WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton released a one-chapter preview of her new book “Hard Choices” Friday, giving an insider’s account of the White House’s reaction to the Benghazi attack and sharply blasting Republicans who “insist on politicizing” the tragedy. Although initially reported to be a memoir, “Hard Choices”is actually an alternative history novel in which Hillary Clinton was elected president in 2008 over Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
The book, which begins with Sen. Barack Obama suspending his campaign for the Democratic nomination in June 2008, offers a gripping and vivid portrayal of the fictitious Clinton presidency. The novel features behind-the-scenes glimpses at several pivotal moments in the Clinton presidency, from the successful launch of the Hillarycare website, to the campaign to depose Syrian dictator Bashar Assad in 2013 after he crossed the so-called “Clinton Red Line” when he used chemical weapons on civilians.
In addition, significant detail is given to the hunt for Osama bin Laden, culminating in the raid that killed the terrorist mastermind in May 2011. Clinton fantasizes that the search for the al-Qaeda leader “was an obsession I pursued relentlessly from Day 1.
“I’ll never forget the moment when [then-CIA Director] Leon Panetta looked me in the eyes and said, ‘Madam President, we just can’t know it’s [bin Laden]. We need more time,’ ” reads an excerpt from Chapter 11, “Justice Done.” “I looked right back at him and said, ‘Leon, the American people have already waited 10 years. Send in the SEALs.’”
“Hard Choices” is widely seen as a publicity generator for Clinton’s upcoming presidential run. The Wall Street Journal described it as a first draft of her 2016 convention speech. Political pundits are already praising the choice to write an alternative history novel as a classic Clinton maneuver, saying that a fictitious universe of her own imagination creates distance from the controversy-soaked Obama administration.
“Hard Choices”isn’t all roses, however; Clinton readily admits her pretend mistakes, and doesn’t attempt to explain away or shift blame. Clinton is particularly harsh on herself for failing to reverse the losses of the ‘08-‘09 recession until late 2011 and concedes that her green energy initiatives “didn’t go nearly as far as they should have,” to combat climate change.
Reactions to “Hard Choices”have been divided. “Even in her fictitious world, Hillary Clinton succumbs to failed policies that punish our nation’s business leaders and damage America’s standing abroad,” said Speaker John Boehner, who is occasionally referred to as “former Rep. Boehner” in the novel.