Hillary Clinton’s novel about the dangers Trump unleashed isn’t just fiction

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Hillary Clinton and “State of Terror”, the new book she wrote with Louise Penny. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Monica Schipper / Getty Images, Amazon)

WASHINGTON – Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have both been writing fiction lately. Trump’s fictions come in the form of fantastic statements about last year’s presidential election, which he keep pretending was stolen from him. Clinton’s involvement in the genre was simpler: this week she and Canadian writer Louise Penny released a thriller, “State of terrorIn which a woman secretary of state, Ellen Adams, must prevent an international crisis that could lead to nuclear war.

How fictitious is this work of fiction? Well, the nation is recovering from the “quasi-criminal incompetence” of ex-President Eric Dunn, who, after leaving the White House, retreated to a Florida estate hidden behind “great golden doors. “. The protagonist, Adams, is a media official chosen to be secretary of state by a president with whom she previously had a conflicted relationship, just as Barack Obama did before appointing Clinton to the same post in 2009.

At one point, a former Dunn press secretary who had been fired from his job lamented, “Loyalty was the most important thing in this White House. Anyone who looked like they could say anything critical was fired. “

On Wednesday, Penny and Clinton hosted a book talk at Politics and Prose, a bookstore in the leafy northwest section of Washington, DC. turned Clinton’s political career upside down: Politics and Prose is just a few doors down from Comet Ping Pong, the pizzeria where, at the end of 2016, a follower of the absurd conspiracy theory that she and other top Democrats collected blood from abducted children introduced himself wielding a semi-automatic rifle and intending to “investigate”.

Spoiler alert: Middle East figures prominently in the book, but Clinton and Penny are too sensitive to both thriller clichés and today’s cultural politics to attribute all the wickedness of the novel to the Arab world . The authors’ plot reflects a growing conviction among intelligence and national security officials rather than domestic right-wing extremists represent a greater threat than foreigners.

A first-time novelist, Clinton described “State of Terror” as “kind of a reflection on trend lines,” which she said were going nowhere. “This is really a warning,” she said. “Because there is so much going on that is an attempt to go back to undermine our institutions, to undermine the rule of law, to sort of impose a view on who is and is not ‘truly American’ on the rest of us.

She avoided citing Trump by name but couldn’t help but cite the charged political environment that might be her most lasting contribution: “What are we doing? I mean, why are we politicizing a disease? Why are we arguing over life-saving vaccines? Why are we trying to prevent people from voting? What’s going on?”

She lambasted the so-called patriots who seek to “return our country to the ‘real Americans’,” a reference to the pro-Trump forces that remain avidly at work. Shortly after the event, she took to Twitter to share an article by Democratic lawyer Marc Elias on Republican threats to overturn the electoral process.

“I fear that the Democrats still do not take this threat seriously enough” his message said.

The book does contain light elements, however: Off the Record, the actual clubby hotel bar just steps from the White House, is often mentioned fondly. In an era before mask warrants and social distancing, before cocktails came in take-out pouches to be consumed during Zoom’s awkward happy hours, this was the kind of Washington establishment that symbolized the airtight nature. power and influence, twin forces the Clintons mastered better than anyone.

Clinton beamed in Wednesday’s book speech from her home in suburban New York City, the same home she retreated to after losing to Trump in 2016, emerging for walks in the local woods like a regular commuter. . Not that she’ll ever shake off the pitfalls that, for better or worse, come from being one of the most powerful and connected people in the world. In the book acknowledgments, she describes how the idea to write her first novel came from Bob Barnett, one of Washington’s hippest lawyers. Barnett had the idea, according to Clinton, of the editor Stephen rubin, who published Trumpworld columnist Michael Wolff. And Clinton’s husband Bill wrote political thrillers also, in his case with writer James Patterson.

As Trump’s likely campaign in 2024 intensifies, he becomes increasingly difficult to avoid, as Clinton well acknowledges. “This, unfortunately, is realistic,” she said of her new novel. “It’s very real.”

The warning may have to do with nuclear war but also more subtle issues. Faced with mass upheavals, some choose the easy answers proposed by the authoritarians. At one point in “State of Terror,” an Iranian leader asks, “Given the choice between chaos and dictatorship, what do you think the American people will choose? “

the question remains unanswered.

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