Anyone who still wonders if Hillary Clinton will run for President in 2016 will have their doubts removed after reading this book. It reeks of intent to do so despite losing out to Obama in 2008. In September this year it is widely rumoured she will be in Idaho to test the water for 1916-she was trounced there last time.
Hillary's great grandfather, Jonathan lived in England and worked in the Northumberland coal mines. He left for America in 1879 ending up in Pennsylvania. In 1900 he became a policeman, married with 11 children, among them Hillary's grandfather, Hugh Rodham who later worked in a lace factory. The family were staunch Methodists. She was born in Chicago on October 26, 1947. Her father was a rather unpleasant person. Hillary was devoted to her mother. She gained a law degree at Yale, taught at Arkansas law school where she met Bill whom she married in 1975. In the same year she thought about becoming a US Marine, but was rejected due to age and myopia. She had also toyed with the idea of applying to be trained as an astronaut!
This overlong account of her time as Secretary of State still fails to solve the key problem with Hillary namely, who is she and what does she really stand for? She has had so many makeovers all of which still leave one unsure if she is a left-wing liberal, a centrist or a whatever will win on the day politician. After many years as a liberal involved with child care, abortion and health issues she did an abrupt turn when made Senator for New York despite never having lived there. She made a play for leading Republicans in the Senate in order to get legislation passed. For years now she has been engaged in a peripatetic rebuilding and rebranding campaign.
While Secretary, Bill has been hard at work building the political network and acquiring allies in big business for 2016. The many faces of Hillary continue, however, to give voters a problem. The woman, the wife, the lawyer, the feminist, the ex senator, and the aspiring president. Which is the real Hillary Rodham? What is her real political philosophy and where does she stand on the key issues of the day? Does she believe government is the answer or, like Reagan said, the problem? This book does not provide the answer. It confirms she is an opportunist.
She attracts extreme opinions for very good reasons: for some she is, an unprincipled opportunist(see her posing with Hollande in Paris with a copy of her book held in her hand, title to the front !), for others a warm hearted feminist, and for others an ice cold politician. More intelligent than her disgraced errant husband she lacks his empathy with people. In this respect only, she reminds one of two current, prominent female politicians in this country. Two years ago the American press were referring to her as 'America's Margaret Thatcher', a very odd comparison.
Opening chapters in the book are familiar to anyone who has read accounts by American politicians. We are told, for example, how she loves her country, loves God, and is honoured and humbled to have been in high office-it is difficult to imagine Hillary ever being humble. Her staff were all marvelous with lazer-like intellects(how come then the many errors?). We learn about the millions of miles she travelled as S of S, and how she erred in voting for the invasion of Iraq, an invasion based on the lies of Bush and Blair that led to thousands of deaths and maimed plus sectarian murder and chaos that will continue for many years. The gaffe over Bendhazi, despite repeated warnings, that led to the death of the US Ambassador is, of course, skated over.It was an unmitigated disaster that should have led to her sacking. Her attempt to persuade Obama to aid and arm the Syrian 'rebels' was thankfully unsucessful, she clearly did not know they are every bit as bad as Assad. It would have been disastrous as subsequent events have shown. Recently released papers show the depths of her failures as S of S. She never, of course, mentions these.
Bill, of course, gets many a mention not for his utterly appalling serial and rampant philandering that came close to bringing America to its knees, but for'his incredible support'. Her decision to stay with him despite his serial adultery, some of it commited in the Oval Office, shocked many Americans. A few thought it was because she wished to save an otherwise good marriage, while more then and since firmly believe it was because the marriage was rocky anyway, and she saw him as a means of furthering her political ambitions.
We are not told, that, despite his appalling behaviour, Bill, who looks gaunt and aged,has earned over 90 million dollars on the lecture circuit - £400,000 a time for a speeech of 40 minutes-yes £400,000!, (why people will pay ludicrous, vast sums to hear ex presidents and prime ministers regale them with how they saved the world is a mystery. They really have nothing worthwhile to say. If only honesty would occasionally seep through, for example the errors they made and the lies they told. George Burns said he went to count the embellishments of the truth before he fell asleep), or about her previous massive book earnings, and recent talks that alone have brought in well over 4.5 million dollars. Some may remember she told the world that she and Bill left the White House 'without a penny', indeed heavily in debt. More lies.
Of course,their understanding of debt would not be quite the same as that of the thousands of struggling poor in America. Also we now know that this debt was underwritten by a very close friend. Hillary like dear Bill has problems with the truth. Indeed at times she is almost in Tony Blair's league in this respect. As I write, she has admitted that to say they were heavily in debt was 'exaggerated'. Yet another example of a sea change when challenged. In the same interview she agreed that she earned around'$200,000 a talk'. Bill she said 'recently earned $1 million in ONE WEEK doing lectures' ( see above). The truth is they are mega rich. Her opponents will use this, plus the many lies, to attack her.
The book is replete with 'awesome people'. Unlike the recent book by Robert Gates which revealed what really goes on in government, warts and all, and the insightful volumes by Henry Kissinger, there is nothing here that is critical of anything or anyone, apart, of course, from Putin (yet another example of milking the moment). Those other books were rawly candid while this is a keep your options open book. It is a dull book that lacks critical energy, and above all, honesty.
It also smacks of much 'ghost writing'. She has been very evasive about the degree to which she had help to write this account. There is a strong suspicion that a committee was used to write it. Certainly, it is very hard to believe her account that she spent 15 months writing this in her apartment in New York. Whoever is responsible, the style is best described as gush gush. In addition, ten words are invariably used where two would suffice. An article in a woman's magazine perhaps, a 600 page book by a politician no.
Here are some examples. Talking of David Milband: 'He caused me to gulp and smile simultaneously when he said......'. Guess what David said :'Yours is a Herculean job, but I think you're the right Hercules for this job'. No doubt this is why the Clintons helped David to get his well-paid job in the US. A job by the way it is said he is doing badly.
Here is another gem. She describes Hague's speech at an Embassy dinner and tells us 'it left me in awe'. How come? Because Hague quoted from Lord Salisbury about diplomacy! She says he was 'the David Beckham of toasting'. He also happens to be one of the weakest foreign secretaries this country has had in recent years. Thank goodness he is retiring from politics in 2015. Parading around with a third rate actress while Iraq and much of the Middle East burns demonstrates a man who has no sense of what really matters. Go William, the sooner the better.
We mustn't forget either how Sarkozy helped Hillary to find her shoe while in Paris. She told him he was:'her Prince Charming'. It couldn't get worse, you have to keep pinching yourself to remember these remarks are made by a former Secretary of State of the most powerful country on earth, and not by some impressionable star-struck teenager. There are times when she gives the impression she thinks she is a femme fatale instead of a woman in her late sixties and soon to be a grandmother.
Despite the rigours of her job, she, amazingly, nevertheless, still found time to help plan Chelsea's wedding and choose her wedding dress.
Her daughter's wedding to a Jew-a millionaire Jew of course-witnessed yet another sea change in mother's views, views that for years had been very pro PLO. Suddenly, these were softened and kind remarks began to flow about Israel! Clelsea by the way, prior to her wedding, was living in a $6 million apartment. Chelsea now cashes in on her name, and earns $75,000 a speech. In addition, she has earned over $600,000 a year as a TV journalist. The Clintons certainly have to struggle financially.
She paints a picture of foreign policy that is commonplace; it is we are told tiring, complex and hard. There is very little evidence of visionary zeal. Throughout, it is clear she is desperate not too offend. Whenever her policy recommendations are overuled by Obama, for example on Syria, the President is always right. We never learn the details of her proposals. Her claim that she brought Iran to the negotiating table has already been described by several players as somewhat 'exaggerated'. We are never told the reality, namely the infighting, the battles with Congress and the rows with allies. There is no mention either of how the financial and other scandals that surrounded her while in Arkansas with Bill have never gone away, and will clearly play an important role in 2016.
The book claims to be about Hillary Rodham Clinton's time as S of S, how she dealt with crises, choices and challenges. In reality it tells us nothing remotely new. It has all the subtlety of a planned military operation getting ready to go. She is reasonably bright, hard working, intense, and insists on detail;in brief, a policy wonk. She communicates with her mind, Bill with his heart. That is why they are a formidable political team as long as you ignore the numerous warts and dubious dealings.
This book is an improvement on her 'Living History', but only just. It is in part an attempt to bolster America's image, but even more it is a transparent attempt to prepare the ground for the fight ahead in 2016. It is one she will almost certainly lose. People have long memories and will not forget the many tawdry issues that have been associated with her over the years. She could help her cause if she stopped being photographed with mouth agabe and eyes popplng. This, plus pink or yellow pant suits, is too much Hillary.
By the way, contrary to what is often said she is not by a long way the first woman to run for President. She will be the first First Lady, and the first postgraduate, to do so.
An easy read that could and should have been severely pruned by at least 100 pages. Those unfamiliar with American politics will be no wiser after reading this dull as ditch water account by a hard-nosed politician who will be considerably richer, by a minmum of $14 million, for having helped to write it. Unfortunately, it is clear from many reviews that those with little or no detailed knowledge of American politics, politics that make ours look like a kindergarten by comparison, have had the wool pulled over their eyes, and how! It is astonishing to many, many Americans how anyone, mainly women, can have anything other than contempt for her husband.
Hillary is an astute politician. She is not a saint, nor is she Joan, or Antigone or Lady Macbeth, although she has played each role effectively. Her ambition is, as far as one can tell, to make the world accept her liberation, theological and radical feminist views. She is good at masking her true feelings as this book demonstrates. She is a master manipulator of the media. Only if you study what she said last year and the year before can you see behind the mask. Coy soft words are belied by harsh deeds. For many she remains an enigma. Her role, for example, in the downfall of Nixon is still not known by many. It was not something you would brag about.
The key problem with Hillary is her lack of constancy. She tailors her beliefs in accordance with the prevailing political wind. A classic example of this is her sudden and late conversion to the cause of gay marriage once opinion polls showed she was backing the wrong horse.This is not what America or the world want in the White House. They have had enough ineffective Presidents.
Her final memo to Obama advised him how to treat Putin. It reads like a 5th grade primer. One could never imagine such a memo emanating from Kissinger or any of Clinton's immediate predecessors. A 69 year-old spouting this kind of nonsense in 2016 is not going to galvanise the world. There is also the question of her health. Reports, unconfirmed, indicate this could be a serious issue come 2016. A win would of course mean another dual Clinton presidency. Oh dear!
As Edward Klein has shown in his newly published book, there is no love lost between the Obamas and Clintons. He claims there is a 'blood feud', and that Michelle refers to Hillary as 'Hilderbeest'. I wonder why?
Let the last words be those by Dick Morris in his memoirs;
'Like the moon Hillary only shines or receives affection, when her husband is most luminous. She seems most brilliant when Saturday-night Bill has strayed, gotten caught, and needs his wife to rescue him'.
A transparent, self-serving account to prepare one for the campaign in 2016. Recommended for those who enjoy fairy stories. This one, however, will not have a happy ending for Cinderella. America has had to endure some dreadful presidents, it and the world does not want another one in 2016, certainly not one like Hillary Clinton.
PS She was recently paid $235,000 for a 40 minute talk at an American second tier university! They say you can't fool people!
Two new books just out in the States. Saw heavy sales in many stores on recent visit. Both allege Bill is up to his old tricks again. Few will be surprised.