Magazine article USA TODAY

Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. the Obamas

Magazine article USA TODAY

Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. the Obamas

Article excerpt

BLOOD FEUD

The Clintons vs. the Obamas

by Edward Klein

Regnery Publishing, Washington, D.C. 2014, 302 pages, $27.99

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Edward Klein--ex-editor of Newsweek, former editor-in-chief of The New York Times Magazine, and a contributing editor to Vanity Fair--has authored 12 books, including several bestsellers. For Blood Feud, a sequel to The Truth About Hillary: What She Knew, When She Knew It, and How Far She'll Go to Become President (2005) and The Amateur: Barack Obama in the White House (2012), Klein interviewed several hundred people, including close friends of the Clintons and Obamas. Klein acknowledges he gained much of the information for the book from what journalists call "deep background," meaning that he could use the information but could not identify sources. Wherever possible, he used more than one source to reconstruct a scene and to double-source dialogue. He interviewed several of the people close to the two couples more than a dozen times to check for accuracy and consistency.

Readers will understand why Klein resorted to deep background: much of the book concerns intimate facts contributed by very close friends of "secrets" revealing embarrassing situations. In using detailed information, Klein explores what the Clintons and the Obamas are really like. The title accurately describes how the two couples feel about each other and why they feel the way they do.

The book opens with Hillary's May 2013 visit with six members of her Wellesley College class of 1969. Hillary told her friends she "was not sure what Bill and [she] expected from the Obamas, but there was bad blood between [the couples] from the start." For as long as her friends had known her, Hillary had "been driven insane by her enemies." She kept an "enemies list of ingrates and traitors," including 2008 Obama supporters.

The "thing with Obama is that there is no hand on the tiller half the time, and you cannot trust the [expletive]," Klein quotes her as saying. "Obama has treated Bill and me incredibly shabbily and we are angry. We tried to strike a deal with him. We promised to support him when he ran for reelection, and in return he would support me in 2016. He agreed to the arrangement. His word isn't worth [expletive]. The bad blood between us is just too much to overcome." So goes the theme of the book--the Obamas and Clintons have a deeply ingrained, blood-level distrust of each other.

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Obama relied on his two closest advisors: David Plouffe, his chief in-house strategist, and Valerie Jarrett, his closest friend and director of activities. In August 2011,15 months before Obama ran for reelection, his prospects looked "iffy at best." Only 41% of the public approved of his performance. Aware that something had to be done, Plouffe suggested asking Bill Clinton to help "excite the base." However, members of Obama's inner circle, especially Jarrett, widely despised Clinton.

Jarrett suggested Oprah Winfrey, who had agreed to help elect Obama in 2008. Ultimately, Winfrey went "all-out" for Obama, headlining massive rallies and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars. In return, Obama had promised Winfrey unique access to the White House if he won. Winfrey intended to make "her unique White House access" part of her new network. However, none of that ever happened. Winfrey soon realized the Obamas had no intention of keeping their word even though they credited her with pulling in more than 1,000,000 votes. After the Obama betrayal, Winfrey swore she would sit out the 2012 reelection campaign. Hurt and angry, Winfrey has never "made up with the Obamas."

Plouffe, whom Obama had asked to do whatever was necessary to win the election, insisted they needed Bill Clinton. Jarrett finally agreed but suggested that, even though Plouffe might promise Clinton anything, he should ultimately do nothing for Clinton. …

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