In Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. The Obamas, Edward Klein explores the personal and political machinations behind the current struggle to control the Democratic Party. Klein’s latest effort is a sequel to two previously published books: The Truth About Hillary and The Amateur, his case against Obama’s preparedness for the White House.
It’s no secret that Bill and Hillary Clinton aren’t exactly friends with Michelle and Barack Obama, even if both families are bound by political necessity and some level of mutual respect. Central to Klein’s book is the sense of betrayal which fuels the Clintons’ animosity toward the First Family. As far as the Clintons are concerned, Bill’s speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention saved floundering Obama from one term obscurity. Obama owes him something, specifically, support for Hillary in 2016. “He thought he had a deal,” Klein writes of Bill Clinton. “When he found out otherwise, he resumed their feud more savagely than ever.”
Not since Ted Kennedy and Jimmy Carter fought for party supremacy have two prominent political figures sought so bitterly to share the same spotlight. Bill Clinton, once called America’s “first black president,” never forgot Obama’s portrayal of him as racially insensitive during the ugly 2008 primary battle between Hillary and Obama. Hillary Clinton fought the Obama team to a near draw in a nasty contest which, despite outward appearances, still begets grudges within the Democratic Party. In addition to playing “the race card on me,” and putting a “hit job on me,” Bill Clinton also griped that “I’ve heard more from Bush, asking for my advice, than I’ve heard from Obama,” writes Klein.
The scenes that emerge in Blood Feud are Shakespearean in spectacle, as Klein ushers readers into the same room as the combatants, who argue and bicker about all things petty and mundane. They are thirsty for money, power and party control. During one of many arguments, pugnacious Secretary of State Hillary Clinton jabs President Obama in the chest with her finger. He later told an angry Michelle that it hurt.
So how does Hillary really feel about Obama? “The thing with Obama is that he can’t be bothered, and there is no hand on the tiller half the time,” she says in the book. “That’s the story of the Obama presidency. No hand on the fucking tiller.” What’s worse, “you can’t trust the motherfucker,” says Hillary.
Klein presents the first couple, on the other hand, as two people who maintain appearances, argue vehemently, and live increasingly separate lives lacking in intimacy or personal respect. Michelle has political ambitions of her own to consider — a run for the Illinois Senate, perhaps, or a future attempt at the presidency?
Familiar criticism of Klein’s problematic methods have been picked over and rehashed in numerous print and online news outlets, so I won’t treat them here. Klein has never been shy about raising questions, both personally and politically, which he feels are relevant yet somehow off-limits to mainstream media. He raises those questions unapologetically in Blood Feud.
While Obama may never admit whom he wants as his heir, the only thing standing in the way of Vice President Joe Biden’s third run for the White House is Hillary Clinton, thickening an already dense plot. Will loyal Biden inherit the Obama coalition, or will Bill Clinton’s full-throated, if insincere, defense of Obama’s leadership bode well for Hillary?
In candid moments, it sounds like Hillary isn’t all that worried. According to Blood Feud: “When I run, Bill will make speeches for me that’ll make the speeches he’s made for Obama seem like those in a junior high school debate. I’ll run for president on that record, not Obama’s record. And we’ll win back the White House. You just wait and see.”
Original CBC book review written by George Abry.
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