OK–I haven’t read Ed Klein’s The Truth About Hillary, and I don’t intend to. My idea of a good beach read is The Other Charlotte’s best-selling Being Dead Is No Excuse, her delightful guide to the mores of proper Southern funerals, with recipes for Vodka Cake, Liketa Died Potatoes, and other Dixie treats from TOC’s co-author Gayden Metcalfe.
Besides, I dunno about Klein’s shocking but very thinly sourced claims about Hillary’s sex life, such as the allegation that Bill raped her to conceive their daughter, Chelsea. Even–and maybe especially–Chelsea Clinton doesn’t quite deserve that. Monica’s dress was bad enough for any teenager growing up in that household. So when John Podhoretz wrote this column for the New York Post (registration required) I suspected I might agree with his assessment:
“This is one of the most sordid volumes I’ve ever waded through. Thirty pages into it, I wanted to take a shower. Sixty pages into it, I wanted to be decontaminated. And 200 pages into it, I wanted someone to drive stakes through my eyes so I wouldn’t have to suffer through another word.”
But now, Tina Brown has come to Hillary’s rescue, and wouldn’t you know–I’m suddenly finding myself on Ed Klein’s side.
In Tina’s latest View From Fifth Avenue, where the liberal-elite ladies lunch and trash the cold-cut-guzzling, Coke-drinking Red State masses, she haughtily deems Klein’s book “misogynistic.” The idea among Tina and her pals is that attacking Hillary Clinton is equivalent to attacking all women–so we must rise in sisterhood to her rescue. Here’s Tina:
“In New York, ‘The Truth About Hillary’ is having the unintended result of inspiring female solidarity. At a fancy all-girls lunch party on Fifth Avenue on Tuesday for, in Kleinspeak, the Powerful Network of Women who control the dinner access in Manhattan, ‘Ed Slime’ was a withering topic of conversation….”
The meme here for Tina and her powerful pals is that Klein’s book implies that Hillary and her pals are lesbians. Of course he doesn’t say so, but in Tina’s book, what’s the diff? Writes Tina:
“Every time Klein describes anyone female in Hillary Clinton’s circle, you hear the clump clump clump of stereotype-lesbian footwear. Melanne Verveer, her White House East Wing chief of staff, is ‘dark haired and mannish-looking.’ Susan Thomases has ‘frizzy salt-and-pepper hair, frumpy clothes, down-at-the-heel shoes and an expletive-laden vocabulary.’ Evelyn Lieberman, the White House deputy chief of staff, is ‘short, a little overweight with grayish hair,’ while the orientation of the Hillary-driven picks for Cabinet appointments, Donna Shalala and Janet Reno, ‘are shrouded in deep ambiguity’ (not).”
Frankly, I don’t see what’s wrong with pointing out that people dress like frumps. And I have no idea–and neither does Klein–whether Reno and Shalala are lesbians. I don’t even care; it’s none of my business. But I do think it’s OK to say that the two of them look like battle-axes (which is probably the main reason neither married) and strike a lot of folks as scary.
“Maybe it’s a secret fantasy of girl-on-girl action that makes Ed Klein obsess about Sen. Hillary Clinton’s supposed lesbian ethos in his new book ‘The Truth About Hillary.’ It’s hard to know what else he has to draw on. Yelling ‘lesbian’ at powerful heterosexual women has always been the pathetic projection of the menaced male, but it’s especially baffling in Klein’s case. As the former editor of the New York Times Magazine, with some bestsellers behind him, Klein used to be a workmanlike scribe with glamour aspirations when he was flat-footing around in the Jackie O crypto-sphere. He’s not the usual sniper in the Republican stage army, which is perhaps why such paid-up members as the New York Post’s John Podhoretz have elected to play smart and trash the book, too.”
“Paid-up members”? When I last looked, the Post was paying Podhoretz to write those columns.
So I think I’ll go with National Review’s Myrna Blyth’s assessment of “The Truth About Hillary”:
“I guess what I think is that Klein’s book is a lot more like a juicy celebrity’s biography than an analysis of a politician. And the Clintons — Hill as well as Bill — can be treated that way by a writer because they have always behaved more like celebrities than your standard-issue politician…..
“The Clintons have always believed in a non-stop public-relations campaign, and have always tried to manipulate the press in order to manipulate the public. I have long thought they secretly relished that their lives were such colorful stories, even when the story was a scandal not exactly to their liking. Bill always knew and Hillary learned that appealing emotionally to the public was the key. And the media today much prefers telling stories than contemplating policy or discussing issues.”
In other words, lighten up, guys: “The Truth About Hillary” is just a beach-book.