Jonah Goldberg

Hillary Clinton's State Department memoir, "Hard Choices," has just come out, and who among us can contain their excitement?

Not Mike Allen, author of the incestuously insider Politico column "Playbook."

In Monday's installment, he began, "Welcome to Hillary Week!"

But the exclamation point was ironic, for Allen immediately dropped what he calls a "truth bomb": "'Hard Choices' is a newsless snore, written so carefully not to offend that it will fuel the notion that politics infuses every part of her life. In this book, like in 'The Lego Movie' theme song, everyone is awesome!"

Such truth bombs seem to be going off everywhere. In Slate magazine (hardly an anti-Clinton fever swamp), John Dickerson declares that "Clinton's account is the low-salt, low-fat, low-calorie offering with vanilla pudding as the dessert. She goes on at great length, but not great depth."

"It feels like a lively textbook," Dickerson adds, presumably to soften the blow.

The Washington Post ran an item on how much the book weighs: 2.4 pounds.

Have some sympathy for Clinton. She is an accomplished woman, but writing an exciting book about her unremarkable tenure as secretary of State would be hard enough. Doing so without throwing the president under the bus and telling other tales out of school is simply impossible.

This is because Clinton is not an exciting person. Yes, many people are excited about her, favorably and unfavorably. Yes, she is at the center of many hot cultural and political controversies. But beneath all that, she's a remarkably dull figure.

It's like Allen's ironic exclamation point. She's exciting because of the stuff that follows her around, and to the extent she is interesting at all, it is to see how she tries to manipulate her image to her benefit.

Clinton may be president one day, but she's already presidential in one sense: Her statements are never really taken at face value. Every utterance is examined for its ironic content and parsed like the rough draft of ad copy. What will people take away from this? What message is she sending to her fans? What spin is she offering to the media? What bait is she giving her enemies? How true is it?

The reason for this is that, unlike her husband, she's not very good at faking sincerity.

She told People magazine that she wrote the book herself by hand on paper, "in my little old Chappaqua farmhouse, in the attic where I hang out."

No doubt there's some truth to that, but it's been widely reported that her former aide, Ted Widmer, did the "heavy lifting" as her ghostwriter.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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