Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Carl Bernstein, the Watergate journalist who most people these days likely remember as Dustin Hoffman or not-Bob Woodward, is making the talk show rounds promoting his new biography of Hillary Clinton. His big bombshell: Hillary flunked the bar exam and kept the failure a secret from her closest friend for 30 years! This, in Bernstein’s words, makes her “inauthentic.”

It makes her my hero. Some 20 years ago, I flunked my driver’s exam. I made a rolling stop, just like Dad, and it cost me enough points to guarantee a second attempt. Like Hillary, I tried to keep the results under wraps. Not because I’m inauthentic but because I’m a perfectionist. And as much as perfectionists fear failure, we fear other people taking those failures and throwing them back in our faces. It’s like dying a thousand deaths.

Unlike Hillary, word of my debacle somehow leaked and I was subjected to a fair amount of teasing that some people like to think of as good-natured and others such as myself tend to think of as mortifying. “Ha, ha. Straight-A student can’t pass a driver’s test. Ha, ha.” So funny I could cry.

Bernstein, who’s led a big, fat mess of a life—his screw-ups immortalized on film by ex-wife Nora Ephron—doesn’t get this. He thinks he’s unlocked the mystery that is the senator from New York—by jove, she’s inauthentic—when he’s utterly failed to understand her at all.

What kind of person refuses to admit they flunked the bar, he wonders. I’ll answer that for you, Carl. Someone like me.


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