Carl Bernstein: We've Got the Hillary of '92 Back

Carl Bernstein
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Plummy with his trademark bravado and bonhomie, Carl Bernstein took the stage at the packed 92nd Street Y last night to talk about A Woman in Charge, his bestselling, closely observed Hillary bio. "The theme of the fear of humiliation runs through her life," he told the crowd, explaining that that's why she resisted investigations into Whitewater, for example, and never told her closest law colleagues in Arkansas that she failed the D.C. bar exam. What's more, he said, her current campaign has found both her and Bill slipping back into their old, unpalatable take-no-prisoners mode, rather than that more supple, negotiation-friendly Hillary that bloomed like a quiet flower in the Senate. "We're seeing a real devolution back to the Hillary Clinton of the '92 campaign," he said. "She's shown a lot of her worst."

But he noted that many '92 operatives ultimately credited her steely choices with winning Bill the election. (Not to mention that the same harsh determination essentially saved free legal services for the D.C. poor in her early lawyer days.) This small defense was not enough to assuage a vocal pro-Hillary crowd, though; Bernstein received several angry questions and catcalls. Later, he admitted to NY1's Bud Mishkin, the evening's moderator, that he was dazed by the beating from the crowd. "There's an unwillingness among supporters of Hillary to really look into and read beyond what you think you really know," he chided.

After his remarks, we asked Bernstein whether he ever dreamed about Hillary. "I have not, to my waking knowledge," he said. When we asked whether he had talked to HRC since the book came out, he said he ran into her at a dinner in Iowa that she, Obama, and Biden were speaking at. "She said, 'Oh, Carl!' and put her arm around me," Bernstein explained. "I said, 'I'm your advance man. Hill, we really ought to talk.' She said, ''You're right — in Washington or New York. I'll call you.'" So far, it appeared, the call hadn't come. —Tim Murphy

May we recommend the 2008 Electopedia, a guide to New York presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani, from Best Speech to Hairstyle.