The Washington Post reports today some of the emerging juicy bits from the new Hillary biographies from Carl Bernstein, as well as the New York Times team of Jeff Gerth and Don van Natta. Reporters Peter Baker and John Solomon make the obvious point: “Unlike many harsh books about Clinton written by ideological enemies, the two new volumes come from long-established writers backed by major publishing houses and could be harder to dismiss.”
Usually, “long-established writers backed by major publishing houses” is code for harsh books about Bush or Reagan, from authors like Bernstein’s old partner Bob Woodward. I’d say it’s code because you can easily imagine Peggy Noonan’s Hillary book as being from a long-established writer backed by a major publishing house (HarperCollins), but the Post wouldn’t say it was hard to dismiss.
The Post found it interesting that former Clinton aides unlocked their tongues a little for these authors to paint an unflattering picture of a Hillary Clinton who was self-righteous, paranoid, and not unwilling to stare legal inquiries in the face and say “F— ‘em.” Perhaps Bernstein sees a little Richard Nixon echo in all that?
Bob Boorstin, who worked for Clinton when she was pushing her plan to restructure the nation’s health-care system in the early days of her husband’s presidency, blamed her for its collapse. “I find her to be among the most self-righteous people I’ve ever known in my life,” he told Bernstein. “And it’s her great flaw, it’s what killed health care,” along with other factors.
Mark Fabiani, who as White House special counsel played a key role in defending the Clintons, said she was “so tortured by the way she’s been treated that she would do anything to get out of the situation. . . . And if that involved not being fully forthcoming, she herself would say, ‘I have a reason for not being forthcoming.’ ” Her logic, he said, was: “If we do this, they’re going to do this to me. If we say this, then they’re going to say this. You know, [expletive] ‘em, let’s just not do that.”
Fabiani said Clinton personally directed the White House defense, telling Bernstein that private attorney David E. Kendall dealt mainly with the first lady and met only rarely with the president until the Monica S. Lewinsky scandal. “He was easy to deal with compared to her,” Fabiani said of the first couple. The only time he saw Bill Clinton lose his temper, Fabiani said, was when the president saw his Whitewater partner, Susan McDougal, taken to jail in an orange jumpsuit and shackles for refusing to testify.
At one point, Hillary Clinton was convinced she would be next, worried that Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth W. Starr would indict her for perjury or obstruction of justice arising from statements she made under oath about her work for Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan, the Whitewater investment or long-missing billing records. “When I say there was a serious fear she would be indicted, I can’t overstate that,” Fabiani told Bernstein.