Thursday, June 30, 2005

Review of a Book Review Review: The Truth About Hillary

The Truth About Hillary is making waves across the political spectrum. The "mainstream" media's intentional lack of coverage has had little effect in stopping the public interest in this critical biography. If anything, the news of some media coverups have heightened other media's attention to Ed Klein's book.

Amidst the criticism, suppression, and acclaim of The Truth About Hillary, Dr. Albert Mohler, Jr. recommends that Christians avoid this book and spend their time on more worthwhile tasks. Mohler makes no attempt to defend Senator Clinton, nor would we expect him to, but he does warn against an unhealthy joy in mudslinging and speculation.

I agree with bryanm's analysis:

Edward Klein's new book about Hillary Clinton, The Truth About Hillary is sure to have no problems selling. But, how should we as Christians think about this book? Albert Mohler has some very interesting comments on this.

The set-up for the book is a sure winner. To cultural conservatives--and especially to Christian conservatives--Hillary Clinton is representative of everything that is wrong with liberalism. Her ideological feminism, her early work developing a radical concept of children's rights, her "it takes a village" approach to raising children, and her activism for abortion and an entire constellation of liberal causes is enough to place her right at the center of conservative concern. The fact that she is married to former President Bill Clinton just adds fuel to the fire--and anxiety to the picture. The fact that she appears poised to enter the presidential race
raises the stakes even further. For all these reasons, Edward Klein's book seems just the thing--a repository of documentation that can justify and intensify Hillary hatred. What's wrong with this picture? Just about everything.
Ok, be honest, after reading that description of Hillary, you're ready to run out and buy the book aren't you? But let's consider a few other things.

Christians should repudiate this book and determine to take no pleasure in it. Why?

First, because we are morally obligated to tell the truth, to honor the truth, and to respect the truth. A quick look at The Truth About Hillary is enough to reveal the lack of documentation that would justify many of his charges and 'revelations.' Rumor is no substitute for evidence, and unnamed sources that dish out personal dirt are morally reprehensible and worthless in terms of credibility.

Christians need to carefully consider this first point. It is because we are morally obligated to tell the truth that we shouldn't be interested in a book that sets up a false truth at worst and an unsubstantiated one at best.

Second, because taking pleasure in this book will divert our attention from what really matters--the battle of ideas and the hard work of intellectual engagement. We should direct our energies to engaging the policies, proposals, and ideological commitments represented by Hillary Clinton--not to dirt-throwing contests over scandals without evidence.

This is a great point. In our current political and religious climate, it's very easy to lose focus. Given the stereotypes that Christians already have to deal with, it's imperative that we stay focused.

Third, because we know that character really does matter--and this means the character of those on both sides of a political contest or controversy. Those who oppose Hillary Clinton's policies and ideas will reveal true character by focusing on those policies and ideas--not on scandalous rumors. Inevitably, character will reveal itself, especially in the crucible of a heated political contest.

The fact that character will reveal itself, is actually quite comforting. As most reading this may in fact oppose Hillary as a political candidate, it would be detrimental to corrupt our Christian character for any reason.

Fourth, as Christians, we are not to take pleasure in the real or imagined wrongdoing of others. We must not give ourselves permission to read a book that will encourage us to feel morally superior about ourselves, even as it poisons our hearts about someone seen as a threat to what we cherish.

Read something edifying this summer. So many books . . . so little time.
Don't waste your time--or tempt your heart--with The Truth About Hillary.

This last point may be the most difficult for many to swallow. I think it's accurate though. Reveling in somone else's misfortune and moral misgivings will not get us anywhere in this, or any other debate.


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