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Hillary and Al: The White House Civil War

October 2nd, 2007 | 1 min read

By Matthew Lee Anderson

Sally Bedell Smith published an excerpt of her forthcoming book on the Clinton White House in Vanity Fair.   It is an interesting portrayal of how Hillary and Al’s respective campaigns clashed in the 2004 elections.

Choice quotes:
Bill and Hillary’s joint decision-making at the beginning of his presidency was as overt as it would ever be in the White House. “He would say, ‘Hillary thinks this. What do you think?'” said White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum. “They really were a partnership. She was the absolutely necessary person he had to have to bounce things up against, and he was that for her. I sensed a tremendous need for each other. They didn’t have to see each other, but they would talk continually every day.” In deference to her continuing role as Bill’s “closer,” staff members called Hillary “the Supreme Court.” “We would always say, ‘Has the Supreme Court been consulted?'” recalled Dee Dee Myers, the president’s press secretary for two years, now a V.F. contributing editor. Whenever Bill said, “Let me think about it,” aides knew he intended to call Hillary.


The Clintons had made a great effort during the 1996 campaign and afterward to minimize Hillary’s co-presidential role, but now Bill was spinning a different story of her “breathtaking range” of activities in domestic and foreign policy, which included a “significant contribution to the Irish peace process.” But he declined to touch on her back-channel operations and pervasive influence over personnel, notably her deep involvement in the political vetting of candidates for the federal bench and U.S.-attorney positions. (Italics added)