What Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton Have in Common

From Gregg Easterbrook’s Tuesday Morning Quarterback on ESPN:

[Sarah] Palin is presenting herself as the author of Going Rogue, though a ghostwriter named Lynn Vincent is the actual author. It is perfectly respectable to use a ghostwriter — so long as this is disclosed. George W. Bush’s A Charge to Keep declares on the cover, “by George W. Bush and Mickey Herskowitz.” John McCain’s several books all prominently declare on the cover that the actual author is his longtime associate, Mark Salter. This is called honesty. To pretend to be the author of something you did not write is deceit, and indicates egotism. Celebrities and athletes pretend to be authors of books actually written by someone else. But they’re airheads! People with important roles in public life should be honest.

When Hillary Clinton ran for president, she pretended to be the author of the books Living History and It Takes a Village. The former was actually written by Lissa Muscatine, Ruby Shamir and Maryanne Vollers; the latter was actually written by Barbara Feinman, a fact the publisher even announced! Yet Clinton masqueraded as the author. Even today, Clinton’s official State Department biography includes the phrase, “Secretary Clinton is the author of bestselling books, including her memoir, Living History, and her groundbreaking book on children, It Takes A Village.” This statement is simply false, and has no business in U.S. government information. That the former governor of Alaska pretends to be something she is not reflects poorly on Palin; that the current secretary of state pretends to be something she is not reflects poorly on her. Both claims cheapen public understanding of the value of writing, and devalue honesty.

Palin handed in “her” manuscript to the publisher in August, three weeks after leaving the Juneau statehouse; Clinton signed to “write” her latest opus just after becoming a senator representing New York. This means that if they actually are authors, then they cheated the taxpayer. No one could possibly write a 432-page book (“Going Rogue”) or a 592-page book (“Living History”) while carrying out the duties of a governor or senator. To pretend for ego reasons to be what you are not is a worrisome trait in someone at a high level of public responsibility (Clinton) or who seeks an even higher level (Palin). That Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin pulled the same self-aggrandizing stunt is distressing on too many levels to count.


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