Skip to main content
Home World U.S. Weather Business Sports Analysis Politics Law Tech Science Health Entertainment Offbeat Travel Education Specials Autos I-Reports
Inside Politics

Bernstein dissects Hillary Clinton

Story Highlights

• Bernstein: Research shows that Clinton's "Living History" didn't tell whole story
• Bernstein: Her autobiography painted idyllic childhood; her friend said it wasn't
• Bernstein: "What is so sad about it is, she is better than her own book"
• Bernstein's book: She refused to dissolve her marriage amid husband's affair
Adjust font size:
Decrease fontDecrease font
Enlarge fontEnlarge font

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Hillary Clinton is "very much a camouflaged woman" whose rewriting of her own history has created an inauthenticity that could be "problematic" for her presidential campaign, the author of her new biography said.

Carl Bernstein, who rocketed to fame with his coverage of the Watergate scandal, has penned "A Woman In Charge," a 640-page tome based on interviews with more than 200 of Clinton's friends, colleagues and critics. The book was released Tuesday.

He said the former first lady's 2003 autobiography, "Living History," was full of "omissions (and) obfuscations." (Watch Bernstein dissect how the autobiography differed from the reality as told by her friends Video)

"It is not mendacious," Bernstein said. "It is a self-portrait as she would like to see herself, but it has very little to do with the full reality of her life. And what is so sad about it is, she is better than her own book. She is more interesting than her own book. It is a great story."

One of those obfuscations was Clinton's generally idyllic description of her childhood in Illinois, Bernstein said.

"Her best friend from childhood, Betsy Ebeling, told me at great length ... about how abusive (Clinton's) father was of her mother, how he humiliated her," Bernstein said. "Her father was a sour, unfulfilled man, a martinet."

In her own book, even Clinton talked about how her father "didn't like to spare the rod," Bernstein noted.

"She says in her book that she thought it was sometimes used excessively, and she tried to intervene on behalf of her brother," he said.

Among the revelations in Bernstein's book is that Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, wanted to end their marriage in 1989, when he was governor of Arkansas, because he was having an affair with another woman. But she refused.

In his book, Bernstein wrote that "she would fight to keep her marriage and her family together. She had put too much of her own heart and mind and soul into her partnership with Bill to abandon it."

The main source for the information was Betsey Wright, who was Bill Clinton's chief-of-staff when he was governor, Bernstein said. It was Wright who famously coined the phrase "bimbo eruptions" to describe revelations about Clinton's sexual wanderings that rocked his 1992 presidential campaign.

The relationship between the Clintons is symbiotic, Bernstein told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

"They made each other whole," he said. "She has been the constant of his process since they were ... in law school together, and he has been the constant of her process, particularly now."

"He was in the foreground when he was president, and she was the manager. She was the disciplinarian. Now that role has reversed. But they are linked and complementary in their roles."

Bernstein: 'Clinton is one of the most qualified candidates'

Hillary's temperament evolved after she entered the Senate in 2001, allowing her to shed a reputation for arrogance that she acquired during her White House years, Bernstein said.

"They expected her to be the bull in the china shop," Bernstein said. "Instead, she even went so far as to get the male senators their coffee and asked whether they wanted cream or sugar -- literally. She first made friends with the men and women who had voted against her husband and for conviction (on impeachment)."

Given her background and accomplishments, Clinton is one of the most qualified candidates in the 2008 White House field, Bernstein said. However, her cautious, controlled nature may be her greatest obstacle, he added.

"She has run a campaign in which she has tried to generate as little controversy as possible and appeal very much to all people for all things," Bernstein said. "And from that comes an inauthenticity that many people, I think, find now in her that is problematic for the campaign."

After initially indicating that she would talk to Bernstein for the book, Clinton ultimately decided not to participate, which the author said "gets back to something basic."

"Hillary has never wanted anyone else to tell her story except herself," Bernstein said.

Clinton's campaign has refused to comment on specific details in Bernstein's book, dismissing them as "cash for rehash," a response Bernstein called "disingenuous."

"I would have hoped they would have read the book ... and said, 'Look, there are things in this book we don't agree with, but we know Carl Bernstein. He has got a certain record in terms of the best obtainable version of the truth,' which is really what good reporting -- good biography -- is all about," he said.




Quick Job Search
  More Options
International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise with Us About Us Contact Us
© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
SERVICES » E-mails RSSRSS Feed PodcastsRadio News Icon CNNtoGo CNN Pipeline
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more