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Oh, the Hard Choices

Hillary’s Haughty Hyperbole!

by RALPH NADER

Last Sunday’s New York Times Book Review section featured a one page interview with Hillary Clinton, author of the just released Hard Choices which brought her a $14 million advance from Viacom’s Simon and Schuster.

My first reaction was “Can anybody believe this?” I’m referring to the replies by Mrs. Clinton to questions about her book reading habits which turn out to be prodigious. How can such a super-busy person have the time to absorb such a staggering load of diverse books?

The Times sends questions in advance to the person that they are going to interview each week. This gives the person being interviewed enough time to think about their favorite books and be precise about titles. The titles Hillary said she is reading could have been poll-tested for the 2016 presidential race.

First Hillary declared that she is absorbing three books at one time, which she explained are among the “pile of books stacked on my night stand that I’m reading.” They includedMom & Me & Mom by the late Maya Angelou.

To the question, “What’s the last truly great book you read?” She listed not one, but four of them: The Hare With Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal, The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, Citizens of London by Lynne Olson and A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth.

Revving up, she took on with gusto the question “Who are your favorite contemporary writers,” including “any writers whose books you automatically read when they come out?” She replied that she “automatically” reads “anything by Laura Hillenbrand, Walter Isaacson, Barbara Kingsolver, John le Carré, John Grisham, Hilary Mantel, Toni Morrison, Anna Quindlen and Alice Walker,” plus “the latest installments from Alex Berenson, Linda Fairstein, Sue Grafton, Donna Leon, Katherine Hall Page, Louise Penny, Daniel Silva, Alexander McCall Smith, Charles Todd and Jacqueline Winspear.”

Whew! That’s not all of her responses. I have read some of this popular New York Timescolumn’s interviews over the years, many with professional authors, fiction and non-fiction, and not one replied with such an oceanic immersion, even though many of these authors regularly read many books for their craft.

The former First Lady explained that she finds time to indulge in “guilty pleasures and useful time fillers,” by reading “cooking, decorating, diet/self-help and gardening books.” Time fillers? For one of the busiest people on Earth? Has Hillary discovered the 72 hour day?

It gets better, when asked her opinion on the best books about Washington, DC to recommend, she chose Our Divided Political Heart by E.J. Dionne Jr., who “shows how most everybody has some conservative and liberal impulses, but just as individuals have to reconcile them within ourselves, so does our political system if we expect to function productively.”

To the question “Is there one book you wish all students would read,” Hillary could not hold back providing three: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen, and Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally.

As for the “one book that made you who you are today,” Hillary replied, as she does often, that it was the Bible, which she elaborates “was and remains the biggest influence on my thinking.” Which parts of the Bible remain unknown, but presumably she has read the wide range of choices including the parts about “an eye for an eye,” “turning the other cheek,” and “the golden rule.”

More insights into her eclectic interests came from responses to the question “which books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?” “You might be surprised,” she admitted, “to see memoirs by Republicans such as Decision Points by President George W. Bush” (whose criminal Iraq War she voted for), “and Faith of my Fathers by Senator John McCain” chief sabre-rattler in the Senate.

Perfecto! With this interview Hillary has used her literary interests to pander to homemakers, ethnic groups, poets, lovers of fiction, adversaries, hard-line Republican leaders in Congress, religious groups and the swooning credulous.

Why is Hillary Clinton unable to resist straining our credulity?

A few days earlier, Hillary told Diane Sawyer of ABC News that she and Bill left the White House “dead broke.” This comment prompted the press to report on their combined $23 million book contracts, ample Presidential pension, $200,000 a speech for Bill and other rewards provided to them by friends.

Sure politicians are calculating, even cunning. Those are occupational traits. Maybe Hillary thinks she can push the envelope into prevarication and distortion with impunity. After all, as a Wall Street corporatist and a war-mongering militarist, she has gotten away with much worse.

Rocky Anderson, the former twice-elected mayor of Salt Lake City, cited polls and examples in his presentation to the mass-media in which he both addressed Clinton’s “recognized reputation for lying, distorting and evading,” and suggested important questions that they may wish to ask Hillary on her North-American book tour.

One such episode involved her trip to Bosnia as First Lady in 1996. By her account she landed under sniper fire and had to run “with our heads down to get into the vehicles.” This narrative was contradicted by the videos and the report from accompanying CBS reporter, Sharyl Attkisson. The video shows Clinton and daughter Chelsea, in Attkisson’s words “speaking with young people at the airport, taking their time and not rushing, heads down or otherwise, to any vehicles.” For the full list of Anderson’s basic questions, go to the Facebook group: Progressives Opposed to a Clinton Dynasty.

On June 10, 2014 the lines of people seeking autographed copies of Hard Choicesstarted lining up at 3am in front of the Barnes & Noble bookstore at Union Square in New York City, the launch of Hillary’s book tour. The New York Times reported that “dozens of Secret Service agents” were establishing orderly processions by the customers. Retired presidents and their families are given a permanent, small Secret Service detail.  A private citizen doesn’t have “dozens of Secret Service agents” to help sell her books. The reporters didn’t push this subject. It is a small wonder that Hillary’s march to the White House is being described as “a coronation.”

With so many curtseying instead of inquiring, how can her path be anything but Queenly?

Ralph Nader’s latest book is: Unstoppable: the Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.