Hillary Wars II

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June 2000


Hillary Wars II

By David Brock


The Case Against Hillary Clinton

By Peggy Noonan
Regan Books

Click on the title to buy the book
Peggy Noonan, a former speechwriter for Reagan and Bush whose work frequently appears in The Wall Street Journal and Time, is often considered to represent the upper level of Republican thinking. But her latest effort, The Case Against Hillary Clinton, is an empty book that, if it has any effect at all, can only get Republicans into deeper trouble.

Following a perfunctory discussion of Hillary Clinton's failed health-care initiative, Noonan begins her next chapter by stating: "But I cannot think of a time when she showed herself to be a champion by gambling her political capital." Really? Though in one part of the book Noonan acknowledges Mrs. Clinton's role as head of an education commission in Arkansas that won legislative approval and financing for sweeping school reforms, in another section Noonan launches this salvo: "She has not created one program. She has not passed one bill. She has not won one legislative victory." She refers obtusely to Filegate as One of the Great Unsolved Mysteries of the Clinton administration, even though the case has been solved with the Clintons exonerated even by the independent counsel.

Delivered without the faux scholarly apparatus accompanying other Hillary Clinton attack books, much of The Case Against Hillary Clinton is literally made up. Page after page is littered with imaginary dialogue and fantasies that belong in a 50-minute session---a 17-page Hollywood speech that Mrs. Clinton never delivered, a fake interview with Tom Brokaw after she loses the Senate race, a fictional scene in which movie producer Harvey Weinstein disrespectfully lights a cigarette in the First Lady's face, a moment when it dawns on Hillary as she flies into LaGuardia that she looks like the Statue of Liberty, a conversation between James Carville and Harold Ickes at Mrs. Clinton's graveside, even a passage where Noonan channels Eleanor Roosevelt to tell us what she would say about Hillary Clinton: "One senses there is something strange there." In the few places where Noonan attempts to deal with real facts and events, her only named source is the fabulist Dick Morris, which leads one to wonder if anything in this book is true.

The Case Against Hillary Clinton boils down to this: Peggy Noonan doesn't like this "highly credentialed rube," this "mere operator," this "person who never ponders what is right," this "squat and grasping" woman. Underlying this judgment is not a "case" in any meaningful sense, but rather a catalogue of personal resentments that, like so much of what is written about Hillary Clinton, tells us more about the author than the subject. Describing her own experience in Massapequa High School on Long Island, Noonan writes, "The Hillarys would be nice to us, would only look at us in the hall and say hello when they were running for senior class president. And then only because every vote counts. So she'd actually talk to people like us, and I wish I could say we told her to drop dead, but we didn't, did we?" Now, Noonan has her chance. Noonan to Hillary: Drop dead.

That Noonan's brand of high-style conservatism is now indistinguishable from that of Rush Limbaugh and Gary Aldrich does not bode well for the party. At this late date, one would think that the Republicans would have realized that angry sentiments, while they still motivate conservative bulk-rate book buyers, are not enough to move voters against the Clintons.

David Brock is the author most recently of The Seduction of Hillary Rodham.

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