This Week in Hillary-World: Tepid Book Reviews, a Gaffe and a Heated Exchange
Each week, Ravishly.com explores Hillary Clinton’s universe to provide a round-up of the week’s most compelling news, offering analysis on media commentary, punditry, polling and more. Yes, the election is still a bazillion years away, but when it comes to the story of the potential first female president ever, it’s never too early to start the conversation.
Hillary’s Big Deal Interview: Not Actually That Big of a Deal
Hillary’s sit-down with Diane Sawyer to discuss her new memoir on Monday seemed like the right time and place to announce a presidential run. Momentum for an announcement has been escalating in recent weeks, the interview was airing in prime time on a major network, and Hillary’s new memoir, Hard Choices, provides a ready-made platform for launching a campaign.
But when the question arose, Hillary did what she’s become adept at: she played coy. She did offer more of a sense of when she might announce a run, though—sometime in 2015. That means, potentially, several more months of hemming and hawing on the issue. That said, it makes sense for her to cool her heels; the moment she announces, the heat will only get turned up further. By waiting, she allows herself to generate interest without facing the perils of an active campaign.
In other interview news, Hillary had one of her first big gaffes of her (maybe) presidential run when she said she was “dead broke” after Bill left office. Considering her wealth and six-figure speaking fees, that hasn’t sat well with many, though the slip-up is minor enough to likely pass soon enough.
Hard Choices Memoir Hits the Market—What Do the Critics Think?
Hillary’s much-anticipated account of her time as Defense Secretary, Hard Choices, was released on Tuesday. The verdict from critics? It’s a competent, if cold and calculated, campaign-launching tome.
The Guardian: “Faintly robotic but impressive.”
Time: “Without the reality of a coming candidacy, the rest of the book just doesn’t make any sense. This is a campaign book, written by a candidate (via her speechwriters), processed through a political machine, and delivered to the public with the contradictory goals of depicting the author as a decisive leader and not betraying any evidence of leadership that would turn a voter off. “
Slate: “This is not a book from someone who has nothing to lose . . . Clinton’s account is the low-salt, low-fat, low-calorie offering with vanilla pudding as the dessert. She goes on at great length, but not great depth.”
Washington Post: “This is a careful book, written tactically to burnish friendships and avoid making enemies. Perhaps that’s inevitable for an autobiographer who is considering running for president, but there are times when the reader feels he is being ‘spun’ rather than enlightened.”
As for how it’s selling, complete figures haven’t been released yet, but it seems to be doing well: No. 2 on Amazon and No. 1 on Barnes & Noble nationally. That said, it’s been noted that interest hasn’t been as feverish as expected.
We have our hands on a copy of the memoir and will be sharing more details ASAP.
Hillary Gets Testy During NPR Interview
Terry Gross, host of NPR’s “Fresh Air,” has been known to ruffle the feathers of her interview subjects—and this week, Hillary got very ruffled when pressed on her gay marriage views. When Gross repeatedly asked Hillary to explain why she waffled for such a long time time on the issue, the exchange got heated.
Hillary: “I have to say, I think you are being very persistent, but you are playing with my words and playing with what is such an important issue.”
Gross: “I’m just trying to clarify so I understand.”
Hillary: “No, I don’t think you are trying to clarify. I think you’re trying to say I used to be opposed and now I’m in favor and I did it for political reasons, and that’s just flat wrong. So let me just state what I feel like you are implying and repudiate it. I have a strong record, I have a great commitment to this issue, and I am proud of what I’ve done and the progress we’re making,”
This forceful retort wasn’t exactly a gaffe for Hillary, but it did dominate news coverage in a way she probably wasn’t hoping for. If this is the intensity of the scrutiny surrounding her now, you can imagine what it’ll be like if/when (likely when) she announces she’s officially running.
All in all, this was a pretty rough week for Hillary, with her book and two high-profile interviews both leading to less-than-positive headlines. Hillary’s favorability ratings are also slipping. That said, it’s still very early—and if she does indeed announce a run in 2015, she’s given herself a lot of breathing room to gain ground.
What will happen next week? Stay tuned for our next round-up.
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