In the nation’s capital it is commonly believed that the Clintons and the Obamas can’t stand one another. I pretend to no insider status with regard to such D.C. conflicts, certainly not on the Democratic side. But the latest batch of Hillary Clinton’s State Department emails, released today, offers some support for that belief.
The State Department released several thousand emails today. Out of curiosity, I searched for “Sid” and was rewarded with nine pages of documents–including, as always, duplicates. Sid Blumenthal ranked high on the list of those who emailed directly to Hillary at her off-the-books, unsecured address; most such communications were forwarded to her by Huma Abedin or Cheryl Mills.
Reading Blumenthal’s emails, one is reminded of the fact that he is an “old friend” of Hillary’s, as she told a Congressional committee, and has no such relationship with Barack Obama. When she became Secretary of State, Hillary wanted to appoint Blumenthal to a State Department post, but President Obama refused to go along. The Obamaites say this is because Blumenthal had no qualifications for a foreign policy position, but when has that ever stopped Obama? See, e.g., Ben Rhodes, Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser.
The current batch of emails, along with those previously produced, suggest a better reason why Obama didn’t want Blumenthal inside his administration’s tent. Blumenthal’s emails display an open contempt for the president and his closest advisers. A good example is this one, sent on September 28, 2010. It concerns the upcoming midterm elections, in which, by late September, everyone anticipated a Republican victory. The email begins with Blumenthal’s assessment of what is going on among the Republicans, whom he hates with a venom that is, on the written page, creepy. More interesting are his comments on the Obama administration. First, here is the document as produced by State:
This is what Sid Blumenthal said about Barack Obama and his minions:
1. A group of Democrats, including Paul Begala and David Brock, have given up on the White House, raised some money on their own, hired pollsters, drawn in Mike McCurry and others, and are plotting last minute desperate strategies. Welcome to Fort Apache. Begala says that after floating constant ideas to Rahm they are all knocked down by Obama himself.
2. Obama, as you have noticed, is on a nostalgia binge, campaigning on campuses, and sending cabinet secretaries to school gymnasiums across the country, attempting to relive the concert tour of 2008.
3. Rahm, as you know, is almost certainly leaving on Friday. Dutiful dolt (too kind a description) Jim Messina has taken over the politics. Politically, therefore, there is now no White House.
4. Stan Greenberg’s frantic gambit to get the House Democrats to take up tax cuts has collapsed, leaving them worse off than before, appearing ineffectual and divided. Nobody, it seems, anticipated this predictable outcome, not to mention that this approach wouldn’t help Democrats much and might marginally hurt them by raising tax cuts to the center of the campaign.
5. David Axelrod is whining about Rahm and Obama not following his wisdom, whining that he hates Washington, isn’t part of it, doesn’t get it, doesn’t want to get it, and yearns to leave. The inner circle loyalist turns disloyal, but in a miracle of utter obliviousness has no idea he’s damaging his principal and tarnishing the reputation (his own) he’s trying to save, unintentionally proving his larger point that he doesn’t fit in Washington—-all laid out in excruciating detail in an article in The New Republic. My friend, John Judis, at TNR, tells me that Axelrod backgrounded the writer of the piece. I’ve included it below. Skip the bio parts; just read Axelrod’s Complaint. Only Philip Roth could do this tragicomic justice.
Tick, tick, tick…
The reference to Portnoy’s Complaint is amusing, but Blumenthal’s deep contempt for Barack Obama and his closest allies comes through clearly.
Blumenthal began another email about the mid-term campaign, sent a few days earlier, as follows:
No comment on the inability of the White House to execute political themes, tactics and strategy; or sustain a campaign; or develop new ideas; or be behind [sic] the curve; etc.
Hillary Clinton was, in theory, the top appointed official in the Obama administration. Nevertheless, she not only listened to Sid Vicious’s portrayal of Barack Obama as an ineffectual fool without complaint, but continued for years thereafter to make Sid one of her most favored correspondents.
I think it is reasonable to infer that the long-rumored enmity between Barack Obama and the Clintons is a reality.