Americans died. I think he's learned from the mistakes of our past."

Aside from his studies, Fodeman is a member of the Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity, an avid Ping-Pong player and a huge lacrosse fan.

Fodeman is not working on a book now; however, he will possibly write one in the future.

"Once Bill Clinton's book comes out, I'll probably try to do something," he says. "I think basically I'm trying to guess what revisionism he will be including in his book and I'm going to try and contradict it."

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