Wrapped Up In Books

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As far as media splashes are concerned, there are worse days than the Friday before Memorial Day for two books painting not-particularly-flattering portraits of you to leak to the press. But that's probably small relief: Thanks to this Washington Post story, it looks like it's going to be a long long weekend for Hillary Clinton.

The story lays out the information presented in two new Clinton biographies, "A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton," by Carl Bernstein, and "Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton," by Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr.

According to the Post's Peter Baker and John Solomon, "[t]he Hillary Clinton who emerges from the pages of the books comes across as a complicated, sometimes compromised figure who tolerated Bill Clinton's brazen infidelity, pursued her policy and political goals with methodical drive, and occasionally skirted along the edge of the truth along the way. The books portray her as alternately brilliant and controlling, ambitious and victimized." The article lays out the details.

The details, though, wouldn't much matter if it weren't for the people putting their names behind them: Three well-respected members of the media elite. "Unlike many harsh books about Clinton written by ideological enemies," the Post notes, "the two new volumes come from long-established writers backed by major publishing houses and could be harder to dismiss."

This feels to me like a moment in which the conventional wisdom about Clinton hardens, perhaps inexorably. Like all candidates, Clinton has tried to control her image, but the press corps now has data from those they know and trust with which to poke holes in that image.

Over at Slate, they're taking a look at the potential candidate killers, the "problem the candidate can never seem to shake." Clinton's potential problem, according to John Dickerson, is that she is too dislikable: As the Baltimore Sun notes in a story about a focus group, "voters couldn't seem to get beyond concerns about her personality, her husband and her single-minded drive for power."

Some candidates, Dickerson notes, can overcome their Big Question. Others see their candidacy consumed by it. It's still far too early to know where Clinton will end up. But this development isn't going to help.

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