A trio of books — one of them with an accompanying motion picture — has launched the 2016 presidential campaign among media junkies and journalists.
Plugging her book about her tenure as secretary of state, “Hard Choices,” Hillary Clinton has appeared in numerous media venues over the past two weeks, fumbling her lines like a newbie politician. Her main flub centered on her contention that she and former President Bill Clinton were “dead broke” when they left the White House. She compounded the obviously ludicrous contention by saying that they didn’t take the tax breaks most rich people do. These statements come from someone who makes an estimated $200,000 for each speech she gives. Moreover, she and her husband now have an estimated net worth approaching $100 million, which makes the Clintons by far the wealthiest former White House residents.
The Hill newspaper describes the Clintons in “damage control” over the gaffes. But, as several journalists note, it is better to make mistakes now — more than two years before Election Day 2016 — than in the midst of a presidential campaign should Mrs. Clinton decide to run.
The book itself has drawn mostly yawns from critics and readers. Mrs. Clinton “has opted for a safe and unchallenging volume, full of bromides and talking points,” The New York Times writes in its review. Mrs. Clinton’s “overarching philosophy as secretary of state seems primarily to involve engagement and hard work, the idea that showing up is as important as any treaty or ideology.” The former first lady treads carefully through the events of the death of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stephens in 2012 in Benghazi, Libya. But she fires both barrels at the Republicans for exploiting the incident for what she decries as partisan purposes.
Ed Klein, who has already chronicled Ms. Clinton and President Obama to mixed reviews and complaints about inaccuracies, has written a tantalizing account of what he titles the “Blood Feud” between the Clintons and the Obamas. He details how the two first couples hate one another.
Mr. Klein, a former top editor at Newsweek and The New York Times Magazine, tells a different story about Benghazi in which Mrs. Clinton considered resigning because of what she considered the administration’s ridiculous plan to blame the attack on an Internet video. After a conversation with her husband, however, Mrs. Clinton decided to go along with the strategy — one that fell apart in only a few days, Mr. Klein claims.
Even more tantalizing in Mr. Klein’s book, however, is the claim that Mrs. Clinton may have some potentially serious health problems. The former first lady, Mr. Klein alleges, suffers from continual blood clots that cause her to faint. Also, an underlying heart problem may exist that lowers blood flow to the brain, he writes.
The third book and its accompanying movie come from conservative thinker Dinesh D’Souza. “America: Imagine the World Without Her” attacks the philosophy of progressives, including Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton, and how that philosophy is ruining the United States. “Progressives are the architects of American decline, and progressivism is the ideology of American suicide,” Mr. D’Souza writes.
The film will launch officially July 2, but Mr. D’Souza — not unlike many politicians — has a bus tour crossing the country with free previews and discussions about the issues raised in his work. Although the mainstream press has not covered much of the D’Souza bandwagon, conservative talk show hosts have been joining him and promoting what is likely to be a financially and politically successful undertaking.
It may seem rather early for the 2016 presidential race to begin, but it may already in full swing with these books and a movie.
• Christopher Harper is a professor at Temple University. He worked for more than 20 years at the Associated Press, Newsweek, ABC News and “20/20.” He can be contacted at email@example.com. Twitter: @charper51.