"There was too much mythology about Hillary that stretched the facts, she felt. [Donna] Shalala had always been made uncomfortable by hyperbolic statements from friends and acolytes of Hillary, as well as leaders in the women’s movement who didn’t know her personally, who put forth the notion that had she pursued her own political career and not deferred to Bill Clinton’s, she would have been a governor or senator in her own right by 1992," writes Carl Bernstein in A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton, to be published Tuesday and exerpted today in the London Times. We rarely see eye to eye with Ms. Shalala, but in this case she's caught the conscience of the Queen, and Bernstein's riveting -- if mostly deja vu -- narrative is chock full of fresh
red meat eyewitness accounts of Hillary friends and former aids that kept us turning the cyberpages. A few tidbits:
. . . both Clintons were certain that an overwhelming majority of Americans favoured universal coverage, even yearned for it.
To their total surprise and consternation, among the jolts the Clintons endured in the flush of their victory was serious resistance to putting Hillary in charge of healthcare from the most experienced members of the incoming domestic and economic policy team . . .
To accept their judgment would have meant to controvert her most basic notion about herself: that given the responsibility and the power, she could solve virtually any problem she applied herself to by dint of sheer force of will, intellect, study and hard work . . .
“He was president in no small measure because she stood by him in the Gennifer Flowers mess. And he had to pay her back. This is what she wanted, and he couldn’t figure out how not to give it to her. And so he hoped for the best, and jumped over the side with her."
We loved Bernstein's reportage and his brisk, laconic prose -- the facts, ma'am, just the facts -- but saw red when he started trying to squeeze the facts into the tired MSM template:
"It is remarkable how many of the contradictions of the Clinton presidency and its two principals were on display at the new administration’s difficult birthing, the faultless intentions, the reckless fundraising, the seriousness, the infatuation with Hollywood, the idealism, the physical exhaustion, the sensitivity to matters of race, the boomer sensibility, the surprising naïveté, the intense religiosity of the new president and first lady, their folksy grandiosity, her disregard for the rituals of Washington and disdain for the press, the rivalry between Hillary and Vice-President Al Gore, her sense of entitlement and the shading of the truth, her protective instincts toward her husband, her confusing relationship to feminism, her occasional tin ear, her lack of sophistication, her misreading of the voters’ healthcare mandate, the propensity of their enemies to hammer them for conduct that other presidents and their wives had got away with routinely.
The Clintons' "surprise and consternation" when others didn't see the righteousness of the "faultless intentions" of Hillarycare called to mind Al Gore's latest projection of his own psychological dysfunction onto us great unwashed:
"I don't think that the skills I have are the ones that are most likely to be rewarded within this system. Its like a washing machine that is permanently set on the spin cycle. It doesn't stop spinning. That creates real problems for a politics based on reason."
Friends have urged him to run for president again, but he wants to see a "transformation of this conversation of democracy" that de-emphasizes imagery and spin-doctoring.
"Truth is that sock that got lost in Gore's spin cycle," we wrote in the comments of Ann Althouse's inspired analysis:
What?! You think this is spinning? You're spinning. You're always spinning. You're like a washing machine. Al Gore is grateful to those who have a good opinion of him, but you . . . you don't seem ready for reason, you know, reason, that process that yields a good opinion of Al Gore. Why don't you help him transform the conversation of democracy. De-emphasize imagery! You washing machine.
Speaking of washing machines, Hillary seems stuck in a spin mode of her own, recycling failed collectivist visions of a "shared prosperity." Betsy Newmark explains:
Most Americans don't pay much attention to the news or history so it is often easy for demagogues to mistate economic realities in order to arouse populist angst . . .
It might have been one thing to promote such ideas for sharing wealth a century ago. But we've had a century to see how such policies play out in real life from communist societies to the failing socialist plans in many parts of Europe. Why would anyone want to emulate those policies now with all that historic evidence of how such plans work out in reality? Well, no matter their failures, telling the less well off that they should be getting some of the wealth from those who are better off will always be politically winning rhetoric to the ears of the poor. What such ideas would do overall to economic growth and economic innovation is an entirely different story.
Hillary's rhetoric reveals a person who disdains the individualism that has been at the heart of America since its founding. She prefers a more collectivist approach.
As we wrote in our post "Chatty Hillary" last winter, "It's not that she's a woman. It's not that she's a Clinton. It's her assumption that our own earnings are hers to give or take away that galls, especially in light of her invitation to "chat."