VANITY FAIR: Bill Clinton’s relevance—and his presence in public life—is as close to permanent as any politician’s can be. Before touching off a string of controversies in his wife’s campaign this year, he was among the most popular figures on the planet, one of only three Democratic presidents in the 20th century to serve two full terms. His looming presence will make him a factor in the Democratic vice-presidential sweepstakes, the fall campaign, and every future presidential election of his lifetime, whatever his wife’s fate.

I have covered Clinton on and off for 16 years, since his 1992 presidential campaign. I first really met him on NewClintonIdHitIt.jpg Year’s Eve 1994, when he shook my hand on the beach at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and let his eyes travel ever so subtly to the newly issued White House press pass hanging around my neck, so that he could know to say, “I’m glad you’re here, Todd.” As a White House correspondent for The New York Times for more than two years, I spent some part of almost every day watching, thinking about, worrying about, or writing about Clinton and his never-a-dull-moment presidency. I found it hard not to admire his roving intellect, his protean political talents, his outsize personality, and the tactical skill with which he eventually confronted the Republican congressional majority that bedeviled so much of his tenure. Clinton had no use for the string of pure and noble losers that had come to define the Democratic Party’s presidential prospects for so long. He wanted to win, and he knew how. (I should add, by way of disclosure, that my wife, Dee Dee Myers, was Clinton’s first press secretary. They have not been in regular contact since she left the White House, and she has not been a source for this article.)

DeeDeemyers.jpgTo know Clinton is, sooner or later, to be exasperated by his indiscipline and disappointed by his shortcomings. But through it all, it has been easy enough to retain an enduring admiration—even affection—for a president whose sins against decorum and the dignity of his office seemed venial in contrast to the systemic indifference, incompetence, corruption, and constitutional predations of his successor’s administration. That is, easy enough until now. MORE

HUFFINGTON POST: Former President Bill Clinton today unleashed a salty stream of epithets to describe former New York Times reporter and current Vanity Fair writer Todd Purdum, calling him “sleazy,” “dishonest,” “slimy” and a “scumbag.”

UPDATE: President Clinton’s spokesman Jay Carson issued a statement in response to this article: “President Clinton was understandably upset about an outrageously unfair article, but the language today was inappropriate and he wishes he had not used it.”

POSSIBLY RELATED: [Dee Dee] Myers holds the distinction of being the first woman to serve as White House Press Secretary, as well as being the second-youngest press secretary ever. However, she felt she was being treated unfairly on account of her gender. For instance, she revealed in her memoir that when sheHillary_Clinton_pres.jpg discovered that she had a lower salary than her predecessor, her request to have it raised appropriately was refused for budgetary reasons. When she pointed out that a certain male coworker in a position of less responsibility than herself was being paid more, they excused it as because he was older and had a family, which struck her as a disingenuous excuse for the favoritism. MORE

RELATED: Hillary Clinton has summoned top donors and backers to attend her New York speech tomorrow night in an unusual move that is being widely interpreted to mean she plans to suspend her campaign and endorse Barack Obama – if not that night, within a day or two.

UPDATE: WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton will concede Tuesday night that Barack Obama has the delegates to secure the Democratic nomination, campaign officials said, effectively ending her bid to be the nation’s first female president. Obama is 40 delegates shy of clinching the nomination, but he is widely expected to make up the difference Tuesday with superdelegate support and votes in South Dakota and Montana. Once he reaches the magic number of 2,118, Clinton will acknowledge that he has secured the necessary delegates to be the nominee. The former first lady will stop short of formally suspending or ending her race in her speech in New York City. MORE

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