There's a great piece about Carl Bernstein — author of the sort of enormous Hillary Clinton biography we've sort of started reading — in today's Washington Post. We care about Bernstein not because of the role he played in bringing down Richard Nixon but because he was portrayed by Dustin Hoffman back when Hoffman was totally do-able; because his asshole-ishness (he fucked around with Bianca Jagger and Liz Taylor) inspired the founding work of chick lit, Nora Ephron's Heartburn; and because his book, which took eight years to write, has some chick-lit qualities itself. Oh, and we care because, just like us:
- He's kind of a slut, reports the Post: "The period he spent studying Hillary Clinton may well be a personal record in the category of 'Longest Time With The Same Woman.' 'I might have made seven years once before,' he says, looking down at his plate, 'but I'm not going to go into it.'"
- He's a drunk. (In the wake of one DUI arrest, his former Post colleague Bob Woodward bailed him out of jail.)
- He reeeally sucks with money.
- He dropped out of college after two years. ("Sometimes I flunked, sometimes I quit.")
- He procrastinates. Just a bit.
- He's okay with all of this. "I know there are things I can't control."
Some other interesting tidbits about Bernstein? He's kind of cheesy!
"Dressed in a dark sport jacket and a white Oxford shirt, Carl Bernstein looks like an aging Italian tycoon."
He's a mooch:
"I was living a full, wonderful life," he explains. The full, wonderful life isn't cheap, however, and Bernstein has told friends that he long ago burned through the roughly $3 million he earned from Watergate-related books and movies. He was somewhat notorious for borrowing money from friends and not paying them back, a habit he developed as a kid.
He's like the print-journalism version of Michael Moore:
It's not as if Bernstein disappeared. There was a family memoir, "Loyalties," in 1989, and a decently received biography of Pope John Paul II in 1996, "His Holiness," which he wrote with an Italian journalist, as well as authoritative magazine pieces. But when he wasn't writing, Bernstein often seemed at the mercy of his appetites. There is nothing like an all-you-can-eat buffet to bring out the glutton in a man, and acclaim brought with it an aromatic heap of temptations...
In the end, he's kind of fucking boring:
"'You get to a certain point in your life and you say, "Wow," says Bernstein. 'I did some terrific stuff, took some hard knocks. But basically, the cliches are true. You're on a journey. All the cliches are true.'"
Carl Bernstein, Back On The Beat [Washington Post] Earlier: Hillary Clinton Was Totally Avril Lavigne In High School