From A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Carl Bernstein’s best-selling, definitive biography
It’s final, prescient pages excerpted here:
Since her Arkansas years, Hillary Rodham Clinton has always had a difficult relationship with the truth. She is hardly different from most conventional politicians in this regard. But she has always aspired to be better than conventional: her memoir, Living History, was meant to demonstrate that. But judged against the facts, it underlines how she has often chosen to obfuscate, omit, and avoid. It is an understatement by now that she has been known to apprehend truths about herself and the events of her life that others do not exactly share. Living History is an example of that.
In her artfully crafted public utterances and written sentences there has almost always been an effort at baseline truthfulness. Yet almost always, something holds her back from telling the whole story, as if she doesn’t trust the reader, listener, friend, interviewer, constituent – or perhaps herself – to understand the true significance of events.
Hillary values context: she does see the big picture. Hers, in fact, is not the mind of a conventional politician. But when it comes to herself, she sees with something less than candor and lucidity. She sees, like so many others, what she wants to see.
In Living History, for example, she fails to note the common view of many of her friends from childhood and members of her extended family that her father was verbally and mentally abusive of her mother, and that other women might have chosen to walk out of such a painful marriage. Instead, Hillary alludes to the “difficult" nature of her father, as if he were merely a complicated curmudgeon. Never does she mention the traumas she endured during her husband‘s final, desultory term as the
governor of Arkansas, which led her to consider divorce five years before the Clintons came to Washington.
To get caught up in the wave of one‘s time and to experience it and even try to influence its course is to live history. This, Hillary Clinton has done. But to tell history is something else again. Living History was intended to get on the record an acceptable version of events that would render the past reasonably explicable, blur the edges, put the past behind her, and allow her to move on with her airbrushed persona, regardless of election results.
As a girl and then as a woman, Hillary has almost always been desperate to be a passionate participant and at the center of events: familial, generational, experiential, political, historical. Call it ambition, call it the desire to make the world a better place – she has been driven. Rarely has she stepped aside voluntarily into passivity. Introspection, however, has not been her strong suit: faith in the Lord, and in herself, is.
Three pillars have held her up through one crisis after another in a life creased by personal difficulties and public and private battles: her religious faith; her powerful urge toward both service and its accompanying sense (for good or ill) of self-importance: and a fierce desire for privacy and secrecy. It is the last of these that seems to cast a larger and larger shadow over who she really is.
On January 20, 2007, Hillary Rodham Clinton announced her candidacy for president of the United States, fourteen years to the day after Bill Clinton was inaugurated as the nation’s forty-second president. “Let’s talk. Let’s chat. Let’s start a dialogue about your ideas and mine,” she said. She chose to make her announcement over the Internet, in a video, sitting on a living room couch – alone. “I‘m in, and I‘m in to win,” she said on her Web site.
Increasingly, what Hillary serves up for public consumption, especially since setting her sights on the Senate and the presidency, is usually elaborately prepared or relatively soulless. This is the true shame.
Hillary is neither the demon of the right’s perception, nor a feminist Saint, nor is she particularly emblematic of her time – perhaps more old-fashioned than modern. Hers is a story of strength and vulnerability, a woman’s story. She is an intelligent woman endowed with energy, enthusiasm, humor, tempestuousness, inner strength, spontaneity in private, lethal (almost) powers of retribution, real-life lines that come from deep wounds, and the language skills of a sailor (and of a minister), all evidence of her passion – which, down deep, is perhaps her most enduring and even endearing trait.
As Hillary has continued to speak from the protective shell of her own making, and packaged herself for the widest possible consumption, she has misrepresented not just facts but often her essential self.
Great politicians have always been marked by the consistency of their core beliefs, their strength of character in advocacy, and the self-knowledge that informs bold leadership. Almost always, Hillary has stood for good things. Yet there is often a disconnect between her convictions and words, and her actions. This is where Hillary disappoints. But the jury remains out. She still has time to prove her case, to effectuate those things that make her special, not fear them or camouflage them. We would all be the better for it, because what lies within may have the potential to change the world, if only a little.
The Pope’s secret letters to Mme. Tymieniecka, first revealed in His Holiness: John Paul II and the History of Our Time, by Carl Bernstein and Marco Politi
In 1974, a vivacious, cosmopolitan Polish aristocrat entered the cardinal’s office convinced she had found a kindred philosophical
spirit. Her name was Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka, and for the next four years she and the cardinal embarked on a philosophical dialogue that resulted in a
recasting and definitive English-language edition of his most important written work, The Acting Person.
Later, after he was elected pope, reporters would scour the earth looking for women who had been Karol Wojtyla’s lover, wife, or
companion. They found none because there were none.
But in the process, they overlooked the crucial role of Dr. Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka in his life: her influence on his philosophy and
thus on his papacy. They missed the fact that she helped to make him prominent—and papabile.
Until Mme. Tymieniecka, the major figures in the adult life of Karol Wojtyla had been men. Her interaction with the cardinal—weeks spent
writing together, taking walks, laboring over the text of The Acting Person—and her introduction of Wojtyla first to the European philosophical
community and then to American audiences were formative experiences for the young cardinal.
The story of their remarkable collaboration is recorded in their correspondence, more than ninety pieces of which are under lock and key
in a Harvard University library; in Tymieniecka’s uncontroverted written account, in her interviews with the authors of this book; and in the personal
testimony of Dr. George Huntston Williams, a professor at Harvard Divinity School, author of The Mind of John Paul II: Origins of His Thought and
Action (1981), and a friend of Tymieniecka’s.
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Statement from Carl Bernstein about the sale of The Washington Post
On a very personal level, there is obviously a lot of sentiment at this moment—appropriate sadness, for sure. Jeff Bezos in his statement to the Post’s employees, was eloquent about the principles of the Washington Post and the Graham family, and what their stewardship of the paper has meant, for the city and the country.
I have high hopes that today’s announcement will represent a great moment in the history of a great institution: recognition that a new kind of entrepreneurship and leadership, fashioned in the age of the new technology, is needed to lead not just The Post, but perhaps the news business itself, in combining the best of enduring journalistic values with all the potential of the digital era -- including a profit model that will finance a renaissance of the kind of reporting that is essential for Washington, for American journalism, and for the world.
Jeff Bezos seems to me exactly the kind of inventive and innovative choice needed to bring about a recommitment to great journalism on the scale many of us have been hoping for— while employing all the applicable tools and best sensibilities of a new era and the old. The Washington Post is the ideal place for it to happen.
Parliament's remarkable three-hour hearing on July 19, focusing on the role of Rupert Murdoch and top News International executives in the immense phone-hacking scandal, proved an epic Westminster moment. It's now possible to see with historic clarity how a cunning press lord and a gang of enabling thugs, under a cloak of journalistic high-mindedness, managed to capture and control the three essential institutions of contemporary British life: the political system, the media, and the police. A transfixed audience of millions learned how a bullying owner of old-fashioned printing presses and satellite television networks could break Britain's civic compact. It was absolutely riveting -- and deeply depressing.
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The hacking scandal currently shaking Rupert Murdoch's empire will surprise only those who have willfully blinded themselves to that empire's pernicious influence on journalism in the English-speaking world. Too many of us have winked in amusement at the salaciousness without considering the larger corruption of journalism and politics promulgated by Murdoch Culture on both sides of the Atlantic.
The facts of the case are astonishing in their scope. Thousands of private phone messages hacked, presumably by people affiliated with the Murdoch-owned News of the World newspaper, with the violated parties ranging from Prince William and actor Hugh Grant to murder victims and families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The arrest of Andy Coulson, former press chief to Prime Minister David Cameron, for his role in the scandal during his tenure as the paper's editor. The arrest (for the second time) of Clive Goodman, the paper's former royals editor. The shocking July 7 announcement that the paper would cease publication three days later...
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The Idiot Culture (A Pre-Murdoch Report)
This cover story of June 6, 1992 for The New Republic magazine seems especially relevant in light of the Murdoch scandal of 2011. The piece, written for the twentieth anniversary of the Watergate break-in, identified the pernicious influence of tabloid/sleaze journalism that, even then, was beginning to dominate so much of the American media.
It is now nearly a generation since the drama that began with the Watergate break-in and ended with the resignation of Richard Nixon, a full twenty years in which the American press has been engaged in a strange frenzy of self-congratulation and defensiveness about its performance in that affair and afterward. The self-congratulation is not justified; the defensiveness, alas, is. For increasingly the America rendered today in the American media is illusionary and delusionary -- disfigured, unreal, disconnected from the true context of our lives. In covering actually existing American life, the media -- weekly, daily, hourly -- break new ground in getting it wrong. The coverage is distorted by celebrity and the worship of celebrity; by the reduction of news to gossip, which is the lowest form of news; by sensationalism, which is always a turning away from society's real condition; and by a political and social discourse that we -- the press, the media, the politicians, and the people -- are turning into a sewer.
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An open letter from Bernstein to Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger
There is plenty of time – and there are abundant venues – to debate relevant questions about Mr Snowden's historical role, his legal fate, the morality of his actions, and the meaning of the information he has chosen to disclose.
But your appearance before the Commons today strikes me as something quite different in purpose and dangerously pernicious: an attempt by the highest UK authorities to shift the issue from government policies and excessive government secrecy in the United States and Great Britain to the conduct of the press – which has been quite admirable and responsible in the case of the Guardian, particularly, and the way it has handled information initially provided by Mr Snowden.
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A Woman In Charge
Now a New York Times and National Bestseller, Carl Bernstein’s stunning portrait of Hillary Rodham Clinton shows us, as nothing else has, the true trajectory of her life and career.
Marshaling all the skills and energy that propelled his history-making Pulitzer Prize reporting on Watergate, Bernstein gives us the most detailed, sophisticated, comprehensive, and revealing account we have had of the complex--and heretofore camouflaged--human being who has already helped define one presidency and may well become, herself, the woman in charge of another.
He has given us a book that enables us, at last, to address the questions Americans are insistently--even obsessively--asking about Hillary Clinton: What is her character? What is her political philosophy? Who is she? What can we expect of her?