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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 June, 2005, 16:42 GMT 17:42 UK
Detractors divided over Hillary book
By Clare Murphy
BBC News

Sen Hillary Rodham Clinton at a conference in Washington last week
The Truth About Hillary has divided her detractors
The online bookshop Amazon helpfully tells customers ordering The Truth About Hillary what those who have bought the rather salacious book about Mrs Clinton have purchased in the past.

At the top of the list is Unfit For Command, a book which claimed Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry lied to get his Vietnam medals. It is widely held to have damaged the Massachusetts senator's campaign.

Those keen to avert a second Clinton presidency hope The Truth About Hillary, a collection of old and new claims about the former First Lady's marriage, sexuality and burning ambition, by veteran journalist Edward Klein, will do for the senator for New York what Unfit for Command did for Mr Kerry.

Mr Klein insists he had no agenda when he started work on the book, but now declares that a President Hillary Clinton would be "a danger to the republic".

Republican John LeBoutillier pushed it as "a must-read for all of us who want to stop her from being president" in a column on the day it was published, calling it "a well-crafted portrayal of Hillary's lifetime plan to get herself to the Oval Office - at all costs."

The author's liberal credentials as former editor of the New York Times magazine are also viewed by those banging the drum for The Truth About Hillary as providing the book with even greater authority.

But there are prominent conservatives who worry that the book, already at number three in Amazon's sales rank, will make the anti-Hillary lobby look like a version of the bawdy Jerry Springer show - and even boost her chances for the 2008 race.

"This stuff is disgusting. It makes your skin crawl," said Craig Shirley, a prominent Republican consultant. "It could backfire and make Hillary a more sympathetic figure."

Dick Morris, a former Clinton advisor turned critic, warned the book could obscure "the more serious questions about her qualifications to be a good president".

Things to come?

Mrs Clinton's camp say they do not comment on "works of fiction, let alone a book of blatant fabrications written by someone who writes trash for cash".

A well-crafted portrayal of Hillary's lifetime plan to get herself to the Oval Office
John LeBoutillier
This stuff is disgusting. It makes your skin crawl
Craig Shirley
Nonetheless some feel the book has at the very least given the Democrats a taster of what they might expect if they were to choose her to run for the presidency in 2008.

Although Mrs Clinton has not said if she will run, she is currently seen as one of the clear frontrunners. However, other possible contenders have already started testing the water.

On Sunday, Delaware senator Joseph Biden announced his intention to seek the nomination.

But with what is widely thought to be an eye to 2008, Hillary has already been toning down her ultra liberal image, seeking out the middle ground.

Not one jot

While Klein says his references to lesbianism in the book illustrate how "Hillary's politics were shaped by the culture of radical feminism and lesbianism at Wellesley College in the 1960s", the woman herself has altered her stance on one of America's key feminist issues: abortion.

Just a year ago she described those who opposed abortion as part of a drive to "undermine our basic rights as Americans".

But more recently she has spoken of her "respect" for "those who believe with all hearts and conscience that there are no circumstances under which any abortion should ever be available".

She has also been teaming up with prominent conservative Republicans on a number of issues, including healthcare, manufacturing jobs, and violence on the TV.

Theoretically at least, The Truth About Hillary may make some voters question the motives lying behind such statements and initiatives - if it doesn't, as some conservatives clearly fear, end up transforming Hillary into a victim.

But some believe it won't make one jot of difference.

"This book," according to a review in the influential Publishers Weekly, "will not, as has been hoped or feared, do for any Clinton presidential campaign what Unfit for Command did for the Kerry one."

"This clip and paste job," it continued, "is unlikely to change a single mind, let alone vote."

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