The Book(s) on Hillary

Posted: May 30, 2007 8:55 AM
The Book(s) on Hillary

Two new books about Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton are to be released next week - timed to coincide with the Democratic candidates' debate in New Hampshire.

One book is by Carl Bernstein formerly of the Washington Post (and Watergate) fame. It is titled: "A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton."

The other is by a pair of reporters for the New York Times, Jeff Gerth (former) and Don Van Natta, Jr. (current) entitled: "Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton."

Behind the two lengthy titles are two lengthy books. Bernstein's is 628 pages; the Gerth/Van Natta version is 416 - a total of 1,144 pages of Hillary Rodham Clinton.


Yesterday morning, on Fox & Friends, the two Clinton books were one of the subjects that Jane Fleming Kleeb and I debated with Steve Doocy.

Ms. Fleming Kleeb held that there was nothing new in these books and no one's mind would be changed as the result of them.

Inasmuch as they haven't even been released yet, I was at a loss to understand how Jane could be certain there was nothing new in the books, but that's Spin 101 in the Clintonian world: Break it up. Nothing to see here. Go on home.

There will be nothing new as to Clinton being a manipulative, bullying, insecure, angry, lying woman. And that's not me talking. According to the Editor & Publisher review of the Bernstein book he writes "Hillary Rodham Clinton has always had a difficult relationship with the truth…"

At one point Hillary Clinton wanted the White House staff to go to war with the Washington Post. She ordered a complete analysis of coverage which would clearly demonstrate all the errors they had made.

A team spent 10 days assembling a "dossier" of Post mistakes but the calmer heads prevailed and the plot was dropped. This, according an unnamed source in the book "was an example of Clinton's ability to organize people for a big fight, but in terms of how to respond 'her instincts are just awful.'"

Anyone but me think that phrase: "her instincts are just awful" is going to end up in an anti-Hillary ad?

According to the Washington Post, the Gerth and Van Natta book "suggests that Hillary Clinton did not read the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq in 2002 before voting to authorize war."

Clinton's office weakly responded to the Post that she had been "briefed multiple times by several members of the administration on their intelligence regarding Iraq, including being briefed on the NIE," which is not likely to make her visits to luncheonettes and living rooms in Iowa and New Hampshire any more comfortable when the discussion turns to the Iraq vote.

I will not read either one of these books because of the Mullings Rule on Non-Fiction which states in total: "It has to have a lot of pictures or I have to be in it."

Nevertheless, the books will remind everyone of Whitewater, the Rose Law Firm, the missing billing records, Bill's girlfriends and all the old muck with which we were so familiar back in the day. This cannot be good for the Clinton campaign.

Here's where the discussion ended up yesterday morning on Fox: Jane said that no one's mind would be changed by these books - people who liked Clinton will still like her; people who didn't like her will still not like her.

I agreed with her (a rhetorical trick which can be used to great effect to disarm an opponent in a 4-minute TV segment) but added that is the campaign's problem with these books.

Hillary Clinton is stuck in the polls in the low- to mid-thirties meaning up to 70% of Democrats are looking for someone other than Hillary Clinton to be their nominee.

Polls consistently show Clinton's favorable/unfavorable ratings at about 50-50. In the Gallup poll taken earlier this month, only three percent of respondents had no opinion about Clinton.

The Clinton campaign needs people to change their minds.

If these books only serve to harden previously held opinions, they will be big books, spelling big trouble.