Hillary Clinton: Please Don’t Actually Read My Book

 

Hillary-Clinton--Hard-Choices-jpgFrom Bret Stephens’s devastating review of Hard Choices, Hillary Clinton’s memoir of her years as secretary of state, in today’s Wall Street Journal:

[I]t’s not really a book at all. It is an artifact containing printed words, an event conveying political seriousness. Perhaps it could have been written at half its length (635 pages) with twice the interest. But that would have made it easier to read from start to finish, defeating its own purpose of being big and therefore, presumably, weighty. Ceci n’est pas une pipe, wrote (or painted) Rene Magritte. Just so with “Hard Choices”: Ceci n’est pas un livre…

Mrs. Clinton… doesn’t really have a story to tell. Her book is an assemblage of anecdotes, organized geographically, held together by no overarching theme, or underlying analysis, or ultimate accomplishment. In April she was asked to name her proudest achievements as secretary. She fumbled for an answer, as well she might. There are none.

If any among the Ricochetti has read — or, rather, skimmed, since the volume is unreadable — Hard Choices, would you let us know what you made of it?

There are 29 comments.

  1. Inactive

    I’ll let you know what I think after I find a yard sale copy. Can you wait a month?

    • #1
    • June 10, 2014 at 11:55 am
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  2. Member

    Right now it’s sitting under my tongue. I’m waiting for it to dissolve.

    • #2
    • June 10, 2014 at 11:59 am
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  3. Thatcher

    Why would I waste even one minute of my valuable time on it?

    • #3
    • June 10, 2014 at 12:07 pm
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  4. Coolidge

    Does she discuss at length her 5 minutes of poverty?

    • #4
    • June 10, 2014 at 12:19 pm
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  5. Member

    On Hugh Hewitt’s latest podcast of his radio show, he and his guests were picking pages at random and reading the first paragraph. It was hilarious radio; the most banal material imaginable, and nothing more than a catalog of her frequent flyer miles.
    LOLed at the description in the book of how the State Department fought air pollution in China … with website information and Twitter hashtags.

    • #5
    • June 10, 2014 at 12:35 pm
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  6. Inactive

    In a fit of masochism I bought the audiobook. Thus far, I have nothing to report.

    • #6
    • June 10, 2014 at 12:46 pm
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  7. Founder
    Peter Robinson Post author

    Salvatore Padula:

    In a fit of masochism I bought the audiobook. Thus far, I have nothing to report.

    Salvatore, you can’t do this to us! Listen to the darned thing, then let us know if it’s really that bad.

    • #7
    • June 10, 2014 at 2:00 pm
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  8. Founder
    Peter Robinson Post author

    The Mugwump:

    I’ll let you know what I think after I find a yard sale copy. Can you wait a month?

    You write like an angel, Mugwump. For you, I’d wait two months. But then, baby, I’ll expect some copy.

    • #8
    • June 10, 2014 at 2:02 pm
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  9. Founder
    Peter Robinson Post author

    Scott Abel (formerly EstoniaKat):

    On Hugh Hewitt’s latest podcast of his radio show, he and his guests were picking pages at random and reading the first paragraph. It was hilarious radio; the most banal material imaginable, and nothing more than a catalog of her frequent flyer miles. LOLed at the description in the book of how the State Department fought air pollution in China … with website information and Twitter hashtags.

     Ah, but this sounds hilarious. There really is no one like Hugh. He’s a brilliant lawyer, a superb political analyst–and a really and truly gifted showman.

    • #9
    • June 10, 2014 at 2:04 pm
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  10. Member

    I think that cover photo is the most awkward non-smile I’ve ever seen.

    • #10
    • June 10, 2014 at 2:05 pm
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  11. Member

    Salvatore Padula:

    In a fit of masochism I bought the audiobook. Thus far, I have nothing to report.

    Please tell us the identity of the audiobook reader. I need to know.

    It’s not read by the author, is it?!

    • #11
    • June 10, 2014 at 2:06 pm
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  12. Member

    MORE_HILLARY_MEMOIRES

    Still working my way through her earlier works.

    • #12
    • June 10, 2014 at 2:40 pm
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  13. Member

    One of my best friends is an accomplished writer who has been successful under his own name but has also been paid advances of up to one million dollars for ghost writing celebrity memoirs. He was hired to write a Michael Bloomberg memoir but after several months of work he canceled the project. He said all he ever got from Bloomberg were banal platitudes that could not be constructed into any sort of interesting narrative. Sounds like Hard Choices.

    • #13
    • June 10, 2014 at 3:00 pm
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  14. Member

    Salvatore Padula:

    In a fit of masochism I bought the audiobook. Thus far, I have nothing to report.

     Not the one read by the author, pray tell? Hugh played excerpts that were so painful to listen to– she’s monotonic and pronounces every syllable of every word like a robot — I fear we’d have to send a rescue mission to keep you from drinking yourself to death. Hide the scotch first, for pity’s sake!

    • #14
    • June 10, 2014 at 3:34 pm
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  15. Member

    A literary WMD.

    • #15
    • June 10, 2014 at 3:43 pm
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  16. Member

    The Vogons have already awarded it their Poetry of the Century Award.

    • #16
    • June 10, 2014 at 3:44 pm
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  17. Member

    Western Chauvinist:

    Salvatore Padula:

    In a fit of masochism I bought the audiobook. Thus far, I have nothing to report.

    Not the one read by the author, pray tell? Hugh played excerpts that were so painful to listen to– she’s monotonic and pronounces every syllable of every word like a robot — I fear we’d have to send a rescue mission to keep you from drinking yourself to death. Hide the scotch first, for pity’s sake!

     And at the end of the segment Lileks came on and Hugh and James discussed the book with the same monotonic lack of expression and random commentary with which Hillary read the excerpts, just to underline how bad the delivery was. That part was hilarious.

    • #17
    • June 10, 2014 at 4:49 pm
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  18. Member

    It is no “hard choice” to skip reading this book.

    • #18
    • June 10, 2014 at 9:17 pm
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  19. Member

    Waded through the free chapters on Amazon.com. Endless series of trivial occurences that don’t seem to lead to a point. I guess Hillary thinks she is the point, or the center, whatever. I was reminded of the great quote from Voltaire: “The secret of being boring is say everything.” 
    I learned that post-2008 election, Hillary says she is now candid and speaks her mind at all times. I thought the “video-caused-Benghazi” thing was the epitome of brazen, cynical misrepresentation. However, I now know that she must have meant it. So she is not a cynical self-promiting liar but an oblivious self-absorbed buffoon.

    • #19
    • June 11, 2014 at 11:12 am
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  20. Inactive

    Brian Watt:

    Still working my way through her earlier works.

     This is too funny; I have tears rolling down my cheeks as I type!

    • #20
    • June 11, 2014 at 7:30 pm
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  21. Moderator

    Western Chauvinist:

    Salvatore Padula:

    In a fit of masochism I bought the audiobook. Thus far, I have nothing to report.

    Not the one read by the author, pray tell? Hugh played excerpts that were so painful to listen to– she’s monotonic and pronounces every syllable of every word like a robot — I fear we’d have to send a rescue mission to keep you from drinking yourself to death. Hide the scotch first, for pity’s sake!

     It’s only partly read by Clinton, partly read by an imitator, who I think is worse than Clinton. 

    It’s a fun book, but unique in the politician bios I’ve read. Many of those include some personal stuff in with the policy things and political developments, but it always seems like it’s background stuff. With Clinton, it really seems like the personal stuff, the teddy bear, the couch she got to nap in as her first act as secretary, the various degrees of comfort in the lousy (Senatorial), nicer (State) and nicest (Presidential) private jumbo jets (travel in each of which is described as a hardship), the makeup and hair issues, food and sleeping accommodation, etc. is the important stuff. 

    • #21
    • June 12, 2014 at 2:53 pm
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  22. Moderator

    Things I have enjoyed in the book: It’s not nearly as partisan as you’d think. For those who have read Carter’s work or similar, this is a much gentler read. 
    I enjoyed learning why Ron Kirk was appointed. Apparently he’s the comic relief. 
    Even by the make up standards of the book, her interest in her toenail polish is very funny. 
    It’s shockingly clear that she had no ghostwriter.

    She had really bad luck with the Taliban 5 release coming so close to her book release. Her justification for amnesty for low level Taliban is much funnier in context: “I think, underlying your question is the concern of people who say “wait a minute, those are the bad guys, why are we talking to them?” That was a fair question, but at this point we weren’t talking about reconciling with terrorist masterminds or the Taliban leaders who protected Osama Bin Laden.” The “at this point” is contrasting with acceptance for Karzai’s efforts shortly after, but it’s more interesting now. 
    She says that as a Senator, “if you can’t fix the potholes, nothing else matters”, suggesting either she or I suffer under grave misconceptions about the Constitutional role of the Senate.

    • #22
    • June 12, 2014 at 7:40 pm
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  23. Moderator

    The biggest takeaway for me, though, is how much she saw her role as being an extension of her time as First Lady. She references the continuity again and again, and her foci at State really did focus on First Lady tasks. She thought that the protocol for official dinners was of paramount importance. She repeatedly suggests that her biggest focus was on promoting state programs for marginalized women in other countries, and notes that she continued on not only from her own work in that field, but from Laura Bush. She went to great effort to support the US pavilion at an expo that showed how pro-China Americans are. She felt that the most important thing on a lot of foreign trips was meeting with ordinary women and inspiring and learning from them.
    Over and over again, more than any other writer I’ve read (and I read quite a lot of feminism), she not only reminds us that she’s a woman, but she refers to herself as reminding foreigners of this, forcing them not to ignore her being a woman (I have no idea what this means, but apparently she did it a lot). 

    • #23
    • June 12, 2014 at 7:48 pm
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  24. Moderator

    The book portrays a woman terrifyingly unsuited to positions of political power. She’s very interested in personal relationships, which is great gaining power, but appears utterly uninterested in the substance of responsibility. I’m currently left with the surprising impression that we’re very lucky that Obama beat her, for different reasons than I had previously held that view (I used to base that judgment on the view that she’d have passed the Employee Free Choice Act, which I still think, but I’d had no idea how shallow, vain, and incompetent she was, even by Obama standards).

    • #24
    • June 12, 2014 at 7:50 pm
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  25. Member

    James Of England:

    The book portrays a woman terrifyingly unsuited to positions of political power. She’s very interested in personal relationships, which is great gaining power, but appears utterly uninterested in the substance of responsibility. I’m currently left with the surprising impression that we’re very lucky that Obama beat her, for different reasons than I had previously held that view (I used to base that judgment on the view that she’d have passed the Employee Free Choice Act, which I still think, but I’d had no idea how shallow, vain, and incompetent she was, even by Obama standards).

     Thanks, James. These observations are fascinating. There’s only one thing that makes me hesitant in accepting them. Isn’t it possible, even likely, that HRC was constrained in her book by exterior, political considerations, that resulted in a very limited and warped portrait of herself? Isn’t it likely she felt compelled–or wanted–to mislead? “Shallow, vain and incompetent” might be the price she’s willing to pay to make a certain impression, or avoid making a certain impression. It’s all jujitsu, you know. Maybe.

    • #25
    • June 13, 2014 at 6:14 am
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  26. Moderator

    Fredösphere: Thanks, James. These observations are fascinating. There’s only one thing that makes me hesitant in accepting them. Isn’t it possible, even likely, that HRC was constrained in her book by exterior, political considerations, that resulted in a very limited and warped portrait of herself? Isn’t it likely she felt compelled–or wanted–to mislead? 

     Although I had not previously had a real sense of Hillary as a person, the portrayals are extremely vivid and remind me strongly of people I know who are big shots in international dispute resolution. There’s a lot of narratives where she says “and then I said this, and the media characterized the report in this flattering way”, which is a common conversation element in those circles. One of the most common narrative pericopes, for instance, is an introduction of a person followed by a compliment of her by him/ her. Some are some compliments that are clearly useful to Hillary backers, but there are many that are not. 

    I expected the book to be a lot more poll tested (like, for instance, Scott Walker’s book felt, although perhaps less than Romney’s regrettable No Apologies). I was extremely surprised by how genuine the book feels. 

    • #26
    • June 13, 2014 at 3:35 pm
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  27. Member

    James Of England:

    Although I had not previously had a real sense of Hillary as a person, the portrayals are extremely vivid and remind me strongly of people I know who are big shots in international dispute resolution.[…]

    I expected the book to be a lot more poll tested (like, for instance, Scott Walker’s book felt, although perhaps less than Romney’s regrettable No Apologies). I was extremely surprised by how genuine the book feels.

     Heh, be careful or you’re going to start making us want to read the thing.

    • #27
    • June 13, 2014 at 5:57 pm
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  28. Member

    Fredösphere:

    James Of England:

    Although I had not previously had a real sense of Hillary as a person, the portrayals are extremely vivid and remind me strongly of people I know who are big shots in international dispute resolution.[…]

    I expected the book to be a lot more poll tested (like, for instance, Scott Walker’s book felt, although perhaps less than Romney’s regrettable No Apologies). I was extremely surprised by how genuine the book feels.

    Heh, be careful or you’re going to start making us want to read the thing.

     Speak for yourself. Say, Yeti, I think I’ve found the Vogon spy!

    • #28
    • June 13, 2014 at 6:04 pm
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  29. Moderator

    Fredösphere:

     I’m only halfway through, and the third sixth of the book was less fun, although it included a particularly precious bit of naval gazing about the toenail polish she was wearing during one foreign visit (the polish was well received).

    So far, though, I think it’s a book I will recommend to people who are politically nerdy enough to see the subtle jibes and care about them, who would be likely to enjoy her awesome lack of self awareness, and who want to understand her better in order to hone attacks before the 2016 elections. I didn’t recommend Obama’s, McCain’s, or Romney’s campaign books (Turnaround, a non-campaign book was better), and I wouldn’t recommend Walker’s book to an informed conservative (Walker’s book is pretty good material for less informed moderates, though, if you have any of them on your Christmas list who would forgive you for moderately worthy political reading). 

    It really is about the people, though; you’re not likely to learn as much about policy as you would in a proper politician’s bio. There are moments; apparently Bowe was a really big issue to her, she was apparently more aggressive regarding the South China Sea than I recalled, and she was partly responsible for AFRICOM’s retention, but they’re rare. 

    • #29
    • June 13, 2014 at 6:23 pm
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