The Truth about Hillary: What She Knew, When She Knew It, and How Far She'll Go to Become President

Edward Klein, Author Penguin/Sentinel $24.95 (305p) ISBN 978-1-59523-006-5
Reading this book - instead of just the pre-pub discussion around it - makes one thing perfectly clear: it will not, as has been hoped or feared, do for any Clinton presidential campaign what Unfit For Command did for the Kerry one. This clip+paste job by a former editor of the New York Times magazine is unlikely to change a single mind, let alone vote - to paraphrase the political commentator, conservative Tucker Carlson, readers who already hate lightning-rod Clinton know why they hate her. Those who like her won't find their minds changed by any of the ersatz revelations in this ultimately uninteresting book. Klein, also the author of several books about the Kennedys, conducted some live interviews for this one, but he also borrowed liberally (pun intended) from dozens of published books and articles. What ""news"" he turns up is too minor to make even Entertainment Tonight: the former First Lady drinks decaffeinated coffee, likes to sleep late in the morning (unlike her early-riser husband), and is self conscious about her thick legs. Oh, and as a Wellesley student in the 1970s, she had lesbian friends and didn't shave her legs or underarms. contKlein seems intent on rehashing the rehash in this too-boring-to-even-be-execrable title. While glossing over such provocative - and substantive - Clinton issues as Whitewater, Travel-gate and Vince Foster's suicide, he concentrates nearly half of his 250 pages on - you guessed it - Monica Lewinsky. His central point: Hillary wasn't surprised, as she wrote in her memoir Living History, by an early morning confession from Bill about Monica. She had in fact known about the president's chronic womanizing - and Monica specifically - for some time. Her ""wronged wife"" act was just that: spin to garner sympathy for her own political ends. It's certainly true that Hillary came through the Monica mess as a more sympathetic character to many voters, but I don't remember Clinton so much as cultivating a wronged wife image as having one thrust upon her by the media. And in any case, who cares? There's no doubt that the Lewinsky affair was embarrassing and hurtful to the then-First Lady; she neither created nor enjoyed it. Besides, who hasn't put a different face on painful personal behavior that somehow went public? Another of Klein's points is that Hillary is ambitious - and that in her quest for power, she has put off lots of people including, he says, the revered late New York senator, Daniel Patrick Moynihan and his campaign manager wife, Liz. (Moynihan's daughter has denied any problems in her parents' relationship with the senator.) Again, the word that comes to mind is ""Duh."" I'd be tempted to pull out that old saw about how if Clinton were a man, ""ambitious"" would be a compliment, but since she's a woman, it's a synonym for that word that rhymes with ""rich."" I'd do that, but that would be too Klein-ian of me: superficial, clich\xE9d, and gender obsessed. But maybe I'm wrong about one thing: Perhaps The Truth will change some votes. After reading it, those who've been tepid about the senator might indeed rally around her. After all, Klein makes it clear that any time someone tries to humiliate her publicly, she somehow manages to come out on top.
Reviewed on: 07/04/2005
Release date: 07/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
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