- The Washington Times - Monday, June 21, 2004

REWRITING HISTORY

Dick Morris with Eileen McGann

Regan Books, $24.95, 304 pages

Dick Morris is a weatherman. He predicts a perfect storm for Hurricane Hillary in 2008, when the political winds, stars and currents align themselves in Hillary Clinton’s favor and she rides a huge wave back to the White House, this time as president.

Dick Morris is an astronomer. He looks at Hillary Clinton through the lens of a telescope and sees the dark side of her moon, which “has been scarred by the constant pounding of political meteorites.” She has reacted to the battering by creating a sinister side “that is chilling even to those who know her well.”

Dick Morris is a philosopher. He sees in Sen. Clinton “a Manichean view of issues, splitting the political world into dueling forces of good and evil.”

The president she most resembles, he says, is not her husband, but Richard Nixon. “Like Nixon, Hillary hides a personality driven by paranoia, fear, and hatred for enemies, and a willingness to get even and do what it takes to prevail, behind a facade of sincerity and good nature.”

Dick Morris is a psychologist, too, who knows enough about political personalities to occasionally take their measure with exquisite accuracy. Like a collector of butterflies, he can pin down his prey with a piercing insight that locks it in place for others to see and remember.

“All public figures use makeup to cover a blemish or two,” he writes. “But only Hillary wears a mask of so many layers, that hides her true face altogether.”

What’s terrifying, if he’s right, is that Mrs. Clinton’s unseen side is “her real personality, her true self.” The other Hillary is merely a “brand” that’s packaged and repackaged.

She’s as willing to change her politics and policies as her hairdos and hats. She will “cut, trim, dice, slice, sew, alter, or otherwise conform any aspect of her persona, record, personality and rhetoric to fit this year’s political imperative.”

This is a mean, self-serving book. Mr. Morris has a repetitive but raw power to demonize Mrs. Clinton and to show off his expertise at her expense.

If Mrs. Clinton keeps “a mental enemies list,” Mr. Morris ought to be at the top. She may have fantasized the “vast right-wing conspiracy,” but it’s the many faces of Mr. Morris, political adviser-analyst-pundit, that form a dangerous one-man conspiracy.

He warns readers who are sympathetic to the Clintons not to expect a reprise of Bill Clinton’s presidency if “wife of” makes it to the Oval Office. He’s most vicious in describing the psychological differences between Bill and Hill, never missing an opportunity to do her dirt in the comparisons.

If Bill suffers from self-deception, Hill knows exactly who she is and decides every day what to hide and what to reveal. If Bill’s deceptions are “neurotic,” Hill’s are “opportunistic.”

Mr. Clinton hides his private life. Mrs. Clinton hides her character. The author contends that she got where she got only through her husband’s power and prestige.

Although Mrs. Clinton is fond of saying that she sacrificed a brilliant legal career in Washington when she moved to Arkansas, it’s a fact that she failed the D.C. Bar exam. She spins that failure like the lyrics for a country music song, standing by her man: “My heart was pulling me toward Arkansas.”

Although Mrs. Clinton gets good press as a senator, Mr. Morris thinks her only accomplishments have been to restore a tarnished image and to raise money for other Democrats. “Shying away from controversy, avoiding the spotlight, she has done precious little to justify the high hopes with which she was elected.”

In the author’s scenario, her handlers cast her as Miss Congeniality. It’s his cynicism that drives this book.

“Rewriting History” is a hodgepodge, with mixed metaphors, contradictory statements and sloppy predictions. It reads like a long, undisciplined book review of Mrs. Clinton’s memoir, “Living History,” padded with anecdotes we’ve read before so that the author can comment on them again.

But in the accumulation of Hillary Clinton’s unethical habits, he exposes character vices that should concern anyone who might ever be asked to vote for her for president.

Mr. Morris as pundit offers interpretations to shake up conventional wisdom, but he’s been wrong as often as right in his predictions and his judgments in this book may be equally unreliable. In any case, he hedges his bets.

In the book’s conclusion, he throws Hillary a valentine, just in case she runs as John Kerry’s vice presidential candidate and needs Mr. Morris’ help sooner rather than later.

“Our political landscape badly needs Hillary’s perspective, her passionate idealism,” he writes. “Her willingness to fight for the underdog and her compass for issues are rare indeed in our male-dominated profit-obsessed society.”

Say what?

Suzanne Fields is a syndicated columnist for The Washington Times.

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