It's one thing to review a book by pounding out a few hundred words of criticism but it's quite another to review a book by writing an entirely new book. That's what Dick Morris, former advisor to President Bill Clinton, has done in Rewriting History, an energetic response to Hillary Clinton's Living History. Mrs. Clinton, Morris warns, is on a direct path to the White House due to a lack of Democratic alternatives and a leftward trend in the nation; therefore America must evaluate who she really is and not just what her memoir says. Morris's book is actually remarkably similar to the slew of attack books published about recent presidents but with the crucial difference that Hillary is at the very least four years away from the Oval Office. So Morris's criticisms of her, though backed up by a 20-year relationship with the Clintons, are rarely more than speculative, worrying about what she might do and asking ominous questions that are inherently unanswerable. Hillary Clinton, in Morris's view, is a much more insecure, disingenuous, and calculating creature than "Hillary," the palatable political product that won election to the Senate in 2000 and she's also an inferior politician to her husband. But as a political operative who has worked for both conservatives and liberals, Morris's indictments of Clinton evolve into a grudging respect as he demonstrates her considerable political resolve. All the same, he refutes many passages in her book with his own accounts of what transpired and indicts her integrity and behavior dating back to Bill Clinton's early career in Arkansas. Going forward, he says, she must decide whether to rely on her behind-the-scenes political acumen or embrace actual convictions. Often, Morris puts Clinton in no-win situations. For instance, while First Lady, she decides to get a dog, a decision that Morris infers is entirely politically motivated despite Clinton saying that it was because daughter Chelsea had moved out. Thus, if she had "admitted" her motivation was political, it would be an admission of cynicism and manipulation, but if she protests that her motives were simpler, Morris would have us believe that she's just lying. Nowhere is it allowed that the woman may have just wanted a dog. Rewriting History, co-written by Morris's wife Eileen McGann, offers a pleasing blend of Washington (and some Little Rock) gossip along with its political strategizing and is more valuable as insider scoop than presidential road map. Fans of Hillary Clinton will find little to alter their view and those who oppose her will find plenty of talking points for all the years of future debates that Hillary Clinton will surely inspire. --John Moe
From Publishers Weekly
"All public figures use makeup to cover a blemish or two," admits seasoned political consultant Morris, but he charges that "only Hillary wears a mask of so many layers, one that hides her true face altogether." In his latest book, Morris (Off With Their Heads, The New Prince) aims to unveil what he says is the real Hillary Rodham Clinton—the calculating tactician, zealous ideologue, dubious dealmaker—before she becomes president, in part by including what he alleges she left out of her bestselling memoir, which Morris dismisses as "Hillary Lite." He recasts Clinton as a political chameleon—to Morris, metaphorically characterized by her changing hairstyles—whose nefarious duplicity is rivaled only by Richard Nixons. Unlike other leaders, she has learned little from her political mistakes, Morris says, and he frets that she may not have grown adequately to take on the presidency. To support this critique, Morris covers much familiar territory: Hillary is not sufficiently thankful for the ride on Bill Clinton's political coattails; she lacks her husband's intellect, charisma and everyman appeal; she cloaks herself in phony domesticity to shield herself from criticism and scandal. He also charges that she may be anti-Semitic (she was, he says, overly concerned about accommodating kosher diets at the governor's mansion). Ostensibly a nonpartisan insider, the author's colors bleed when he praises Ronald Reagan as the president whose "joy and optimism... animated the world," or George W. Bush as "[t]he boy [who] became a man before our eyes." But while Morris's approach seems partisan, he was also close to the Clintons for many years, and here he offers a deep insider's take on the couple and on Hillary in particular that is going to raise eyebrows (for example, the astonishing list of gifts Hillary received after being elected senator, but before taking office, when Senate rules would have prohibited the acceptance of such gifts—one of many nuggets in this book not to be found in Living History .
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