One of the assertions made on the robo calls to black voters in Mississippi on behalf of Sen. Thad Cochran was that the Tea Party, whose favored candidate Chris McDaniel was Cochran’s opponent, has engaged in “disrespectful treatment of the country’s first African-American president.” This is an oft-expressed complaint among certain blacks.
Sure, America elected a black president. But, the complaint goes, the lily-white Tea Party has disrespected him to an unprecedented degree. The abuse directed at George W. Bush (“Bush lied, thousands died”) and Bill Clinton (who was impeached) apparently made no impression on black critics of the Tea Party.
But it isn’t just the Tea Party, or even just Republicans, that “disrespects” President Obama. According to Ed Klein, Hillary Clinton has lambasted the president in terms that echo some of his conservative critics:
Hillary Clinton called President Obama “incompetent and feckless” and charged that he had “no hand on the tiller half the time” during a boozy reunion with college pals, a new book claims.
The scathing attacks came as the wine was flowing at a May 2013 dinner at Le Jardin Du Roi, a cozy French bistro near the Clinton family home in Westchester, according to “Blood Feud,” by best-selling author Edward Klein.
The former first lady, months removed from being Obama’s secretary of state, unleashed the verbal assault between sips of vino, sources told the author.
“When her friends asked Hillary to tell them what she thought — really thought — about the president she had served for four draining years, she lit into Obama with a passion that surprised them all,” Klein wrote.
Clinton ranted, “The thing with Obama is that he can’t be bothered, and there is no hand on the tiller half the time. That’s the story of the Obama presidency. No hand on the f–king tiller,” according to the book. . . .
“Obama has turned into a joke,” she went on, according to Klein.
Clinton even cited some of the same Obama administration scandals that so upset conservatives, though naturally she omitted Benghazi:
“The IRS targeting the Tea Party, the Justice Department’s seizure of AP phone records and [Fox reporter] James Rosen’s e-mails — all these scandals. Obama’s allowed his hatred for his enemies to screw him the way Nixon did,” she raged, the book says, adding that she called the president “incompetent and feckless.”
I should add that Klein’s breathless reporting has been questioned by mainstream outlets and, of course, by defenders of Clinton and Obama. And some of the questions may be fair.
Klein sometimes reports on events and thought processes that only the closest Clinton confidantes would know about first hand. Yet, Klein once wrote a scathing (and, I thought, over-the-top) biography of Hillary Clinton in which he claimed, for example, that she was a lesbian during her college days.
It thus seems unlikely that anyone close to Hillary would confide her private conversations, actions, or thoughts to Ed Klein.
In this instance, though, Klein is reporting on comments Hillary allegedly made at a reunion with a group of college friends. It’s plausible to think that someone in this cohort might have provided Klein with an accurate report of what she said.
In any case, the comments are probably not inconsistent with Hillary Clinton’s thinking. Indeed, they aren’t inconsistent with the faint praise she has bestowed publicly upon the country’s first African-American president.