Behind Rewriting History with Dick Morris

Dick Morris Why did you decide to deconstruct Hillary Clinton's autobiography?

Dick Morris: Well there’s never been a phonier book written. “Living History” is not history, and much of her history is not in the book. Hillary comes across in her book as a chatty, laughing, lighthearted mother, wife and daughter, and there is no indication of who she really is. It became so clear to me as I read through the book that she has become a brand, not a person. And the characteristics of the brand are very clear: act normal, pretend you’re just like everyone else, (like you stay home and bake cookies), talk about celebrities a lot, (she has dozens of them in the book), and when anyone ever criticizes you, say that they’re criticizing working women, not you. Is she obsessed with her image?

Morris: I think she lives next to Bill Clinton and she sees how effortlessly charismatic he is and how he can attract people to him – and has this instinctual ability to relate to people. And she doesn’t have that. She’s a plodder. She’s Nixon and he’s Kennedy. She has to count her steps and he’s Fred Astaire. So I think she realizes that the only way to be Bill Clinton is to invent stories about herself and consciously manipulate the brand. For instance, she wanted to be kind of glamorous so she made up this story that she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary. The only problem was Sir Hillary climbed Mt. Everest five years after she was born. In 1947 when she as born Sir Edmund Hillary was totally unknown. Another example is when 9/11 happened she was desperate to identify herself as a New Yorker. She went on the “Today Show” the week after 9/11 and told Katie Couric that Chelsea was jogging around the World Trade Center towers and saw the planes hit and only escaped harm because she went into a coffee shop. Then four months later Chelsea wrote an article for "Talk" magazine and said she saw the whole thing on TV from a friend's apartment four miles away. Why does somebody invent this stuff? I think it’s because she sees Bill Clinton does this effortlessly and she feels she has to do it through contrivance. You describe the sense of entitlement Hillary feels.

Morris: Hillary feels and has always felt that she sacrificed a brilliant blue-chip legal career to come to this desolate out of the way place in Arkansas and be married to a husband who made very little money as governor. Bill’s salary was capped at $35,000 a year; there was a sense of entitlement and impoverishment about that. Why do you think she made politics her life? Is it ego, or is she really interested in changing things?

Morris: I don’t think Hillary is at all egotistical. She doesn’t have an authentic enough personality to have an ego. It’s all a contrivance. I believe Hillary is a dedicated and sincere Leftist who, unlike Bill, has an internalized agenda, an internalized feeling of what she wants to accomplish ideologically. I think that she, unlike Bill, is not in politics for personal gain, but because she wants to advance the left-wing agenda. What is her personal definition of success? In other words, when is she most fulfilled?

Morris: When she’s achieving political power and using it to advance a left-wing agenda. She is so deeply convinced of her own virtue, and so deeply convinced that she is the person who really cares about people, that she sees anyone who opposes her as vicious, evil, wrong and a personal vindictive enemy. Hillary once said, "I don’t see how a person can be a Republican and a Christian at the same time." In your opinion, what is the biggest misconception about her?

Morris: That she is a normal person. That she has the same goals, issues and desires in her life as a normal human being. She tries to make people see her as someone who is not particularly ambitious, not particularly ideological, not particularly serious. Why? Is it out of insecurity, or is it a calculation on her part?

Morris: It is definitely a calculation. Insecurity is a doubt. Hillary has no doubts. She has come to the conclusion that the person she really is would not be acceptable, and therefore she reinvents herself cosmetically and internally. And it all stems from a deep feeling inside her that her personality is wrong for politics. Many people have worked for her, as you did. What enables you to see her more clearly than others?

Morris: Because I knew Hillary before she was the brand. I knew her when she was really just the person, when her hair was different and her personality was different. I began to know Hillary well during her husband’s campaign for governor in 1982. He had been defeated in 1980, and Hillary and I basically ran the campaign together with Betsy Wright to get him into office. Hillary was absolutely a campaign manager. She had everyone on their toes, and made sure the trains ran on time, so to speak. She would sit next to me writing negative ads attacking the opponents, and we would discuss strategy. And she was very, very, very, good at it. In her memoirs she makes absolutely no reference to that. She says the 1982 campaign was a family endeavor. You know, “I loaded Chelsea’s diaper bag and all into the van and Bill and I drove around the state meeting voters in the beautiful spring weather at these lovely small towns and barbecue joints.” She may have done that four or five times, but basically we ran a television campaign. So I wonder why Hillary doesn’t tell the truth about that, because it’s a compliment. Bill Clinton is a terrible manager, whereas Hillary is a sensational manager. Bill Clinton has no ideological compass, whereas Hillary has a very well-set bunch of internalized priorities. What’s wrong with talking about that? Why doesn’t she say that? That’s who she really is. I believe it’s because she knows that those traits are unelectable on her, and so she invents another persona entirely. Her ultimate goal is to be president of the United States?

Morris: Yes, and specifically in 2008. You wonder why Bill Clinton is issuing his memoirs in June of this year? He’s been out of office for three and half years. What is the hurry? Why do they have to come out before Election Day?  I believe he is coming out with them in June to jam Kerry’s message so that the only thing anybody talks about in June, July, and August is Bill Clinton. They don’t want Kerry to be elected. If he is, then Hillary may never get to be president. If she fails, what of her qualities will have caused her downfall? And in the reverse, if she succeeds what will be the cause?

Morris: If she succeeds, the quality that will have brought her there is self-discipline. With Hillary, every breath that she takes is a structured decision which she implements completely. Her willpower triumphs over all. Conversely, if she falls down it will be for the same things that brought Richard Nixon down — that growing obsessive paranoia that could lead her to do things that backfire and blow up in her face. I quote Tina Brown in the book who was speaking about the Martha Stewart conviction. She says women are perfectionists. Men feel “hey, I did something wrong, I didn’t follow all the rules, I’ll go down to the commission and I’ll explain it, and we’ll work it out, and it’ll be fine.” Women often say, “Oh my god. I screwed up. They are going to tear me apart. I better cover it up. I better hide it. I better not admit it.” The idea is that this is most likely what induced Martha Stewart to commit those crimes, and probably that same force is at work with Hillary.

Dick Morris is a political analyst for FOX News Channel and former advisor to President Bill Clinton.