Haven’t had time to read Hillary’s book, “Hard Choices”? Not to worry. Hardly anybody else will either.
In any case, it’s not meant to be read, but to serve as another way station in Hillary’s inexorable march to a presidential campaign.
Despite the likelihood that it will be a bestseller, it’s a pretty good bet that few people will actually read it cover to cover. Like Thomas Piketty’s 700 page book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” it will be a hit mostly as an empty vessel into which people of all stripes will pour their biases and preconceptions.
The pundits, editorial writers and political junkies will read it, or parts of it, so they can pontificate about it. Politicians will only look in the index to see if they’re mentioned. Curious people will then read the musings of influencers who hold their same world view, reinforcing what they are inclined to believe anyway.
Hillary’s admirers will heap praise on the book and on commentary that treats it with awe, such as Michiko Kakutani’s New York times review that said the book is a “subtle, finely calibrated work.” Her detractors will disparage the book and nod their heads in agreement when reading critical comments, such as Slate’s John Dickerson who called the book ‘low-salt, low-fat, low-calorie … with vanilla pudding as the dessert.”
So if you like Hillary, go ahead and buy the book or go to one of Hillary’s over-hyped book tour events, but don’t bother to read the book. If there’s anything really attention grabbing in it, somebody else will tell you about it.
So far, the only attention-grabbing thing to come out isn’t even in the book, but something Hillary said in an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer ahead of the release of “Hard Choices.”
“We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt,” Clinton said to Sawyer, referring to the hefty legal fees incurred during their White House years. “We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages, for houses, for Chelsea’s education. You know, it was not easy.”
The social media lines lit up in fury after that comment became public.
Commenters noted that Bill Clinton earned $200,000 a year as president, for a total of $1.6 million in the previous eight years. They pointed out that the Clinton’s huge legal debts, largely an outgrowth of Bill Clinton’s misadventures, were paid off with public contributions. And they highlighted that Hillary and Bill immediately leaped into lucrative speaking engagements when Bill’s presidency ended.
Hillary is reported to have raked in $5 million in speaking fees since she left the State Department in early 2013, much of it from speeches billed at $200,000 a pop. Bill has been even more aggressive.
CNN research of Bill Clinton’s financial records in 2013 showed he pulled in $106 million from paid speeches since leaving the White House in January 2001, including $17 million just in 2012. In November 2011, he was paid $750,000 for a single speech to executives and employees of telecom firm Ericsson in Hong Kong and in one Sept. 2006 weekend in the U.K., he collected more than $1,000,0000 for three speeches.
But you didn’t need to read Hillary’s book to learn about all this. So, as Chuck Palahniuk, author of the award-winning novel Fight Club, said in the opening lines of another one of his books, Choke, “If you’re going to read this, don’t bother.”