Hillary's Choice, by Gail Sheehy
(Click for Amazon book review)
BOOK REVIEW by Massscorecard.org:
This is a solid book about Hillary but we're disappointed in the author's fact-checking and quality control.
Gail Sheehy's self-described "saturation reporting" supposedly marks her as a prize-winner, but even just reading for excerpts we found several important errors:
My conclusion is that, if I can find three substantive errors like that, there are plenty more to be found.
And therefore this book should not be considered an authoritative biography, as its author and publisher claim it to be.
Instead, read it as an enjoyable research piece -- and I certainly DID enjoy it.
For example, the author cites Jimmy Driftwood, an Arkansas folk singer whom I had the opportunity to meet while working in Arkansas in the 1990s -- he is a hero to many Arkansans (and to me).
Jimmy Driftwood sang the opening song at Bill Clinton's gubernatorial inauguration -- Sheehy got that fact right, and also got right that Driftwood set the folksy tone for the inauguration.
So enjoy, but with a grain of salt...
- p. 209: Sheehy writes that some consider Hillary "'a little scary, a little Al-Haig-ish about her (referring to Nixon's chief of staff who seized the moment of his President's resignation to tell the world he was now in charge)."
That's mixing up the facts: Nixon did resign; and Haig did say that; but not at the same time:
Haig famously said, "I am in control here" when Pres. Ronald Reagan was shot and Vice President Bush's location was temporarily unknown.
It had nothing to do with Nixon; and Sheehy should have researched that better. By not having done so, she brings into question all her other political commentary.
- p. 222: Sheehy writes about Bill Clinton: "On the day of Bill Clinton's inauguration, after all their years of struggle to reach the penultimate seat of power, the couple was late."
The problem is that word "penultimate" -- which means "next to last". Sheehy was trying to sound sophisticated by adding another syllable to the correct term,"ultimate seat of power," which accurately describes the U.S. Presidency.
By saying "penultimate," I thought she was referring to Al and Tipper Gore, who as V.P. and Second Lady would be better described as "penultimate."
Sheehy should have edited that better. By not having done so, she brings into question her writing ability.
- p. 266: Sheehy writes about a 1995 speech in New Delhi, "Hillary's charisma had found an embracing environment. The glow lasted throughout the goodwill visit to five Southeast Asian countries."
That's a very nice phrase, but it's geopolitically incorrect.
"Southeast Asia" refers to Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand. That was not where Hillary went.
"South Asia" (not southeast) refers to India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. That is where Hillary went on that well-known tour, with First Daughter Chelsea Clinton.
Sheehy should have fact-checked that better. By not having done so, she brings into question her fact-checking ability.
-- Jesse Gordon, jesse@Massscorecard.org, Jan. 2009
Click here for 19 full quotes from Hillary Clinton in the book Hillary's Choice.
OR click on an issue category below for a subset.
Women’s rights are human rights.
Arkansas project: broaden experiences for children.
Pushed teacher testing in Arkansas.
AR ed reform: mandate kindergarten, no social promotion.
Families & Children|
Treat kids as “child citizens” not “minors” under the law.
No dividing line between government vs. parents & children.
Community support is key to valuing families.
China: criticized authoritarianism with women & children.
Health care reform is key to a “new politics of meaning”.
Universal coverage, cost containment, & managed competition.
Proposed Natl Health Board to oversee employee cooperatives.
Nixon should have been impeached for bombing Cambodia.
Principles & Values|
“Vast right wing conspiracy”.
Stands by her man despite “pain in marriage”.
Decried 1980s materialism & excesses of corporate America.
Hillary’s choice: Co-president or White House wife?.
Never left Bill because they were a team.
War & Peace|
Urged president to bomb Serbians.
Welfare & Poverty|
Community involvement helps, but only in short term.
The above quotations are from Hillary's Choice, by Gail Sheehy.