Dispatches > The Buzz

Flashtraffic

Issue: "50 family-friendly movies," June 28, 2003

Hillary Rodham Clinton's new book, Living History, is making history. The blockbuster sold a stunning 600,000 copies in the first week, and Simon & Schuster quickly announced it's printing another 500,000. The book will debut at No. 1 on The New York Times nonfiction bestseller list on June 29 and should dominate the nonfiction charts all summer. What does the hubbub mean politically? A new Gallup poll finds only 35 percent of Americans believe Ms. Clinton tells the truth in this book. But Peggy Noonan, author of The Case Against Hillary (Regan Books, 2000), thinks it "establishes her as an independent political star." Ms. Clinton "has decoupled herself from her husband," Ms. Noonan tells WORLD, adding that it demonstrates "the impressive strategic brilliance of Hillary Clinton, along with her unchanging cynicism and toughness."

Ms. Noonan calls the advance publicity "shrewdly done" and points to "the leaks, the 'spontaneous crowds' that waited overnight at bookstores" as evidence of "a first-class campaign strategy." She adds that in all of Ms. Clinton's television interviews, "she has come across as a happy and secure person who laughs a lot. All of this will work for her powerfully. She could have the Democratic nomination in '04, and knows it. But she means to take it in '08. She'll be a formidable challenger. By '08, most people will have only a vague and partial recollection of Filegate, Chinagate, the billing papers, the cattle futures scandal, Travelgate. It will all seem so long ago." Ms. Noonan's advice to conservatives: "Take this woman seriously. She means to be your president."

Random House, the world's largest publisher, has finally discovered that conservatives can read. On June 19, it officially launched a conservative imprint branded "Crown Forum" with a splashy book party in Washington featuring its newly signed marquee writers Ann Coulter, Bob Novak, Linda Chavez, and Michael Medved. "We're the first major trade publisher to form a conservative-oriented imprint in 15 years," says Steve Ross, senior vice president of the Crown Publishing Group-a division of Random House-in a phone interview with WORLD. He concedes that for too long there was an "unconscious bias" against conservatism among editors at major New York publishing houses, but adds: "We see a substantial and eager and growing conservative readership across the country that is underserved.... That's a market opportunity for us."

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Ms. Coulter's new book, Treason, is the first of a dozen titles Crown will release over the next year. Crown published Ms. Coulter's last book, Slander, which quickly became a No. 1 New York Times bestseller with 400,000 hardcover copies in print. That, and the tremendous success of the conservative Regnery Publishing company based in Washington, D.C., convinced Random House it had to compete aggressively for conservative readers.

Marji Ross (no relation to Steve Ross) is the new president of Regnery, which sold almost 500,000 hardcover copies of Bernard Goldberg's Bias, and over 400,000 copies of the late Barbara Olson's The Final Days. She says she's not worried about competition from Random House: "I just don't know why they've all been so late to the party." In 2002, seven out of 15 Regnery books were New York Times bestsellers. This year, three out of six Regnery books have hit the Times list so far. "I would have thought New York would have caught on to us sooner," says Ms. Ross. "We've doubled our sales in the past five years."

A petition drive to recall California's Democrat Gov. Gray Davis appears increasingly likely to succeed, and could open the way for liberal Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger to replace him. The Austrian-born actor says he won't decide whether to run until after the July 2 release of his new film, Terminator 3. But he was recently in Washington meeting with top GOP officials, including White House political strategist Karl Rove. Davis opponents have until Sept. 2 to collect 900,000 signatures. They already have over 700,000.

Joel C. Rosenberg
Joel C. Rosenberg

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