Empty heart of Hillary
By Barbara Amiel, Evening Standard
23 June 2003
The Hillary Clinton phenomenon is a mystery to me. She bounds from calamity to scandal only to emerge ever stronger. Elected Senator for New York State in 2000, she is now mooted as a presidential candidate. Her memoir, Living History, with its emphasis on her years in the White House, will be heavily promoted when she arrives here in Britain next week.
In fact, it is not a book at all but her business plan for gaining the highest office in the contemporary world. For those of us who find her speeches and writing disingenuous and full of cant, the book's unstated agenda makes her career trajectory doubly depressing.
It is as if we are living in the wrong world when a country as great as America can produce someone with so limited a mental landscape and yet - given Mrs Clinton's career record - entitled to some genuine expectation of landing that top job.
Her book is set in " Hillaryland", a place full of loyal, wonderful people - five pages of whom she thanks. It is the ambience here that enables her to want both to "wring the neck" of her adulterous husband and dedicate her book to him. When her life gets tough, Hillary Clinton has "healing times". She also "sobs" a lot.
She is surrounded by " wonderful, loyal staff and friends." She wants to "relieve the anguish of working people" and treat "her adversaries in life and politics with decency".
Wherever she looks there is a problem; when she tackles it, her message "resonates" and quite often "becomes a manifesto for women all over the world".
Mrs Clinton did not get an $8 million advance, however, to write only of high-minded matters. Her publishers expected her to give a bit on what really went on between her and her philandering husband as they careened through the Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky affairs - Kathleen Willey doesn't even rate a mention. Soapopera aficionados might also have hoped for a few more names of Clinton conquests.
As one of his close acquaintances who had wilted through the sexually frugal years of the Reagan and Bush Sr presidencies predicted happily to me after Clinton's election: "There's going to be a lot of pussy in Washington again."
Hillary's response to questions about her husband's infidelity shows the reticence of a vestal virgin. Such issues, she tells us, are in a "zone of privacy". The one interesting point she could make is never discussed: namely, that people have known from the first days of arranged marriages that continued sexual attraction and fidelity should not be the exclusive plank on which a marriage is built; that the Clintons developed some sort of arrangement or understanding as early as the 1970s that has allowed this partnership to function very well.
Given that Clinton's alleged womanising had been headline news for months, it is impossible to swallow Hillary's version that she knew nothing of these matters, she believed them to be the lies of his political enemies.
Hillary's great talent is to turn all to her advantage. It is not her fault that she has a husband who so publicly breaks his marriage vows but few people could make that into political capital, even in an age that so loves victims and survivors.
Everything, from her unearthly ability to make money in the fiendishly difficult commodities market to the nearly two-year-long inexplicable disappearance of her documents subpoenaed in the so-called "Travelgate" affair to her utter mishandling of health-care reform - the one official job she held under the Clinton presidency - seems only to have catapulted her ahead.
In America (unlike Europe), Bill Clinton has become a faded, almost pathetic figure. His wife seems to have drained the aura and power from him. How does she do it?
One can see that she is one of those interesting human beings who are more attractive when older than younger. This is not simply due to the advice of couturiers, fashion editors and dermatologists, though I dare say it has a lot to do with their skill and her ambitions.
The Hillary Clinton who ran for Senator had her hair blown dry every day without fail. Once elected she stopped that double-quick and reverted, rather winningly, to her frowsy look.
Napoleon used to say, when choosing a general for promotion, "Is he lucky?" Hillary is. It was "luck" that she ran against a helpless, inexperienced candidate in NY after Mayor Giuliani had to pull out of the race due to cancer.
People are swayed and impressed by a lucky person's success, though in assessing actual ability, luck and success may not be the best indicators.
On television or at a podium, Mrs Clinton is a winner. She can amass dozens of information points and link them together persuasively.
She cannot explain or justify her ideas a millimetre below that façade of surface knowledge, but she is rarely if ever asked to do so. Her notions are a mixture of half-digested, semi-socialist nonsense leavened with goody-goodness. Women need more rights. Children need more love - and legislation.
After spending time in South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Eritrea, Hillary writes that "No issue is more critical in Africa than stopping the ongoing conflicts - tribal, religious and national."
Few people writing about so unhappy a continent would dare pen quite so pedestrian a conclusion.
IN the end, one wonders what sort of a life does Hillary really have? She has been a fine mother but her daughter is now of age. She and her husband appear to pretty much go their own ways. In person, the attractive, animated face of this woman with the splendid laugh has a pair of dead calculating eyes.
One almost hopes that they conceal a clever Machiavellian mind, that behind this book and its author is a shrewd political operator and that underneath the political clichés there is a much more interesting person.
Surely, one thinks, in the privacy of her bedroom or talking to her closest friends, there is something more to her than she ever reveals? Can it be that one can achieve so much with nothing much more in her head than this?
One almost longs for a malevolent intelligence, but having said that, you turn the page and get the sinking feeling that maybe there just isn't anything else.
Does it bother anyone in the least that she didn't write any of it?
This recently released book written primarily by a ghost writer(s) on behalf of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton discusses her personal life, professional goals, and basic beliefs about government and its' role in American society. Because she was the spouse of a former President who took on a more active role in her husband's decision making regarding public policy, many of us are aware of her basic political and philosophical tenets, as the result of her public statements and deeds, as well as many books, memoirs, and interviews provided by former white house officials in recent years.
In the carefully crafted "Living History," Senator Clinton expands upon herself to the populace as a mere mortal, human being. Detailing some of the difficulties, challenges, and successes of her life as first lady. This piece, as we expected, is straightforward reader-friendly prose, that is targeted towards the general masses that comprise the mostly apolitical segment of the American public.
Using empathy, betrayal, introspection, shock, and hurt in an unscrupulous manner, this book is a great way for her to personalize and personify herself to the general public to gain empathy and feel compassion from the masses. She writes, "For me, the Lewinsky imbroglio seemed like just another vicious scandal manufactured by political opponents." More than six months later, with the president preparing to testify before a grand jury, Hillary Clinton was still adamant her husband had done nothing wrong and was the victim of a "vast right-wing conspiracy." She then adds, "He now realized he would have to testify that there had been an inappropriate intimacy. He told me that what happened between them had been brief and sporadic."
Is Hillary Rodham Clinton so naive, gullible, and ignorant? Here she paints herself as the victim. This is her brilliance.
These quotes have no relevance or inkling of unknown information to pique our interest. It's simply old and boring stuff. Yet it has been repeatedly blasted through radio airwaves, and television sets to the passively receptive American public. Does Hillary and the conglomerate media expect Americans to be in a state of catatonic awe, mouths gaping by these anecdotes? It only breeds more indolence by an apolitical, and mentally burned-out public.
One question readers should ask with "Living History," is....who really wrote this. the writer of this work was paid $100,000 dollars. And where and who is the person who really wrote this book? The real writer (ghost) interviews Hillary for a few hours in total, constructs and outline highlighting major ideas and themes, and then writes the book. At intervals the draft is handed back to Hillary to skim over, frame, touch up, re-frame. Other personalities do this, such as Rush Limbaugh and Bill Bennet. As long as the ghost writers and real researchers are given credit and their identities are revealed I have no problem with this. When they are kept secret from the public, I do have a problem with this, and we all should.
The old African proverb "It takes a village to raise a child," implicitly advocates higher taxes, social programs, and bureaucratic encroachment. Read this, at your own risk. Or should I say, at her's.
I love when conservatives get all worked up over Bill Clinton and Hillary. Really makes for lots of laughs.