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The Faces of '96

'A Period of Introspection':

Dick Morris

December 27, 1996|ELIZABETH MEHREN

An inmate author does his best to save children from a life of crime.

An actress struggles to regain her life and livelihood after losing both legs in a crash.

The wife of a socially prominent attorney leaves her husband and children to marry a convicted murderer.

A wife-attorney defends her White House advisor-husband after he is photographed in the arms of another woman.

You met these remarkable people on the pages of Life & Style in 1996. Our writers and photographers took you into their worlds for a moment, to ponder their dilemmas and learn about what makes them tick.

And then, because the news is the news, they vanished from our view.

But their stories did not end once you had read about them. Here, we catch up with several of 1996's most memorable people.

*

With lightning speed, disgraced ex-White House advisor Dick Morris has turned in a draft of a book about the presidency that his publisher, Random House, is doing handstands over. (And well the publisher should shout for joy, having ponied up an advance of $2.5 million.)

The 140,000-word draft of "Behind the Oval Office: Winning the Presidency in the '90s" was completed in just 25 days, a stunning monument to literary celebrity.

Soon after completing the manuscript about his behind-the-scenes role in President Clinton's reelection, Morris told an interviewer from CNN that writing the book was "my therapy. As a damaged, flawed and in many ways weak individual, to have gone through this and to have let this happen, I needed that period of introspection--not just with a psychiatrist, but with my computer too." (And speaking of therapy, asked in the same interview if he had sought "some professional advice," Morris replied, "Yes.")

To name the book, Morris summoned his skills as a pollster, contracting with an interviewing firm to survey 700 Americans on their preferences among 21 possible title choices. The final selection turned out to have been the suggestion of Random House's Midwestern regional sales manager, someone who presumably knows something about what plays in Peoria.

The 48-year-old Morris was chief strategist for Clinton until the last day of the Democratic convention in August, when the Star printed a report saying Morris had a yearlong relationship with a Washington prostitute, who had listened in on important telephone calls and to whom he had confided White House secrets.

The Star's account of Morris' relationship with Sherry Rowlands included photographs of Morris in a terry-cloth bathrobe from the Jefferson Hotel, where the two shared a room, and where Rowlands' Yorkshire terrier joined them on at least one occasion.

Morris never denied his association with Rowlands, and in the wake of the flap surrounding his resignation, his wife, Connecticut attorney Eileen McGann, leaped into the fray to defend her husband as well as their marriage. McGann took the unusual step of declaring her support for her husband on the pages of Time magazine. To date, their marriage remains legally intact.

Since his abrupt departure from the White House inner sanctum, Morris has spent most of his time working on his book. He also ventured briefly into the groves of academe, delivering a lecture to a political science class at New York University on the virtues of political consultants.

"I think what we as an industry are doing, and I as an individual have tried to do, is to try to find a way to help an American official, or candidate, lead people in a democracy," Morris told students enrolled in a class called Power and Politics in America. "A lot of people say that polling or political consulting is a bad thing, corrupting the political process, leading it in the wrong direction. I don't think that's true."

Trailing behind Morris as he delivered these dumplings of political wisdom were a public relations consultant and a film crew from the ABC television show "PrimeTime Live."

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