- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 12, 2003

Hillary and Rick Bragg

The coup de grace for now-former executive editor of the New York Times, Howell Raines, was the revelation that one his star writers, Rick Bragg, had not actually done the reporting that appeared under his byline. He had re-written the work of stringers — who were not given any credit for their contributions. Most people seemed to think that an author ought to have written his own work, and that this is a pretty basic ethic for the writing business. I raise this question because it’s not at all clear who exactly wrote Hillary Rodham Clinton’s new book, “Living History.” Mrs. Clinton’s name appears on the cover. But it’s almost 600 pages long; it’s detailed — as much in what it doesn’t tell as in what it does. As Gregg Easterbrook noted in “ESPN.com”: “A work of that length would take an average writer perhaps four years to produce; a highly proficient writer might finish in two years, if working on nothing else. Mrs. Clinton signed the contract to “write” the book about two years ago. About the same time, she also was sworn in as a member of the United States Senate. Clinton took an oath to protect the Constitution and to serve the citizens of New York. So in the last two years, Mrs. Clinton has either been neglecting her duties as a United States Senator — that is, violating her oath — in order to be the true author of “Living History,” or she is claiming authorship of someone else’s work. Considering that Mrs. Clinton has made almost daily public appearances during the period when she was supposedly feverishly “writing” her book, let’s make a wild guess which explanation pertains.”

Cover lies

So, did she write it? The book’s acknowledgments say that the book took “a superb team” to write it. Three women — Lissa Muscatine, Maryanne Vollers and Ruby Shamir — are credited with spending two years of their lives at work on it. Muscatine is “[r]responsible for many of the words in my speeches as first lady and in this book.” How many words? Of course, politicians deploying ghostwriters to pen their memoirs is common practice. They all do it. But most do it honestly. As Mr Easterbrook observes, the last book that was in part ghost-written by Maryanne Vollers was titled: “Ice Bound: A Doctor’s Incredible Battle for Survival at the South Pole” by Jerri Nielsen with Maryanne Vollers. John McCain credited his co-author/ghost-writer on the book cover. But the junior senator from New York had none of that with her first book, “It Takes A Village,” and she’ll have none of it with this one either. In other words, the lies begin on the cover.

Big-spending Bush

The news that the current president is one of the biggest spenders in the federal government since LBJ is beginning to seep out into the chattering classes. Mark Levin notes in National Review of all places this week that “President Bush opposed, and then supported, expanding federal spending for agriculture subsidies. He opposed, and then supported, repeated extensions of unemployment insurance. He joined with Ted Kennedy in massively increasing federal spending for education. He opposed, and then supported, federalizing tens of thousands of airport security personnel. He supported billions in subsidies to the airline industry. He opposed, and then supported, the establishment of a huge and cumbersome new bureaucracy to oversee homeland security. He’s pressuring Republican House leaders to support a $10 billion gift to non-taxpayers in the form of child-tax-credit increases. He opposed, and now supports, an expensive expansion of the soon-to-be bankrupt Medicare program to include prescription drug subsidies to all seniors, regardless of ability to pay. Meanwhile, Social Security continues to pile up tens of billions in obligations, and the president has yet to submit to Congress a long-promised privatization program — once a domestic priority.” And the current deficit is $400 billion with no end in sight. What this administration has now done is to sever the connection voters have between Republicans and control of government spending. Bush has both cut taxes and increased spending — at a much higher rate than his Democratic predecessor. Our debt is soaring and the entitlement crunch just keeps getting nearer. Finally, finally, conservatives are beginning to notice. The voters did a while back.

Hillary suck-up watch

“The woman [HRC] is stronger than Queen Elizabeth I of England, a greater strategist than Catherine the Great of Russia, braver than Boadicea or the Amazons of old. And yet the demands of fame in America are such that she has to grovel to the appalling level of reality TV to get our undivided attention. The fault, dear readers, is not in Hillary, but in our ghastly mass media, which only applauds brainy women when we are reduced to tears.” — Erica Jong, the New York Observer.

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