A political tale of two dysfunctional families FREE to subscribers
CALGARY, AB, Mar 3, 2015/ Troy Media/ – Observing the dysfunctional and bitterly partisan politics between Democrats and Republicans in the United States, one would think that in-fighting within a party would be powder-puff style in comparison.
One would be wrong, as Edward Klein’s book Blood Feud clearly shows: the Obamas and Clintons loathe each other.
We have enough from the horses’ mouths to believe him.
Item: Hillary. “I’m not sure what Bill and I expected from the Obamas, but there was bad blood between us from the start. . . . Obama has turned into a joke.
Talk about dysfunctional families
“We promised to support him when he ran for re-election and in return, he’d support me in 2016. . . . but then he reneged on the deal. His word isn’t worth shit.”
Item: Bill. “I hate that man more than any man who ever lived. He called me a racist.”
Furthermore, Bill claimed, “I’ve heard more from Bush, asking for my advice, than I did from Obama. I have no relationship with the president – none whatsoever.”
The Obamas never even invited the Clintons to the White House for dinner until after the 2012 election. The occasion was a disaster.
During the battle in 2007-2008 between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination, Bill said some things which deeply annoyed the Obamas. For example, he dismissed Obama as just another black candidate like Jesse Jackson, claimed that a vote for him was “a roll of the dice” and that Obama’s role in opposing the Iraq war was the “biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen.” (Hillary had warned him not to compare Jackson’s and Obama’s campaigns.)
Personally, I see the latter two comments as fair ball in a vigorous campaign, but there was more. Forty years earlier, in her valedictorian speech at Wellesley, Hillary had attacked the first African American Senator in that century (he was a Republican). Michelle Obama and a close advisor to both Obamas, Valerie Jarrett, remembered.
Then there was Bill’s forcefulness as opposed to Obama’s indecision.
According to Jarett, Michelle told her, “. . . I’m leery about Bill and Barack becoming buddies and Bill making decisions for him.”
Michelle wasn’t the only person leery of Bill’s tendency to bulldoze.
Hillary once said “I’m afraid that if I’m elected, he’ll think he’s president again and I’m first lady. If he starts that shit, I’ll have his ass thrown out of the White House.”
In the run-up to Obama’s bid for re-election, Bill commissioned a secret poll which showed that Hillary was more popular with Democrats than was the President. He wanted Hillary to oppose Obama for the nomination.
When the Obama team learned of this, Jarrett exploded.
Then there was the famous golf game between Bill and Obama, meant to cement the quid pro quo for Bill’s campaigning for Obama in 2012. Later, Bill believed that his sensational nomination speech had put Obama over the top. But what did he get? Absolutely nothing. Obama accepted Jarrett’s advice: “Promise him the moon. You’re the President. You don’t have to give him anything after you’re elected.”
During the golf game, as Bill listed Hillary’s terrific credentials for a 2016 run at the presidency, he was flabbergasted when Obama said, “You know, Michelle would make a great presidential candidate too.” (Apparently she was considering a senate campaign in Illinois at the time.)
After the game Bill believed he had a commitment that he could appoint the next chair of the Democratic National Committee to prepare for his wife’s run for the presidency. Not at all. This came under the category of “you don’t have to give him anything.”
Bill was enraged. Apparently he had forgotten his own advice to Hillary:
“Loyalty doesn’t exist in politics.”
That’s enough to give the flavour of Klein’s book and to make it worth reading. But some aspects of it took me aback. For example, his bluntness: “Lying had never bothered Hillary.” And some of his material on the state of the two marriages might sit more comfortably in the innuendo-laden, made-up world of low-brow celebrity journalism.
Klein also says that Obama had a messianic view of his presidency and that, although he’s a great campaigner, he’s an indecisive, incompetent president. His handling of the Syrian crisis makes this assessment credible, although the serious glitches in the rollout of Obamacare cited by Klein may well have been other people’s responsibility.
Klein’s characterization of some policies being “ultra-liberal” or a “left-wing agenda” (bad things) was also jarring. Canadian eyes might see them as left-centrist. And to blame Obama entirely for the intransigent Pavlovian resistance by Republicans to anything proposed by him struck me as pretty rich.
Klein’s tale of dysfunctional families a must-read for political junkies
Overall, I think most political junkies and members of the chattering classes would enjoy this book, as long as they realize that all four protagonists will come across as psychologically incomplete people.
Charismatic, yes, but they seem to have a strained relationship with the truth and ordinary decency.
It will be interesting to see if Obama decides to back Vice-President Joe Biden for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination and whether Bill’s heart condition intervenes to hobble Hillary’s run. It seems that nothing else will stop her.
Phil Elder is Emeritus Professor of Environmental and Planning Law with the Faculty of Environmental Design at the University of Calgary.
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