It still takes a village -- Hillary's authorship lies
By Warner Todd Huston
Actually, I'll have to take that back because Hillary won't be receiving all due praise for her efforts on the book. She will be getting far, far more than she deserves. Why, you might ask? Because she wrote barely a word of the book that bears her name, that's why. And worse, since 1996 Clinton has lied repeatedly claiming she wrote it all by herself, refusing to acknowledge that it was ghostwritten by someone else.
Still, the ersatz praise has already started. As seen on Amazon.com's page for the book, Audiofile magazine recently said of the new edition, "For the most part, this is not the former first lady and presidential hopeful we all know. In a softer, almost neighborly voice, Clinton reveals intimate details about her childhood and the childhood of her husband." This is really quite an observant review for the single fact that Clinton's voice is altogether missing from the book. Of course the reason for that is that the harsh, shrill voice of the Hillary Clinton "we all know" was nowhere near the typewriter of Barbara Feinman Todd, the woman who really wrote the book.
But, where is the acknowledgment of the real writer of the book Hillary is famous for? Nowhere to be found, making Hillary more correctly infamous for the book instead of praiseworthy. A description of the book prior to the new edition's release, one probably written by the publisher, says, "Written when Hillary Clinton was the First Lady, It Takes a Village acknowledges the many challenges and difficulties of raising children in America and proposes an ideal of broad community responsibility for the total upbringing of healthy and secure children. Clinton draws on her own experiences as a child, mother, and lawyer, as well as those of concerned parents, teachers, and advocates for children–and she takes the time to listen to the important lessons that children can teach adults as well."
It's interesting that they don't exactly come out and say she wrote the thing, isn't it?
Since the book was first published in 1996, though, Hillary has repeatedly insisted she wrote the book herself. Boasting that she had "written a 320-page book in longhand." and that it took her "six months" to complete, Clinton has steadfastly refused to credit the actual writer, Barbara Feinman Todd. And this refusal to admit that small truth is odd since even long time Clinton flak, The New York Times, contradicts her claims. On April 22nd, 1995, as the book was in the planning stages, The New York Times reported that it was Feinman who was to do the heavy lifting for the project. In their '95 piece the Times then said,
"The book will actually be written by Barbara Feinman, a journalism professor at Georgetown University in Washington. Ms. Feinman will conduct a series of interviews with Mrs. Clinton, who will help edit the resulting text."
Even though since publication, Hillary Clinton has claimed to have written the tome herself, the actual writer begs to differ. In a Sept. 2002 piece that appears on the website for The Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP), Barbara Feinman Todd told the odd story of Hillary's blatant theft of credit due Feinman for her work on It Takes a Village. Trying her best to downplay Clinton's outrageous actions and lies, Feinman sorrowfully relates her tale:
"So before I would ultimately hang up the sheet for good, my client list would grow to include an African princess, a congresswoman, two senators, a first lady, a Middle East peace negotiator, and an erstwhile presidential candidate. The First Lady, Hillary Clinton, is the one, predictably, people still bring up to this day. The actual writing experience of working on It Takes a Village with Mrs. Clinton was not extraordinary in any respect. Together with our editor, we produced drafts in a round-robin style. We worked well as a team and things went about as smoothly as can be expected when you're producing a high-profile book in eight months and one of you is married to the leader of the free world. The problem came when Mrs. Clinton decided, for reasons still a mystery to me, not to acknowledge my help, or that of anyone else by name. Because the White House had issued a press release early on in the process stating that I had been hired to "help prepare the manuscript," when it was finished and there was no mention of me in the acknowledgments, the anti-Clinton forces went to town. The irony was that by not acknowledging me, rather than diminishing my role, she unwittingly elevated me to a sort of literary Joan of Arc with the likes of everyone from Don Imus to Maureen Dowd to Rush Limbaugh weighing in before Thank-YouGate blew over. Pundits had a field day opining how much of the book she had actually written. The truth was much more prosaic: Like any first lady, Mrs. Clinton had an extremely hectic schedule and writing a book without assistance would have been logistically impossible. The book, despite the fact that it was at best a mediocre political tract on the virtues of governmental responsibility in the raising of children through subsidized programs like Head Start, was a bestseller and its audio version won Mrs. Clinton a Grammy."
It is amusing that in her desire to be the queen of all she purloins, Hillary Clinton couldn't even share a modicum of credit with the woman who actually wrote her book. It is also instructive that her greed for recognition so absurdly gave her enemies a hook to hang their hat upon. On the other hand, it is as instructive as it is frightening that a person so hard of heart and so easily exploitable is so close to being the leader of our nation but her selfish action in this case is so prosaic in view of her record in public life.
As to Feinman's point that Hillary was "too busy" to write the book herself, who can doubt that as first lady the time to write the "mediocre political tract" that carries her name would have been hard to come by. It is certainly reasonable to assume she hadn't the time to sit about writing in those heady days of the Clinton co-presidency. Trying to keep Bill out of intern's rooms was probably nearly a full time job itself! I am sure we can all cut Hillary some slack there. So, why pretend to write it herself, why refuse to credit the actual writer?
It can't be anything other than her pathological drive for personal power.
Unfortunately, there is little doubt that she'll still refuse to admit her actual role with the release of this 10th Anniversary edition, either. And it is doubtful that we could ever expect the media to call her on it.
It may take a village to raise a child, but Hillary is likely still "too busy" to notice as she ruthlessly takes at least one villager's due credit. With this new edition of It Takes a Village, we are bound to realize that Hillary has taken a villager, once again. Taking away the credit of she who actually wrote the book and taken her own integrity and thrown it right out the window.
Warner Todd Huston is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!