Thin air and heavy breathing

On Friday the Wall Street Journal ran Mark Steyn’s review of Bill Clinton’s memoirs and the Journal has made it available online this morning: “The wrong way to Mount Rushmore.”
Steyn points out a fact I have seen observed nowhere else; perhaps other reviewers such as Larry McMurtry didn’t get quite as far in the book as Steyn did:

Is there anything interesting in “My Life” by Bill Clinton? Oh, yes. Page 870.
The Clintons are in New Zealand and finally get to meet “Sir Edmund Hillary, who had explored the South Pole in the 1950s, was the first man to reach the top of Mount Everest and, most important, was the man Chelsea’s mother had been named for.”
Hmm. Edmund Hillary reached the top of Everest in 1953. Hillary Rodham was born in 1947, when Sir Edmund was an obscure New Zealand beekeeper and an unlikely inspiration for two young parents in the Chicago suburbs. I mentioned this in Britain’s Sunday Telegraph eight years ago this very week, after this little story was trotted out the first time, but like so many curious anomalies in the Clinton record, it somehow cruises on indestructibly. By the time Sir Edmund shuffles off this mortal coil, the New York Times headline will read: “Man for Whom President Rodham Named Dies; Climbed Everest in 1947.”

Throughout the rest of the review Steyn uses the mountain-climbing metaphor suggested by Clinton’s reference to Sir Edmund to describe the experience of reading the book. (Courtesy of Malcolm Smordin.)


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