I think we can all agree that Hillary Clinton has spent a long career in public service and is thus entitled to do what all politicians are entitled to do: write a boring and dreary book about her experiences. However, Clinton is not entitled to receive boring and dreary (and extensive) coverage of that same book, which is titled, yes, Hard Choices.
Well, Sunday was Mother's Day, and—who could have guessed it—Clinton released a section from her book about her mother. (Nothing says "I love you, mom" like higher book sales.) And Politico, no doubt feeling that it has found its true subject, devoted two stories to the memoir. One of them was Mike Allen's Playbook, in which he quoted several passages. Here is a taste:
“From the moment I first held Chelsea in my arms in the hospital in Little Rock, I knew my mission in life was to give her every opportunity to thrive. … Now that she’s expecting a child of her own, I’m preparing for a new role that I’ve looked forward to for years: grandmother. And I’ve found myself thinking a lot about my relationship with my own mom...I remembered a piece of wisdom that an older friend of mine shared in her later years that perfectly captured how my mother lived her life and how I hoped to live mine: ‘I have loved and been loved; all the rest is background music.’"
Exciting stuff. And how does Allen summarize these nuggets of wisdom?
TOP TAKEAWAY: This shows that the book isn't all about foreign policy. It's meant to be human, personal, relatable.
Give credit to Allen for including the words "meant to be." Maggie Haberman, in her news story on the excerpts, simply writes:
Hillary Clinton offers some deeply personal recollections about her late mother in her upcoming book, exploring how Dorothy Howell Rodham overcame a childhood “marked by trauma and abandonment” while maintaining a strong desire to do good in the world.
You have to hand it to Haberman for using the phrase "deeply personal" at the beginning of the sentence, and then ending it with some horrible clichés that are personal in the same way that a Hallmark Card is personal. I do not know what committee wrote Clinton's book, but from these excerpts there is nothing in the least bit original about it. And yet Haberman continues:
And while the news coverage of the book ahead of its release has focused largely on what she will say about her record as secretary of state, Clinton — who was criticized as difficult to connect to during the 2008 presidential race — is clearly planning to reveal a more personal side.
This "more personal side," in Haberman's telling, includes things like the following:
Never rest on your laurels. Never quit. Never stop working to make the world a better place. That’s our unfinished business.
What I can't figure out is whether political reporters are so exhausted and coarsened by their jobs that this sort of thing actually feels authentic. If so, I suggest spending more time with family and less time covering politics.