There was a lot that went on behind the scenes after Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the 2008 presidential election. As one of the superstars of the Democratic party, she’d been expected to breeze on in as the front runner for the election, but as we all know by now, the Obama campaign crushed her in the primaries. HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton, written by political journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, look into what happened the the aftermath of this defeat.
The authors note that after her failed presidential bid, Clinton didn’t yet know what her next move would be. One thing was for certain: she hadn’t expected having to return to the Senate. Those still rooting for her encouraged the new administration to give her a position of importance, and when Obama offered her the Secretary of State position, both camps had to proceed cautiously. There was still a lot of animosity and mistrust between the Clinton and Obama worlds in the early days, but Clinton eventually managed to win most people over by working tirelessly to fill her new role and showing everyone that she could support Obama and his policies. She traveled the world, earned Obama’s trust and respect, and fulfilled her tasks as Secretary of State almost without a hitch until Benghazi happened. In the time since she’s stepped down as Secretary of State she’s laid low politically, but pretty much everyone is waiting for her to announce her intent to run in the 2016 presidential election.
It’s pretty clear from the outset that this is a pro-Hillary book. Allen and Parnes don’t hold back from recounting any mistakes Clinton has made in her political career, but they definitely write the book with a reverent tone. And a more important word about the tone: since they used a lot contributions from Washington insiders as part of their research, parts of the book come across as insider gossip. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — the beginning of the book alludes to Clinton revenge towards those who broke from the ranks and ended up supporting Obama, to which my reaction was, “Ooooh, do tell!” — but sometimes it went overboard in describing the animosity between the Clinton and Obama camps in the early days of Obama’s administration. At other times, the book felt draggy and too bogged down in details and anecdotes. I would have liked a more critical view of Hillary — not so much negatively critical (á la GOP-style bashing), but definitely less of the rose-colored-glasses version presented in this book.
HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton was released in February 2014 by Crown Publishing, an imprint of Random House.