Cross them at you’re peril!
Former US President Bill Clinton and his wife ex-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attend the swearing-in ceremony of Terry McAuliffe as Virginia’s governor in Richmond, Virginia in January. Photo: Reuters
Washington: Hillary and Bill Clinton keep a detailed “hit list” of everyone who has crossed them during more than 20 years at the apex of American politics, a new book has claimed.
The list of so-called “sinners and saints” – including John Kerry, now secretary of state, and the late Ted Kennedy – was compiled on a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet in the dying days of Mrs Clinton’s failed bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.
The alleged “cheat sheet” of betrayals – and there were many that year – ranked offenders on a scale from one to seven and was compiled by aides to give the Clintons an instant database of those who deserved political favour, and those who did not.John Kerry: on the Clintons’ list. Photo: AFP. He SERVED in Vietnam.
“Almost six years later, most Clinton aides can still rattle off the names of traitors and the favours that had been done for them then provide details of just how each of the guilty had gone on to betray the Clintons as if it all had happened just a few hours before,” wrote the authors of HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton.Advertisement
The Clintons have a reputation in Washington for long memories but the existence of a digital “favour book” raises questions about how Mrs Clinton, now 66, might conduct another run at the presidency in 2016. The book paints a picture of how wounding and dispiriting the 2008 campaign was for the Clintons as leading Democrats deserted them for Barack Obama, whose instant celebrity trumped years of hard networking and their own established pre-eminence as the most powerful double act in Democrat politics.
“The injuries and insults were endless, and each blow hurt more than the last, the cumulative effect of months and months of defections,” wrote the authors Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes.
Among those rated as a “7” for most disloyal were Mr Kerry, who endorsed Mr Obama as a man who could “help restore our moral authority” and – even more devastating – Kennedy, who designated Mr Obama as the heir-apparent to his brother John F Kennedy.
Another huge betrayal for Mrs Clinton, as she ran to become the first female US president, was the decision of Claire McCaskill, a senior Missouri senator, to become the first significant female figure to endorse Mr Obama. Senator MacCaskill, who has endorsed Mrs Clinton for 2016, gave a television interview crediting Mr Clinton as a “great leader” before adding “I don’t want my daughter near him”, a remark that inspired rage among the Clintons and their aides.
Political strategists were divided over whether the portrayal of Mrs Clinton and her entourage as vindictive would damage her 2016 chances.
A Republican strategist who asked not to be named said the image was an obvious attack motif for Republicans in 2016.
“There’s a pretty solid understanding that you don’t mess with the Clintons because they are retributive, take a lot of stuff personally and will basically break your legs when you’re not looking,” he said.
Democrats were more sanguine, arguing that such political gossip was of interest to a only tiny class of political insiders and would have little impact on the campaign trail. “It may be titillating but it is not important,” a former staffer in the Clinton White House told London’s The Daily Telegraph. “But it is also typical of the way the Clinton operation has functioned in the post-presidency period. They have been vindictive and difficult.
“It’s the thing about the Clinton world that is the most dispiriting. It has always been baffling and troubling that they have operated with such a level of animus toward people that they should remain friends with.”
Clinton insiders told the authors it was wrong to paint Mrs Clinton as “Nixon in a pantsuit”, while another long-time adviser said it was “absurd” to suggest the Clintons’ decisions were ruled by a hit list, but did not deny its existence.