At the beginning of this slim polemic, Peggy Noonan states that she does not hate the first lady, she merely has contempt for her, and in The Case Against Hillary Clinton
she explains precisely why. Noonan's objections to Hillary Clinton and her husband ("to understand her you have to understand him") are based both on ideology and style--Noonan considers the Clintons to be self-involved know-it-alls who "stand for one thing: maximum and uninterrupted power for the Clintons." "They have made the American political landscape a lower and lesser thing," she writes. "They have stopped good things from happening, and have allowed bad things to occur; when caught they have covered up and dissembled." Noonan describes Hillary's bid for a Senate seat in a state not her own as "a thing of utter and breathtaking gall." She further dismisses Mrs. Clinton's ability to lead at all, citing the botched health-care initiative, Filegate, Travelgate, and chronic lying by both of the Clintons as evidence. Perhaps Noonan's most persuasive argument against Hillary is that, although she has been in a position to do much good, she has accomplished little on her own: "I am often frustrated with her because she could do some real good, and at a crucial time, and doesn't.... I can't think of a single time in seven years that she jeopardized her position with her base to make progress for her country."
A speechwriter for Ronald Reagan who chronicled her own White House experiences in the book What I Saw at the Revolution, Noonan exercises plenty of creative license in these pages, mostly effectively by inventing dialogue, events, and inner thoughts that serve to illustrate Mrs. Clinton's motives and character as Noonan sees them. And the author notes, as have others, that Mrs. Clinton's Senate race is likely just a first step on the road to the White House: "So New York is the battle that may decide the war. This Senate bid has huge implications, not only for New York State but for the nation," she writes. In all, a persuasive case elegantly presented. --Linda Killian
From Publishers Weekly
Seasoned conservative political commentator Noonan (What I Saw at the Revolution, etc.) joins the anti-Hillary literary feeding frenzy with this scathing biographical essay. Addressing herself to the voting population of New York State, Noonan rails against "Clintonism"--which she defines as the using of any tactic to achieve a political goal, including "misleading constituents on serious and crucial issues," "evading responsibility for governmental mistakes," "smearing opponents and critics" and "lying"--as she begs New Yorkers not to elect the First Lady as their senator. But the book's unusually urgent purpose isn't the only thing that makes Noonan's text irregular: mirroring, in some ways, the controversial methods Edmund Morris employed in Dutch (his recent biography of Reagan, Noonan's former boss), Noonan mixes her thoroughly researched, nonfictive prose with confusingly presented fictional passages: invented internal monologues, "transcriptions" of speeches Hillary never made and the like. Noonan's rant occasionally falls flat, too--especially as she strains to make what are essentially ideological differences seem like commonsense, apolitical moral questions--and some of her most fiery points (such as her suggestion that the Clintons were the first politicians to distort the electoral process with spin and lies) ring hollow. Still, when she's not fictionalizing or psychologizing the First Lady, Noonan offers a searing analysis of what she sees as the emptiness of HRC's political platform and the mountain of questions about her past that remain unanswered. Relentlessly passionate and concise, Noonan--an extremely capable writer--lays out, in lively prose, the central complaints that New Yorkers will be hearing in the coming months from conservatives opposed to Mrs. Clinton's candidacy.
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