Friday, July 13, 2007

Bernstein understands Hillary

From a New York Times review:

There are two new books about Hillary out there for our consideration:

In the last month and a half, three extremely well-respected journalists have come out with two books that attempt to divine who the real Hillary might be. One, Carl Bernstein’s “Woman in Charge,” is plainly sympathetic, while the other, Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr.’s “Her Way,” is more severe. (If there’s any doubt as to which is which, just consult the two book covers — Gerth and Van Natta’s shows Hillary in, quite literally, a much harsher light.)

The book covers are below:

Both go off the rails at the moments their grand unified theories can’t quite accommodate the facts, and both practically narcotize readers when they descend into rote recapitulations of the Clinton scandals.

But it’s Bernstein who ultimately makes the sharper, more lasting impression, despite the soft-focus portrait of the junior senator from New York on his cover. While he plows some of the same emotional terrain as previous Hillary biographers — notably Gail Sheehy in “Hillary’s Choice” — his book holds together as a piece of writing, and he keeps the psychobabble to a merciful minimum.

Bernstein is best known for his coverage of Watergate with Bob Woodward six administrations ago.

But his book suggests that it isn’t his executive-scandal bona fides that make him a qualified Hillary biographer; it’s his bona fides as a lousy husband.

Like Bill Clinton, Bernstein carried on a very public affair while married to a formidable, high-profile woman and one of the perverse strengths of his book is his intuitive understanding — a sinner’s lament, really — of what happens to a proud woman when she’s intimately betrayed and publicly humiliated.

The blockbuster news item to come out of Bernstein’s book was that Hillary contemplated running for governor of Arkansas in 1989, when she discovered her husband was thinking about abandoning his post and his family for another woman.

Read the rest of the article by Jennifer Senior.


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