Ed Klein's new book, "Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. the Obamas" has been making waves for its many salacious details -- for example Klein's assertion that there is a deep rift between Michelle Obama and the president such that they slept in separate bedrooms at Martha's Vineyard (and continue to do so in the White House).
However, the broader purpose of the book is to show that there is a heated battle going on -- dating back to the brutal primary contest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential election cycle -- that continues to manifest itself in various ways as we move towards the 2016 presidential election.
With that in mind, we decided to compile 10 of the most interesting more substantive revelations in Klein's book.
Word of caution to readers: "Blood Feud" according to Klein is based on dozens and dozens of interviews with those close to the Clinton and Obama camps, none of which of course are sourced. Further worth noting is that the book almost universally portrays the Obamas in a negative light, which by comparison makes the Clintons, despite their ruthlessness and apparent lust for political power, seem almost universally sympathetic. Also, in the past, critics have questioned the veracity of many of Klein's works. We would advise given the nature of the material alone that everything be taken with a grain of salt.
With that said, here is our list:
1. Valerie Jarrett runs the White House
White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett listens as President Barack Obama speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, during a meeting with foundation and business leaders. (Image Source: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
While followers of the White House are aware of Jarrett's sway as the president's closest consigliere, the extent of this closeness is somewhat staggering based on "Blood Feud." Klein writes that Jarrett was more powerful than Rahm Emanuel and William Daley, the president's first chiefs of staff -- in fact according to Klein she is the most powerful presidential adviser since Harry Hopkins of FDR's White House. Jarrett is so close to the Obamas that she reportedly "moved permanently into a room in the family's private quarters, referred to by the White House staff as "the Residence."
Jarrett also serves as the key go-between between the president and his wife on all matter of issues, from the political to the personal. Jarrett apparently would help run any Michelle Obama campaign, and has repeatedly pushed her to seriously consider such a run for the Senate seat held by Mark Kirk in Illinois.
As for the here and now, Jarrett has power that reaches "into the remotest corners of the federal government," and also plays a key role in promulgating American foreign policy (see no. 3)."
2. Hillary attempted to physically intimidate Obama as Secretary of State
Klein writes that Michelle Obama and Valerie Jarrett both opposed Hillary Clinton's nomination as Secretary of State. This was perhaps with good reason if one episode that Klein describes is any indication:
"Some of Hillary's arguments with the president actually turned physical. Once, according to a source close to Valerie Jarrett, Hillary jabbed Obama's chest with her finger to make a point. When Obama reported the finger-jabbing incident to Michelle, he said that he couldn't believe Hillary had done that to the president of the United States. He was more amazed than angry about the impulsive attack."
3. Bill Clinton commissioned (and threatened to leak) a poll prior to the 2012 election that would have shown Hillary Clinton to be more popular than the president, and potentially led to a challenge to his nomination
Prior to the 2012 election, David Plouffe, one of President Obama's key political advisors, suggested that Obama court Bill Clinton for support as a means of solidifying voting blocs deemed crucial to Obama's reelection -- namely "African Americans, Hispanics, single women, young people, government workers, gays and lesbians, and educated professionals...[who] all loved Bill Clinton."
While Valerie Jarrett counseled against such a move, David Plouffe insisted upon it:
"The word was that Hillary didn't want to risk...a run against a sitting president of her own party, but that Bill had commissioned a secret poll in which likely Democratic voters were asked whom they preferred--Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Bill was thinking of leaking the results of the poll, which showed that Hillary was far more popular among rank-and-file Democrats than Obama. "We could blow this whole thing by keeping Clinton at arm's length," Plouffe warned Obama."
[sharequote align="center"]We could blow this whole thing by keeping Clinton at arm's length[/sharequote]
Of course Plouffe ultimately won out, with Clinton grudgingly providing his support during the election.
4. America's foreign policy is run by...David Axelrod, John Brennan and Valerie Jarrett?
While Hillary Clinton was running the State Department, perhaps unsurprisingly she was not calling the shots on foreign policy according to Klein.
Vali Reza Nasr, dean of the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies who served under diplomat Richard Holbrooke at State and "had a front-row seat to the turf battles between the Obama White House and Hillary Clinton" told Klein:
"'Obama's three most important foreign policy advisers were David Axelrod, Valerie Jarrett, and John Brennan, deputy national security adviser for homeland security and counterterrorism [Brennnan has since been appointed director of the CIA]. Obama put Brennan in charge of drones and fighting terrorists, the two prongs of Obama's wartime foreign policy initiatives. Whenever Hillary went on a trip to, say, Saudi Arabia, Brennan would go along, and the Saudis treated him as the person who really mattered, not Hillary. Ultimately, John Brennan made Middle East policy. Axelrod and Jarrett made other policies, in other parts of the world. These three people--Brennan, Axelrod, and Jarrett--were the ones calling the shots. It was they who decided we should surge in Afghanistan or the direction of our Pakistan policy. Not the State Department, and not Hillary."
5. The Obamas plan to build a political dynasty
For those who think the Obamas are simply going to go off into the Hawaii sunset at the conclusion of the president's second term, think again.
In addition to Michelle Obama apparently considering a run for the U.S. Senate in Illinois, the Obama's have broader aspirations:
"'Michelle and Valerie are preparing her legacy as well as Barack's,' Jarrett's friend said. 'Child health, care of veterans and the environment are just a start. They would like to have friendly Congress members put her name on bills that would give her a record of legislative achievement to run on. They are pushing for even larger staffs. Barack lets them do whatever they want. He is completely supportive of Michelle's ambitions. He definitely wants a dynasty. Everybody around them understands that. That's the goal. They intend to have power for years to come.'"
[sharequote align="center"][Obama] definitely wants a dynasty...That's the goal. They intend to have power for years to come.[/sharequote]
According to the book, the Clintons have similar ideas in terms of overtaking the Democratic Party and running it for years to come.
6. Hillary resisted the Obama line on Benghazi
An armed man waves his rifle as buildings and cars are engulfed in flames after being set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi late on September 11, 2012. (Image Source: AFP/Getty Images)
Klein writes that Hillary Clinton
"'was stunned when she heard the president talk about the Benghazi attack,' according to a member of her team of legal advisers who was interviewed for this book. 'Obama wanted her to say that the attack had been a spontaneous demonstration triggered by an obscure video...Hillary told Obama, 'Mr. President, that story isn't credible; among other things, it ignores the fact that the attack occurred on 9/11.' But the president was adamant. He said, 'Hillary, I need you to put out a State Department release as soon as possible.'"
Bill and Hillary then apparently played out various scenarios, including Hillary potentially resigning over what had occurred. They ruled this out however in part because her State Department was providing cover for the CIA in terms of what operations were taking place in Benghazi, in addition to the fact that her resignation could hurt Obama's chances for reelection which might destroy Hillary's own political future.
7. Obama stabbed the Clintons in the back for 2016
Subsequent to the 2012 election, Bill Clinton followed up with President Obama on the deal they had made in which Bill would help Obama get reelected, while theoretically Obama would for one thing place Clinton's handpicked political allies in the DNC -- including replacing Debbie Wasserman-Schultz as its chair. Obama did not follow through. And in a post-election phone call, the following occurred according to Klein:
"'Obama cut right to the chase,' Clinton's associate continued. 'He said he wasn't prepared to turn over his campaign's digital operations, data mining, and social media juggernaut to the Clintons. Instead, he said he was going to fold that operation into Organization for Action, his second-term political pressure group. Hillary would have to build her own data and analytics system. Bill listened, said, 'Okay,' and let it go at that.
'Then Obama said it was too early to make a decision about 2016 and who he was going to support of the Democratic Party nomination. He wasn't prepared to back Hillary now. He was keeping his options open. He was reneging on his promise.
'Bill's blood began to boil. He was speechless with rage.
'Then Obama mentioned Benghazi in kind of a vague, confusing way that led Bill to believe that the White House was going to dump political and legal blame for the mess on Hillary.
'At that point, Obama stopped talking and waited for Bill's reaction. But Bill just laughed sarcastically at Obama and hung up the phone.
'Hillary said later that she found him in his office with his head cradled in his hands.'"
8. What really happened when Hillary initially postponed testifying on Benghazi
While many questioned if Hillary fell ill prior to the Benghazi hearings in 2013, Klein reveals that:
"The true story of what happened to Hillary, was radically different from [Hillary's personal spokesman Phillipe] Reines's version [that Hillary had a stomach virus and was dehydrated].
...Hillary fainted while she was working in her seventh-floor office at the State Department, not at home, as Reines told the media. She was treated at the State Department's infirmary and then, at her own insistence, taken to Whitehaven to recover. However, as soon as Bill appeared on the scene and was able to assess Hillary's condition for himself, he ordered that she be immediately flown to New York-Presbyterian Hospital in...Manhattan. When Reines subsequently released a statement confirming that Hillary was being treated...it naturally intensified speculation about the seriousness of her medical condition.
While she was at the hospital, doctors diagnosed Hillary with several problems.
She had a right transverse venous thrombosis, or a blood clot between her brain and skull...
To make matters worse, it turned out that Hillary had an intrinsic tendency to form clots and faint [Klein goes on to recount several other past fainting spells].
...According to a source close to Hillary, a thorough medical examination revealed that Hillary's tendency to form clots was the least of her problems...Put into layman's language, her heart valves were not pumping in a steady way."
9. Who Obama is going to hand-select for 2016
[sharequote align="center"]He's convinced...that he's been a brilliant president, and he wants...to find his Mini-Me.[/sharequote]
According to a party guest who provided Klein with a reconstruction of a conversation between Hillary, Bill and Chelsea, beginning with Chelsea asking if Obama was going to back Vice President Biden in 2016:
"'It's going to be a dogfight,' replied Bill, who had already begun assembling opposition research on Biden. "I'm absolutely convinced that the Obamas have no intention of supporting your mother. It could be that they'll get behind [John] Kerry or Biden. But, you know, we're smarter than Biden and the rest of them. If Old Joe comes at us, we'll clean the floor with him."
..."Recently, I've heard a different scenario from state committeemen about the Obama's preference in '16," Bill continued. 'They say he's looking around for a candidate who's just like him. Someone relatively unknown. Someone with a fresh face. He's convinced himself that he's been a brilliant president, and he wants to clone himself--to find his Mini-Me. He's hunting for someone to succeed him, and he believes the American people don't want to vote for someone who's been around for a long time. He thinks that your mother and I are what he calls 'so twentieth century.' He's looking for another Barack Obama.'"
10. Bill Clinton is penning political playbooks for Hillary in the event he is indisposed during the 2016 presidential race; if his health truly fails, Bill wants Hillary to capitalize on his funeral
Former President Bill Clinton, left, listens as former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a student conference for the Clinton Global Initiative University, Saturday, March 22, 2014, at Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz. More than 1,000 college students are gathered at Arizona State University this weekend as part of the Clinton Global Initiative University's efforts to advance solutions to pressing world challenges. (Image Source: AP Photo/Matt York)
According to Klein, Bill and Hillary are on their way to raising over a billion dollars in advance of 2016. But in addition to their war chest and poaching much of the Obama team, from Jim Messina to the leaders of Obama's 2012 field operation -- Jeremy Bird and Mitch Stewart -- and Buffy Wicks, "a highly regarded get-out-the-vote specialist," Bill is also working on strategy.
Klein writes that Bill
"was writing what he called "playbooks"--thick notebooks outlining positions for Hillary to take on the major issues of the day--everything from immigration reform to gun control and education. He had also been ordering up opposition research on Hillary's likely Republican opponents. He felt strongly that Hillary was going to have to distance herself from Barack Obama and his amateurish handling of domestic and foreign policy.
'We've got to list all the situations that Obama's screwed up. Benghazi, the IRS, healthcare, you name it. We've got to explain,' he said, looking over at Hillary, 'how you would do everything different and better. It has to be made crystal clear that you understand Obama's mistakes and would never have made them yourself.'"
And as for capitalizing on a funeral should Bill's health fail, in one of the more sensational charges in the book, Klein writes that Bill told Hillary:
"'Obviously, you have to have a big state funeral for me, with as much pomp and circumstance as possible,' he said. 'I'm thinking maybe I should be buried at Arlington [National Cemetery] rather than at my library in Little Rock...Wear your widow's weeds, so people will feel sympathy for you. Wear black for a decent mourning period and make my death an asset. The images on television of the funeral and the grieving widow in black will be priceless...you'll have to take maximum advantage of my death...It should be worth a couple of million votes, he said.'"