Daniel Halper's new book, "Clinton Inc.," is already making waves for its many bombshell revelations about the Clintons. But the overarching focus of Halper's book is not on the salacious or sensational but rather how the Clintons rebuilt their political machine after President Clinton left office largely disgraced.
One aspect of the Clintons' revival involves the Bush family, in a coup that former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich believes is particularly devastating.
"The most single damaging thing the Bush family has done to politics was to resuscitate Bill and Hillary Clinton and give them a bipartisan veneer," says Newt Gingrich in our interview. Given the fact that Bush was as radioactive to the left as the Clintons were to the right, the very public demonstration of bipartisanship between the country's two most famous political families would only help them. "For their own reasons, the Bush people thought having Clinton with his father [George H.W. Bush] would be clever," the former Speaker noted. "They're right. The consequence may be a Hillary Clinton presidency."
Halper argues in "Clinton, Inc." that one key to the Clintons' rise back to power has been their ability to create new allies among, or at least neutralize enemies within the Republican ranks, as reflected in Bill Clintons' efforts to ingratiate himself by cozying up to the more statesmanlike George H.W. Bush.
Some members of the Bush clan themselves were skeptical of Clinton's efforts, though not enough to prevent Clinton from becoming chummy with George H.W. Bush through their humanitarian efforts and George W. Bush as a sympathetic ear when it came to his complaints about the media for example. Halper writes:
Barbara Bush's skepticism extends to her brainy son, Jeb, the one she hoped would have been elected to the presidency.
...Suggesting a self-interested motivation to [Bill] Clinton's outreach, the former Florida governor said, "President Clinton's advisors have figured out that, in terms of character and integrity, a rising tide lifts all boats. So I could see President Clinton's motivation."
In an email to family members that was leaked to the public in 2013, Jeb wrote that his father "helped restore [Clinton's] sordid reputation" and "probably helped Bill Clinton [more] than anything [Clinton] himself has done." It's not clear whether Jeb thought that was a good thing.
[sharequote align="center"][On] character and integrity, a rising tide lifts all boats. So I could see...Clinton's motivation[/sharequote]
While Bill Clinton worked on the Bush family, and made friends with earlier foes such as former Texas Senator Phil Gramm and former Mississippi Senator and Senate Majority leader Trent Lott, Halper chronicles a major charm offensive by Senator Hillary Clinton to co-opt Republicans during her time in the U.S. Senate. Many of the recipients of Hillary's magnanimity were the most ardent opponents of her husband -- including those who led the push to impeach him.
Halper speaks with many of the major players in the impeachment proceedings, from former Texas senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, to current Kanas governor and former senator Sam Brownback, to former Arkansas congressman Asa Hutchinson, to former Indiana congressman Dan Burton and on and on to moderate GOP senate colleagues such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham. These figures universally describe Hillary Clinton positively.
Halper writes that "On or off the record, no matter how much they were coaxed, not one of them would say a negative thing about Hillary Clinton as a person--other than observing that her Democratic allies sometimes didn't like her."
The author speculates that the Republicans' "love affair with Hillary--at least in their private conversations--probably says more about their susceptibility to flattery and praise than it does about her personality."
But, according to Halper:
it also demonstrates the difficulty her likely 2016 Republican challengers will face in trying to build a coalition against her. Hillary Clinton has built a virtual dossier of praise and support from Republican colleagues who might publicly denounce her for political purposes but in private seem to downright like her.
[sharequote align="center"]Hillary Clinton has built a virtual dossier of praise and support from Republican colleagues[/sharequote]
Halper believes that the Clintons' effort to in effect keep their friends close while turning enemies into friends has been a masterful and hugely overlooked part of the rebuilding of their machine:
What has been little understood in the past decade, from 2001 to the present, is how successfully the Clintons undertook a systematic, comprehensive, and sustained effort to win over leaders in the GOP, especially figures who were once the biggest critics. In return, both Clintons were able to develop a bipartisan, statesmanlike image that had eluded them through eight years in the White House.
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