Jackie Collins, eat your heart out.
The teases from John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s new book, ‘Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime’, are deliciously salacious. Check out New York Magazine, whose excerpt on John and Elizabeth Edwards is a reputation killer for all time, for both of them. A more benign section:
The Democratic Establishment agreed that there would be—and certainly should be—a viable challenger to Clinton. The party’s pooh-bahs on Capitol Hill were privately terrified about the prospect of Hillary rolling to the nomination. They feared that she was too polarizing to win, that she would drag down House and Senate candidates in red and purple states; and they worried, too, about Bill’s putative affairs. But while the Clintons themselves regarded Edwards as Hillary’s most formidable rival, there existed a deep wariness about the North Carolinian among his fellow Democrats. In the Senate, in particular, Edwards was regarded almost universally by his former colleagues as a callow, shallow phony. Quietly, the Establishment began a quest to find a different alternative, eventually settling on the unlikely horse that was Obama—with Harry Reid personally, and secretly, urging the Illinois senator to run against Clinton. – An Excerpt From John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s ‘Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime’ — New York Magazine
One “revelation” from the book, written about today by Marc Ambinder, got an immediate apology from Harry Reid, who is having some really bad days right now. But Reid has a wide, very deep infrastructure inside Nevada. It’s not over yet, though it’s by no means inconceivable that he could lose. (I just hope he doesn’t take down his son, Rory Reid, who is a cut above.)
Dishing on 2008, of course, requires some Clinton news, which is provided in Ambinder’s piece:
The war room within a war room dismissed or discredited much of the gossip floating around, but not all of it. The stories about one woman were more concrete, and after some discreet fact-finding, the group concluded that they were true: that BIll was indeed having an affair — and not a frivolous one-night stand but a sustained romantic relationship. …. For months, thereafter, the war room within a war room braced for the explosion, which her aides knew could come at any moment.
This was whispered about. Not just that WJC was fooling around, but that he had a relationship outside his marriage, and now someone found enough details to actually write it and make it interesting. As an aside, there were also tales of investigative journalists being sent to Las Vegas to investigate, uncover and get someone on the record, preferably one of the women, about what was allegedly going on there, too, with WJC. There was plenty of noise out there about Bill Clinton’s antics during the primaries, with people just waiting for it to bust out. If somebody had gone on the record it would have.
We are intimately familiar with the male political icons who stray, especially John F. Kennedy, who made being a louse sort of chic. He couldn’t have survived today’s media, because they won’t hide the dirt, nor should we.
Women caught in the political meat grinder, wives, and mistresses who find out or who are found out, even who bust out on their own with the story, are something we didn’t have to deal with much, the most famous in modern time being Jennifer Flowers… then Monica Lewinski… wannabe Paul Jones… now Reille Hunter.
It’s hard to say how the hangers on fans of Elizabeth Edwards will take the latest dish about this most protected of Democratic darlings. When I wrote candidly about Mrs. Edwards last year her fans went berserk. From the New York Magazine piece:
One day, she was on a conference call with the staffers of One America, the political-action committee that was being turned into a vehicle for John’s 2008 bid. There were 40 or 50 people on the line, mostly kids in their twenties being paid next to nothing (and in some cases literally nothing). Elizabeth had been cranky throughout the call, but at the end she asked if her and her husband’s personal health-care coverage had been arranged. Not yet, she was told. There are complications; let’s discuss it after the call. Elizabeth was having none of that. She flew into a rage.
If this isn’t dealt with by tomorrow, everyone’s health care at the PAC will be cut off until it’s fixed, she barked. I don’t care if nobody has health care until John and I do! – New York Magazine
That’s not the worst one either.
When it comes to seeing portrayals of Elizabeth Edwards like this, along with yet more salacious tidbits about Hillary’s latest ordeal with her husband, it causes uneasiness. In this day and age, smart, capable, but especially, financially comfortable women shouldn’t find themselves in these situations. They have a choice. Whether it’s being caught in the eye of a love child story that reveals a dying wife gripping her man and his fame long after he’s humiliated her, or the never ending, decade after decade serial philandering husband that you continue to protect, for your own sake you rationalize, but which is actually to your own detriment, these two stories defy rational analysis. Hey, but love isn’t rational, it’s emotional.
It makes you ask whether even Elizabeth and Hillary, as powerful and educated as two females can be, still feel self-defined by the famous, handsome, charismatic man they each married, unable to let go of the image of the man they first met, as well as the young woman they were, because their own identity and sexuality are so intertwined and fixed with his that their sense of self disappears without him. Sounds crazy, I know. Neither of these two strong women give an impression of being so emotionally dependent, but it’s clear they won’t let go. It’s tragically pathetic that marriage and love are wrapped so tightly in such packages of betrayal and co-dependency, which both wives accept and enable, even as they’re the only ones holding their marriage together. For what reason? Love?
John Heilemann and Mark Halperin have created quite the buzz. Who won’t read this book?
UPDATE: From Ambinder, some more damaging details on the Clintons that are really tough to take. But to Hillary Clinton’s reaction to Shaheen’s remarks, of course she’s right it would have been fair game in other elections. But this remark, as reported, illustrates that Hillary just didn’t get the nature of the race she was in and the mood of people. Penn’s remarks illustrate the same tone deafness to the time, but also how ill served Clinton was; but then again, that’s her fault, as she could have fired them at any time. As for the alleged remarks from WJC to Ted Kennedy below, it was certain that whatever former Pres. Clinton said had broken a tie with his former friend, as it was reported at the time. It had to have been very serious to get such a reaction from Kennedy. The one reported in the new book would have done it, if he indeed said it, though former Pres. Clinton obviously has no intention of commenting. This stuff is ugly, no other way to cut it.
Why Sen. Kennedy was offended about his conversation with Bill Clinton: (Page 218):
“Recounting the conversation later to a friend, Teddy fumed that Clinton had said, A few years ago this guy would have been getting us coffee.”
Clinton senior strategist Mark Penn boasted to his staff how many times he managed to say “cocaine” on that famous Hardball segment. (Page 163.)
Hillary Clinton was initially pleased when her New Hampshire campaign chairman, Billy Shaheen, mentioned Obama’s previous use of drugs: (Page 161):
“Hillary’s reaction to Shaheen’s remarks was, “Good for him!” Followed by “Let’s push it out.” Her aides violently disagreed, seeing what Shaheen had said as a PR disaster. Grudgingly, Clinton acquiesced to disowning Shaheen’s comments. But she wasn’t going to cut him loose. Why should Billy have to fall on his sword for invoking something that had been fair game in every recent election?”