This isn’t idle gossip. Nor is it an excuse to write about Paris going to jail or to play “On the Inside”, Prisoner theme song, to mark the occasion. Truly.

In fact, Gawker has obliged by bridging the low-high brow divide with this link between Paris, Hillary and serious politics:

Hillary Clinton and Paris Hilton, millennial America’s twin Joan of Arcs, are presently enjoying their last weekends before they get tied to the stake. Come Tuesday, the LA County Jail will swallow Hillary whole and the official release of Carl Bernstein’s A Woman in Charge will totally reveal the truth about Paris. (Or is it the other way around?)

Bernstein’s book is about to hit shelves (for preview extracts, see here and here). So too another tome, Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton by Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporters Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr (for extract, see here).

Given the trio’s journalistic pedigree, the books are being lined up for serious attention. But will they be the political career killers they’re made out to be? Those who’ve read advance copies aren’t so sure.

The most striking thing about today’s Washington Post get of two embargoed, much-anticipated investigative books about Hillary Clinton is what’s not there, writes Ben Smith at Politico: “A single, memorable new fact that changes the way the public will view Clinton”.

In fact, the books merely “seem to flesh out a number of known anecdotes about the Clintons,” he writes, “from the newsflash that Bill cheated on his wife a lot, to the suggestion … that Hillary didn’t read the full National Intelligence Estimate before the Iraq war … Also: The secret plan to make Bill president!”

As On Call puts it, revelations are said to be:

Ooh — HRC is ambitious. And ruthless. Ambitious people can be ruthless. Ooh — HRC fought to keep her family’s private life private.
Ooh — Bill Clinton had extramarital affairs.
Ooh — the Clintons were worried about Whitewater.

That there’s no smoking gun is evident in Bernstein’s ambivalent conclusion, reckons The New York Observer’s Ana Marie Cox: “What to make of a book that exhaustively (over 600 pages of exhaust) plumbs the depths of the known Hillary record — we learn about her prom dress, her religious beliefs, her endometritis, her fears of indictment — only to conclude, lamely, that she ‘is neither the demon of the right’s perception, nor a feminist saint, nor is she particularly emblematic of her time,’ and, shockingly, ‘the jury remains out.'”

Meanwhile, back to Paris, while she might be tied to the stake, the flames could simply be a sign of her “career” hotting up. In preparation for the media event of the season, she’ll be primped and primed by a team of make-up and hair artists, reports the NY Daily News.

“The timing is to make sure she makes all the celebrity weeklies,” an insider says. “Paris is a genius at marketing herself. She managed to turn having a s-x tape to her benefit, and she’s going to do the same out of going to prison.”

“Expect her hair pulled back in a ponytail, big sunglasses and maybe a Holy Bible under one arm. And she just got a new kitten, so maybe she’ll hand that to her sister as she gets out of the car.” Adds the insider: “There might even be tears.”

Still, Paris doesn’t have the monopoly on Phoenix-like tabloid turnarounds. As Bernstein notes:

The ultimate demonstration of [Hillary’s] ability to change was her transformation as the Lewinsky experience moved relentlessly through her life, and her decision to cut loose in its wake. She acted on “what even on its face is a preposterous idea,” said a deputy who had served both her and her husband. “A sitting first lady of the United States was going to the state of New York where she had never lived and run for the Senate — while she was in the White House. And pull[ed] it off. Every political consultant in the world would say, Preposterous, it’s goofy. Where did that come from? And she did it.”

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey