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Thursday, June 23, 2005
...and I should know.
Peggy Noonan, who once wrote a book about Hillary Clinton that contained fictionalized Clinton coversations, complains about Ed Klein. No. Really.
I have read the Hillary book by Ed Klein, which has been heavily dumped on by conservatives, and understandably. In terms of political impact it is not a takedown but a buildup. Dick Morris says its sensational charges will only "embolden" her. They will certainly tend to inoculate her against future and legitimate criticism and revelations. The book is poorly written, poorly thought, poorly sourced and full of the kind of loaded language that is appropriate to a polemic but not an investigative work.
Here are some significant things about Mr. Klein's book: It comes from an establishment journalist who's had his professional ticket punched at the New York Times magazine and Newsweek. He has no conservative bona fides; he says he is and appears to be essentially apolitical.
Before we get to "apolitical" Ed Klein, here is a sample review from Amazon of Peggy's book:
Ms. Noonan's case could have benefited from stronger editing. I felt, for example, a hypothetical conversation snippet imagined at Hillary's future gravesite was regrettable and tasteless. More concerning - especially after Ms. Noonan wrote negatively (and accurately) about Edmund Morris fiction/non-fiction Ronald Reagan biography - was an extremely interesting portion of her book set at Michael Eisner's home; a scene which turns out, in the end, to be entirely made up by Ms Noonan. She describes how she wound up watching this (fictional) scene, as the friend of Eisner's housekeeper! I felt disappointed and manipulated after reading this fascinating scene to find out at its close that Ms. Noonan had imagined it entirely - including fictional quotes from Ted Turner, etc.
And now, here is "apoltical" Ed Klein:
NRO: Do you believe, as Hillary expressed around impeachment time, that there was a "vast-right-wing conspiracy" out to do her husband in?
Klein: The only conspiracy that existed during impeachment time was Bill and Hillary’s attempt to hide the truth.
NRO: Are you now part of some "Republican scream machine"? What was your intention in writing the book?
Klein: I’m a journalist who writes about fascinating people. I spent many years writing about the Kennedys. But the Clintons have eclipsed them in national interest. Right now, Hillary is the most fascinating woman in America.
I don’t know if all Republicans will like this book, but I call them as I see them.
NRO: Did you vote for Bill Clinton?
NRO: You're a New Yorker. Did you vote for Hillary for senator? Would you vote for Hillary for president?
Klein: No and no.
I think Elizabeth Moynihan, Senator Moynihan’s wife, had it right when she told me that Hillary is “duplicitous.” Hillary acts as though she is chosen by God, and that gives her the right to use any means to justify her ends.
If she becomes president, it’s going to be deja Clinton all over again. And as far as I’m concerned, we’ve already had the Clinton presidency for its full constitutional eight years.
NRO: Is Sidney Blumenthal still "Hillary's brain"?
Klein: I don’t know, but he’s still her pit bull attack dog. Blumenthal was the first person to attack my book as soon as Vanity Fair’s excerpt appeared.
NRO: A Sentinel spokesman said recently that The Truth about Hillary could be Hillary's Swift Boat Vets. Do you intend that or expect that?
Klein: I intended my book to take a good hard look at Hillary’s true character, and if the book is being compared to the Swift Boat Vets’ book on that account, then I am proud of the comparison.
Now back to La Loon:
The real problem with Hillary biographies is that the picture they paint, if it is true, is difficult for a normal person to believe. No one could be that bad. No one who has risen so high in American politics could possibly be that bad. To believe is to go to a dark place.
And the charges seem so at odds--so utterly at odds--with the nice, smiling woman who calls abortion a tragedy and enjoys speaking of how much she prays. This is the problem all Hillary biographers have: It's too grim to believe. To believe that her story as presented by the books so far is true is to believe that she has clung to a premeditated plan for 40 years, that she is ruthless in the pursuit both of her own ambitions and of a deep and intractable leftist political agenda. And that she found her equal in a partner sufficiently hardhearted to stick with the plan, and the secrecy, and the weirdness. It's too over the top. It seems hard to believe, not because it isn't true but because it isn't likely, usual, expected. It isn't the kind of biography we are used to in our leaders. That is her great advantage. (my emphasis)
In other words we are back to Noonan's Law:
Is it irresponsible to speculate? It is irresponsible not to.
Ed Klein need not apply.