A "USA Today" survey reveals perhaps the most interesting reaction on the frenzied week of pablum publicity surrounding Hillary Clinton's book Living History. Despite all the fawning and fainting spells en masse by the national media, a majority of Americans are not impressed. More than one in five respondents says the book belongs in the fiction section, and a full 56 percent say they think Mrs. Clinton is lying when she claims, notwithstanding seven months of revelations about it, she did not believe in the Monica Lewinsky affair -- until her husband fessed up.
In other words, America believes Hillary is a liar. Again. No one in the pro-Clinton press will say this, of course. Instead, we'll read and hear them telling us she's a "polarizing figure." What they should be saying is that in political terms, she's nuclear waste, and the half-life on this damage is not brief.
While everyone in the press hypes Hillary as promising presidential material, no one treats her that way. They are just not going to parse her every sentence for accuracy and tone. No one in the press even lifted an eyebrow at the "Author's Note" which begins the book with these words: "In 1958, I wrote my autobiography for an assignment in sixth grade. In 29 pages ... " In 29 pages? Even at 12, Hillary's ego was running amok.
So why has Living History turned so many against her? Perhaps its because this 528-page book should have addressed and answered the alphabet soup of scandals she and her husband left as their legacy -- and instead, she ignored them again. Did she hire Craig Livingston, the goon who collected the raw FBI files of political opponents, or not? Why, after a lengthy absence, were the subpoenaed Rose Law Firm billing records mysteriously located in her area of the White House residence? (By the way, Carolyn Huber, the aide who found the Rose papers, is thanked by Hillary in the book for her "invaluable assistance" in getting the book finished.) How did she make $100,000 on a $1,000 investment? Who whispered in her ear? (And if that's not important, please explain the logic to Martha Stewart.) These "never-ending" scandals could be ended with a simple, candid answer from Mrs. Clinton.
Her failure to answer them speaks volumes about her. And the media's failure to focus on this outrage speaks volumes about them.
Millions of Americans scoff in disgust when the media prattle on about how she symbolizes the struggles of Everywoman, or suffers valiantly as a Rorschach test for the nation's gender anxieties. They simply know her, as William Safire once described, as a "congenital liar."
Not only does Living History fail to add to history, it tries to subtract from it. In the spring of 1992, the news emerged that Bill Clinton received a draft notice, and plotted with college buddies to get around it. But on page 240, our ever-spinning author renews the lie: "I knew that Bill respected military service, that he would have served if he had been called." In fact, they did call, and Bill failed to answer. Worse than that, he wrote pompously to the local ROTC commander championing "so many fine people" who were "loving their country but loathing the military."
Instead of fielding challenging questions about her actions or her writings, the transplanted New Yorker receives nothing but wet kisses, like this one from Katie Couric about the health-care debacle: "But were you surprised at the backlash? The really vitriolic, violent backlash against you in many ways? Do you think it was good old-fashioned sexism?"
On his late-night PBS talk show, Charlie Rose waxed sympathetically about her personal growth, as if Hillary emerged like a beautiful butterfly from the chrysalis of the Clinton White House. "But you made a decision, because of your affection, love for him, to go to Arkansas where he wanted to pursue his dream. You gave up some independence because there was a higher value ... Now, here in a sense it's come full circle for you ... it seems to be the emergence to me of a new independence for you since you're on your own."
The Washington Post suggested why all the TV stars doted on her personal triumphs. When they prepared a story on her book's political ranting and raving against Kenneth Starr and other conservative enemies, "the author ... declined to be interviewed about the political content of her book." Now that's coming full circle: The poor female genius who was supposedly hated for sticking her nose into politics is now telling her media enablers to lay off the politics and stick to the sappy personal stuff.
Run, Hillary, run. This must be Karl Rove's nightly prayer.