By: E&P Staff
The much-anticipated dueling biographies of Hillary Clinton are scheduled to be released next week. But after copies were leaked to reporters a few days ago, a flurry of action related to each took place on Tuesday.
Copies of Carl Bernstein’s book appeared in magazine offices in Manhattan (E&P’s preview follows). Later in the day, The New York Times, which is running a lengthy excerpt from the second book in its Sunday Magazine this week, pushed that article up on its Web site several days early.
That book, “Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton,” was written by Jeff Gerth, a former investigative reporter for The Times, and Don Van Natta Jr., a current investigative reporter for the paper. It will be published by Little, Brown.
The excerpt focuses on her vote backing the Iraq war resolution in 2002. “Clinton knew she could never advance her career ? or win the presidency, especially ? if she didn?t prove that she was tough enough to be commander in chief,” the authors write. “Female candidates, it?s presumed, have often suffered as a result of the stereotype that they could never be as strong as men. Now the defense of the homeland had become such a paramount issue that Americans insisted their president ? man or woman ? protect them from another terrorist attack.”
The much-awaited biography of Clinton by Carl Bernstein closes with the observation that the U.S. senator, former First Lady and current candidate for president, ?has continued to speak from the protective shell of her own making,? and in doing so, ?has misrepresented not just facts but often her essential self ?
?Almost always, Hillary has stood for good things. Yet there is a disconnect between her convictions and words, and her actions. That is where Hillary disappoints. But the jury is still out.?
E&P today received a copy of the 628-page book, ?A Woman in Charge,? which is to be published by Alfred A. Knopf next week. Bernstein, the famed Watergate reporter and author of several other books, lists nearly 100 interviews conducted for this one.
While Bernstein declares that Clinton is ?neither the demon of the right?s perception, nor a feminist saint,? critics of the senator from New York are sure to find plenty to bolster some of their views. Bernstein, for example, writes flatly, ?Since her Arkansas years, Hillary Rodham Clinton has always had a difficult relationship with the truth.? Yet he adds: ?She is hardly different from most conventional politicians in that regard.?
Bernstein quotes an unnamed former White House aide: ?I don?t know how anything in her life can be deep or honest because she?s tied herself in to stay with Bill. … So everything is seen from this kind of warped perspective, in a way. She can no longer be honest about what she actually feels, so it is hard to know if she?s being honest about what she says she thinks.?
The Lewinsky affair does not fully arrive in the book until nearly 500 pages into it. It includes nuggets such as: “In the past, Hillary and Betsey Wright had succeeded in silencing or undermining the claims of many of Bill Clinton’s women, and many who weren’t but claimed to be so.” And: “In spite of the fact she had been lied to, it took Hillary less than two days to correctly figure out how events would proceed.”
The book includes only a handful of pages covering her post-White House years.
— Bernstein suggests that future historians will come to describe the White House years of 1993-2000 as a ?co-presidency.?
— Hillary Clinton still contends that her vote in favor of the Iraq war resolution in 2002 was nothing but authorization for the president to work through the United Nations, and she claims Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice assured her on that. But Bush aides say Rice gave no such guarantee.
— In the midst of the Lewinsky scandal, the White House screened the movie “The Apostle” with its stars, Robert Duvall and Farrah Fawcett in attendance. The Clintons seemed to enjoy it enormously, “trying, with great difficulty to keep up appearances.”
— On Martha’s Vineyard, visiting novelist Williams Styron, Hillary raised the subject of seeking family counseling or Bill “getting counseling for his sexual compulsions.” Both Hillary and Bill also talked to Styron about right-wing attacks on them, most notably by prosecutor Kenneth Starr and the network of “that Pittsburgh nut,” Richard Mellon Scaife.
One fascinating, if minor episode, involves Hillary Clinton?s mid-1990s plan to ?systematically attack the Washington Post? because of its Whitewater coverage.
Bernstein quotes legal aide Mark Fabiani as revealing the idea of a campaign against the Post ?went fairly far down the road before some of us succeeded in stopping it.? Bernstein claims that Hillary told her aides: ?We have to figure out all the mistakes that the Post has made. We?re going to document it, and then publicizie it somehow or get a journalism review to write an article about it, or go to the Post editors and complain about [reporter] Sue Schmidt with this evidence, this dramatic evidence in hand.”
She called five aides to the White House, including Fabiani and George Stephanopoulos, and she allegedly then said: ?You can take it over and meet with [executive editor] Len Downie and … go through this, and then we can publicize it.?
Fabriani cautioned that she was overreacting — the Post?s shortcoming were probably more a matter of tone or placement — but she replied: “No, if you look at it, I’m sure it?s going to be true. Go ahead.?
Bernstein writes that for the next 10 days or so a team compiled a ?dossier? on the Post. Finally, ?the virtually unanimous opposition of the lawyers and Stephanopolous prevailed.?
One of the aides said that this 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.?