Hillary Clinton's bad book
Her stodgy memoir is best understood as a briefingbook for surrogates and “influencers”
HILLARY CLINTON is a big fan of briefing books. As Barack Obama's envoy to the world shedevoured great, thick binders on every subject imaginable, she writes in “Hard Choices”, a newmemoir published on June 10th. As she worked tirelessly to prepare for summits and officialtrips to 112 countries, she admired the expertise of her diplomats. Only one thing botheredher. A few months into the job she asked the State Department to be more creative withgraphics, after envying the flashier briefings carried by Pentagon brass. Soon, she beams: “there were plenty of coloured maps and charts to go around.”
Mrs Clinton's 600-page doorstopper is full of this stuff: micro-revelations which are earnest,dull and self-serving, all at the same time. “Hard Choices” is a frustrating read. The memoirhas the cautious, polished, poll-tested feel of a campaign speech. A million copies have beenprinted. A multi-city speaking tour has begun. A first-day book-signing in Manhattan drew linesaround the block and hundreds of reporters. A large campaign-style bus idled outside. It wassent by “Ready for Hillary”, a ginger group that wants the former secretary of state, first lady,senator and presidential contender to run again for the White House in 2016.
克林顿夫人这本让人望而却步的600页自传中充满了这样的小故事—急切、无聊、自娱自乐却又无足轻重的爆料。《艰难抉择》会是一次让人挫败的阅读经历。这本回忆录就像一本小心翼翼、千锤万凿、经得住选民考研的竞选演讲。100万本印刷完毕，计划在多个城市的巡讲蓄势待发。第一天在曼哈顿的签售会吸引了长长的队和数百名记者。一辆庞大的竞选风格的巴士停在外面。它是由激进团体“为希拉里准备”(Ready for Hillary)赠送的，该团体支持入主白宫。
A press strategy was even crafted to handle a single chapter of the book, addressing the lowpoint of Mrs Clinton's time as secretary: the 2012 killings of four Americans by militants in theLibyan city of Benghazi, including America's ambassador. The chapter was leaked early andDemocratic officials and “surrogates” (campaign jargon for folk who can speak for acandidate) briefed on Benghazi talking-points by a former Obama spokesman, Tommy Vietor,and Mrs Clinton's press guru Philippe Reines.
Still Mrs Clinton says she has not yet decided whether to run. She did not write the book forfollowers of Washington's political soap opera, she says severely. Rather, it is for Americanskeen to learn more about diplomacy in the Obama era, and the exercise of American power inthe 21st century, she insists. Such pieties are not wholly convincing. For starters, much of thebook smells of raw politics, rather than diplomatic history. Mrs Clinton stepped down as chiefdiplomat in 2013 with high public approval ratings (in part because her job lofted her abovethe partisan mire for four years), but a list of vulnerabilities too. “Hard Choices” doggedlyworks its way down that list.
In the Benghazi chapter Mrs Clinton accuses conservative critics of mounting a “politicalslugfest on the backs of dead Americans”. She has a point. But in turn she constructs a politicalstraw man, accusing critics of suggesting that diplomats stage an un-American “retreat” fromthe world. She leaves unanswered the more relevant question of whether the West'sintervention in Libya, which she championed, left the country better off.
After Ukraine lost Crimea to Russia, many Republicans accused Barack Obama and Mrs Clintonof having emboldened Russia with their 2009 bid to “reset” relations. Mrs Clinton retorts thatRussia rolled into Georgia when George W. Bush was still in office, calls the “reset” a worthyattempt to work on areas of agreement while setting tough issues to one side, and blames itsfailure on Vladimir Putin, one of the world's “hard men”.
Strikingly, other chapters involve veiled swipes at Mr Obama and his team. Mrs Clinton revisitspainful disputes from the 2008 Democratic primary, when she felt subjected to sexist attack byObama allies. She confirms a much-reported dispute from 2012, when she (in alliance with thethen CIA chief, David Petraeus, and the then defence secretary, Leon Panetta) wanted to trainand arm non-extremist Syrian rebels. Mr Obama decided the risks outweighed possible gains—a scepticism shared by White House aides. In the book she links this to a remarkablyreductive account of Mr Obama's 2008 victory, writing: “After all, the President had beenelected in large part because of his opposition to the war in Iraq and his promise to bring thetroops home.”
Hawkishly, Mrs Clinton questions Mr Obama's decision to announce a fixed exit date forAmerican troops in Afghanistan. She suggests that callow young Obama aides were wrong tourge a swift end to Hosni Mubarak's rule in Egypt. Finally, she addresses those who say sheaccomplished little. This is a popular attack: a recent conservative video shows young Hillaryfans struggling to name her greatest accomplishment. She retorts with a long list of mid-sizedsuccesses, from democracy promotion in Burma to a 2012 ceasefire in Gaza, or projects toadvance women's rights.
If some chapters are too nakedly political for a work of foreign-policy analysis, then others aretoo worthy for many general readers. At times it feels as if none of those 112 countries is goingto be missed out. Mrs Clinton offers accounts of African trade flows, a coup in Honduras,climate talks in Denmark, the fine work that Barbados has done with solar water heaters andher opinion of Canada (“our northern neighbour is an indispensable partner”). Those hopingfor gossip will be disappointed. Few insiderish nuggets leaven the mix—though Mrs Clintondoes explain why the secret service dislikes VIPs visiting Buddhist temples (they feel unready foremergencies without their shoes).
Coming soon to a book group near you
To solve the mystery of what “Hard Choices” is for, think back to those Democratic surrogatesbeing schooled on Benghazi talking-points. This is a briefing book for surrogates, and—beyondthem—for the legions of “influencers” so prized by modern political campaigns: the amateuropinion-formers whose friends, colleagues and relatives listen to their political views, or followthem online. Understood as a briefing book, the memoir's oddities make more sense. It existsto offer talking points to each possible element of a future Clinton coalition—from folk worriedabout climate change to women who voted for Mitt Romney, who could imagine voting forHillary, but whose husbands are obsessed with Benghazi. It never needed to be a good read.
1.prepare for 准备;为做准备
例句:The players are in defiant mood as theyprepare for tomorrow'sgame.
2.ask to 邀请…参加…
例句:Ask to speak to the sister on the ward.
3.plenty of 许多;大量的
例句:There were plenty of servants to wait on her.
4.decide to 决定
例句:Little boys, being what they are, might decide to play on it.