Skip to comments.How Hillary Clinton made a pact with the devil for political power
Posted on 01/11/2008 5:00:12 PM PST by fanfan
Bill seduced any woman in sight - but let HER run the White House. She paid him back with explosions of foul-mouthed rage. As Hillary fights for power in her own right, a new book reveals the brutal truth about her marriage...
One evening in the winter of 1998, Bill and Hillary Clinton invited a small group of friends to watch a movie in the White House screening-room.
It was the first time they had surfaced socially after weeks of headlines about a 24-year-old intern called Monica Lewinsky.
Five days after the story had broken on January 21, Bill Clinton had stood before the TV cameras, wagged his finger, and emphatically denied having sexual relations with "that woman, Miss Lewinsky."
The next day, Hillary had blamed the accusations on a "vast Right-wing conspiracy" against her and her husband.
Since then, both Clintons had maintained silence on the even as lurid and specific details of Bill's affair with Lewinsky continued to emerge.
Now, though, they were settled in their large armchairs, ready for a welcome respite. And the film - a comedy called Something To Talk About, starring Julia Roberts and Dennis Quaid - began promisingly enough, with scenes of domestic bliss involving a successful couple called Grace and Eddie and their adorable preteen daughter, Caroline.
Then, suddenly, the plot took an ominous turn. Grace and Caroline spot Eddie outside his office building, kissing a beautiful blonde. Observing her mother's fury, Caroline asks: "Is Daddy in trouble?" "Big trouble," says Grace.
Not everyone in the film is sympathetic to the wronged wife. "You marry a guy whose nickname in college was Hound Dog - what did you think was going to happen?" says her sister.
But Grace has her revenge - in the form of a dinner of salmon with a sauce laced with emetics, a recipe helpfully suggested by an aunt.
"It's not lethal," explains the aunt. "It will, however, make him sick as the dog that he is."
The errant husband duly falls violently ill, retching and screaming in agony.
When the lights came up in the White House Family Theatre, Bill and Hillary were completely silent, recalled Mary Mel French, a friend whose own marriage had ended in a bruising divorce a few years earlier.
"We all wanted to slide under our chairs. Nobody said anything as we all got up to leave. I happened to be next to Hillary when we were walking out.
"She whispered to me: 'I'll tell you what. We should have that concoction. You should mix it up first and give me a portion.'
"We burst out laughing and couldn't stop."
Hillary Clinton's ability to laugh at such a moment of peril for her marriage - and her husband's presidency - not only signalled an awareness of her husband's philandering but showed "she was trying to make the best of a lot of things," recalled French.
It was a tantalising glimpse into a relationship that has fascinated and mystified the world. Their marriage has been dogged by Bill's tomcat tendencies since before they exchanged vows in 1975.
In Arkansas, where he was governor, his extramarital activities nearly broke the marriage twice.
Hamilton Jordan, then a prominent Democratic party worker, recalled that when Bill lost his first re-election for governor in 1980 he sought consolation by "recklessly chasing women."
In 1981, when their daughter Chelsea was a year old, a friend overheard Bill singing her a lullaby: "I want a div-or-or-or-orce. I want a div-ororor-orce."
And Bill's former chief of staff Betsey Wright said the couple again came close to separating later that decade.
If the Clintons had divorced, they would have been more fathomable. Instead, as Mary Mel French noted: "The Clintons are complicated because they stayed together."
The intriguing question, as Hillary battles on in her own quest for the presidency, is why she has chosen again and again to give her "Hound Dog" another chance.
Sixteen years ago this month, just as Bill was facing his first presidential primaries, a woman called Connie Hamzy told Penthouse magazine that he had propositioned her in a hotel lobby. He acknowledged that he knew her, but denied any impropriety.
Hillary's reaction was chillingly succinct: "We have to destroy her story."
Connie Hamzy faded away, only to be replaced by a queue of other women claiming sexual relationships with Bill.
And throughout it all his wife stayed at his side, apparently supporting his denials and usually helping him try to silence or rebut the stories of women who claimed anything from sexual harassment and assault to 12-year affairs.
Take the time a supermarket tabloid named no fewer than five mistresses, including a nightclub singer, Gennifer Flowers
When the story broke, Hillary was campaigning elsewhere, so Bill called her to warn her.
After the conversation, according to one report, "there was no scorn or sense of betrayal in her voice; she had long since accepted her husband's past and focused on winning a political future that would reward them both."
Indeed, Hillary gave a TV interview in which she said her husband's dealings with Flowers had an entirely innocent explanation: "Anybody who knows my husband knows that he bends over backwards to help people who are in trouble and is always willing to listen to their problems." American reporters promptly backed off.
Much later, Bill finally admitted under oath that he had indeed been involved sexually with Flowers - "a relationship that I should not have had."
Did Hillary know this at the time the scandal erupted? If so, she gave no sign.
Like her husband, she took offence whenever anyone publicly doubted her word. But after the Flowers episode, she secretly worked with New York lawyer Susan Thomases and Wright to contain any more "bimbo eruptions."
Subsequently, Jack Palladino, a San Francisco private detective, was secretly paid $100,000 to dig up dirt on a number of women who were likely to be trouble.
The idea was that, out of fear of exposure of their private lives, they would be convinced to sign affidavits denying they had been sexually involved with Bill.
"The Clintons were saying: 'This is the only way to fight them,'" said Arkansas lawyer Webster Hubbell, who helped the search.
"Anyone who criticised the Clintons, we wanted to know what was in their background and what might be in their closet. It was: 'Who did she sleep with and who were her boyfriends?'"
These were tough tactics. But whether or not the Clintons love each other in the way of most happily married couples, there is no doubt about their commitment to the pursuit of political power.
In fact, for more than three decades this is what has bound them together when other aspects of their lives showed signs of crumbling.
In some ways, they remain an unlikely couple: the earnest Methodist overachiever who freely acknowledges "I don't do spontaneity" and the instinctively affable and loquacious charmer who makes everything look easy.
Hillary considers Bill a "force of nature." Yet nearly everything about him is contradicted by something else. His wide-ranging intellect can be overridden by lapses in everyday common sense. He is by turns empathetic and self-absorbed, focused and un-disciplined, cerebral and priapic, idealistic and cynical, honest and evasive, inspiring and mortifying.
Above all, he is intuitive. "He was capable of constant emotional scans of everyone in the room while he was thinking," recalled one close Clinton associate.
"He could recognise, quantify and calibrate a response to the emotional state of the person with him."
Yet another side of him was classic alpha male, supremely self-confident and tough, and capable of a fearsome temper.
Political consultant James Carville warned against being misled by Bill's "quarter-inch of softness. You'll break your finger if you mistake that for going all the way through."
The downside of Bill's magnetism was his compulsive need to seduce. He even made several plays for Laura Tyson, the high-powered chairman of his Council of Economic Advisers.
"Once we were talking about an article I had written," Tyson recalled, "and he said: 'You should come over and show me your article.' I thought: 'This is bizarre. So I said: "I'll just send it over.'"
Another time at a White House dinner he commented on her alluring evening gown, saying "You'd better not wear that to work," to which she replied: "Of course I'll never wear this to work."
Said Tyson later: "It is pretty good protection if you don't let on any sign that this [kind of pass] is happening. It will go away."
Others readily succumbed to Bill's charms.
With her cool manner and formidable will, Hillary had to work harder to win people over. Her extreme earnestness has earned comparisons to a school monitor and a member of the Salvation Army.
Many men were put off by her give-no-quarter nature. In the words of one opinion poll guru: "She reminds most men of their first wife - or mother-inlaw."
Hillary is as unsentimental as Bill is mushy. She once wrote to a friend: "Unthinking emotion is pitiful to me."
When Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis - widow of President John F. Kennedy - sent a cheque to Bill's presidential campaign in 1992, he immediately said: "We can't cash this." Hillary's reply: "Make a copy and then cash it."
Said Ann McCoy, a friend from Arkansas: "You get a hug from Bill and a solution from Hillary."
Her powers of concentration and rigorous self-discipline are legendary. "You can see her sometimes almost censoring the first and second and third thing that comes into her head," said her longtime friend Diane Blair.
Even Hillary has acknowledged having an "obsessive personality."
Her husband noted in the second year of his presidency, with a wave toward his large Oval Office desk: "I might as well try to lift that desk up and throw it through the window as to change her mind."
Nor does Hillary ever feel compelled to explain her certainties - or much else about her thoughts and emotions. This defiantly closed nature has fuelled a perception that she was withholding information during numerous official investigations into the Clintons' affairs.
In fact, playing the role of "hidden hand" is one she enjoys.
"She was extremely Machiavellian, a master of doing things that could not be traced back to her," recalled one close colleague. "She would say: 'Do this, but don't leave any fingerprints.'"
Hillary's own mother once observed: "She just does everything she has to do to get along and get ahead."
This includes gritting her teeth about Bill's compulsive womanising. Her patience has its limits, however, and in 1989 Bill sought professional help for what friends called his "problem."
"I thought he had conquered it," Hillary said a decade later. "I thought he understood it, but he didn't go deep enough or work hard enough."
Hillary herself has been dogged by rumours that she is a lesbian, dating back to Bill's days as Arkansas Governor. These have been based mainly on her assertive manner, her lack of interest in her appearance, her indifference to flirting, her husband's chronic infidelity and her large entourage of women staffers.
But there has never been any evidence of sexual involvement with another woman - or, indeed, another man. Politics is what counts.
When she and Bill learned that they had won the presidency in 1992, their first reaction was to laugh. Hillary told a friend that the victory was "like the dog that keeps chasing the car and all of a sudden catches it."
Bill, however, was not solely focused on his electoral triumph. On the day that they were due to leave Little Rock, Arkansas, he made a private farewell - the sort of risky encounter that was later to imperil his presidency.
At 5.15 am that Saturday, he was visited in the basement office of the governor's mansion by Marilyn Jo Jenkins, an energy-company executive.
State troopers who worked for him later made sworn statements that he and Jenkins had been seeing each other since the late 1980s.
Trooper Danny Ferguson testified that he had escorted Jenkins to see Bill four times in the days before the Clintons left Little Rock. Bill had also phoned her frequently in the preceding years, with one call - at 1.23am from a hotel in Virginia - lasting 94 minutes.
Predictably, both Jenkins and Bill denied they had a sexual relationship, and she claimed that he had only been helping her through a "personal crisis."
But he ultimately admitted that he had been to her apartment ten times, and his lawyer, Robert Bennett, later noticed that he had a "forlorn and wistful" look when he talked about her.
Jenkins, it seems, was the focus of one of the crises that nearly ended the Clinton marriage.
However, as the Clintons' bus neared Washington DC, Bill was clearly able to put her out of his mind. Indeed, according to witnesses, the First Couple - then aged 46 and 45 - retired to the rear of the bus and "canoodled."
These moments of physical contact were companionable rather than passionate, and reflected Bill and Hillary's mastery of what White House Press Secretary Michael McCurry later called "the science of how they interacted publicly" - the well-practised whisper, the peck on the forehead even in periods of terrible tension.
It was a skill in which Hillary revelled. On January 21, 1993, Bill's first full day in office, she and Bill shook some 1,800 hands in three hours.
"We just screwed all these people," she whispered to her husband - a comment heard on network television.
Once they were installed in the White House, Bill gave his wife primacy even above his Vice-President, Al Gore - a formidable politician with far greater experience - even though, as his unelected spouse, she was barred by law from holding office.
She had eight friends - including former colleagues and school and university pals - in positions of power, while the Vice-President had just one.
Hillary and Bill were setting out to run the White House as one working unit: "Billary," as they had been known back in Arkansas.
It was a kind of compensation for Bill's extra-marital betrayals. As a senior official said: "The loss of gratification or dignity or fulfilment of one aspect of their relationship - marital fidelity - made him give her gratification, dignity and fulfilment in another."
But although Hillary was willing to accept what was in effect a copresidency, she didn't necessarily accept that it gave Bill the right to continue his seductions.
This, said the aide, "explains the continuing high level of anger on her part - her resentment seething beneath the surface."
From the start of their reign, the Clintons' temperamental differences and the tensions in their marriage intruded on policy, politics and personnel.
The staff in Arkansas had become inured to Bill and Hillary's fierce arguing, but their Washington advisers found it "demoralising," according to adviser David Gergen.
When the Clintons "got into a row... the rest of us sat in embarrassed silence."
The most unnerving aspect of the Clintons' altercations was their use of profanity, especially "f***" and "s***" - particularly shocking in Hillary's case because of her slightly pious air.
"She can swear like a trooper," said one of her friends.
When a White House aide forgot a podium for an event in the White House Rose Garden in May 1993, everyone was taken aback when Hillary yelled at Bill: "What the f*** goes on here! What is your staff doing?"
Bill could also turn irritable. His profanity-fortified rages - "cusswords for five minutes," said Abner Mikva, a White House counsel - were legendary.
These "purple fits," as the staff called them, were invariably disproportionate to the offence that triggered them.
Given the fraught climate, no one was particularly surprised when a report surfaced that during a heated dispute between Bill and Hillary, a lamp had been smashed.
The anecdote came from the Secret Service, whose agents were posted within earshot of the family's living quarters on the second floor.
The story rapidly transmuted into a claim that Hillary had actually "thrown a lamp" at her husband - an assertion she publicly denied. But she never directly addressed what had gone on, and her private reaction showed frantic concern.
"Hillary said: 'We have a lot of enemies and we have to fight back,'" White House counsel Bernie Nussbaum recalled.
"She became more hardened. We found we couldn't trust a lot of people like the Secret Service and the staff, leaking rumours about Hillary-and-Bill fights."
At Hillary's request, a new team of agents was installed and they switched their posts from the second floor to outside the elevators downstairs.
In this, as in other respects, her word was law. "There is a saying," said one top administration official, "If Mama's not happy, nobody is happy."
The joint decision-making at the top was so overt that staff members called Hillary "The Supreme Court." Whenever Bill said "let me think about it," aides knew he intended to call Hillary.
"We would always say: 'Has the Supreme Court been consulted?'" recalled Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers.
White House counsel Abner Mikva said that Bill could act "like a baby" around his wife, calling her "Hirree."
Such was the balance of power in the relationship that it was the President of the United States who usually ended up helping their 12-year-old daughter Chelsea with her homework.
Once, he told a morning meeting: "I was up late, working on the Mesopotamians."
He did not hesitate to tap the resources at hand to help him out. The White House economics team assisted with some algebra problems, while the communications director had to find some border guards to give Chelsea information for an immigration project.
Significantly, when the nurse at Chelsea's school needed to get permission to dispense an aspirin, the First Daughter said: "Call my dad. My mom's too busy." The nurse did in fact reach the President easily, and he was only too eager to remain on the phone for a chat.
Meanwhile, Hillary's routine participation in West Wing meetings was upsetting the equilibrium of official White House life. She "had a real chilling effect," said one long-time aide.
White House Counsel Bernie Nussbaum observed that Bill "would try to avoid fighting with her if he could, deflecting her if he could. It was not easy. She would say: 'Do this or that.' He would then be more careful."
Often, Bill would arrive at the Oval Office feeling buoyant, "almost whistling as he whipped through papers," recalled adviser David Gergen. Then the phone would ring and Hillary would be on the line.
"His mood would darken," wrote Gergen, "his attention wander, and hot words would spew out. Had we seen the outrageous things his enemies were saying about him now? Why was his staff screwing him again? What,I would wonder, had she said to him now?"
Even more disconcerting were Bill's evening phone calls - what Communications Director George Stephanopoulos called the "nightcap" - when Bill would chew out an adviser while Hillary was nearby.
"It was completely at odds with the emotional tenor of the relationship that person had with Bill," said one top official.
"It was vicious. When she walked out of the room, everything changed. Then the tone would change completely and he would say: 'Why don't you come over and watch football?'"
In meetings, Hillary's dissatisfaction could curdle the atmosphere when she directed her ire at his subordinates. "It was her way of saying to Bill: 'You are incompetent. Look at how your staff treats you,'" said White House adviser Robert Boorstin.
"Rather than insult Bill directly, she used the staff. People were scared of her because they knew she could chop off their testicles if she so chose. You did not cross Hillary."
Adviser David Gergen described how, with a dozen or so of her husband's aides gathered round, Hillary would let loose a tirade. "She would launch a deadly missile straight at [Bill's] heart and just before it hit, the missile would explode, the shrapnel hitting the staff."
Her vocabulary had a common theme: that the President's men were "wimps." Recalled one aide: "It was: 'You don't have balls, no guts.' The language was so striking. It seemed that every criticism was dual purpose and could apply to him, but at the last minute she didn't apply it to him."
Bill would react by flushing crimson and lashing out at his staff. "She knew how to press his buttons," said the senior official. "It was a conscious pattern."
Later, as the extent of Hillary's power in the White House became known, former President Richard Nixon was moved to observe: "Hillary pounds the piano so hard that Bill can't be heard."
Vice-President Al Gore was the biggest victim. It was a given in the White House that Hillary had to "sign off on big decisions," and even before Clinton's inauguration, her adviser Susan Thomases was quoted saying that Gore "would have to adjust to a smaller role."
The effect was to add a new layer of intrigue and rivalry to the West Wing, where advisers and cabinet officers knew they could lobby either the First Lady or the Vice-President to reverse decisions by the President.
David Gergen called the "threeheaded system" a "rolling disaster."
"Of course there were tensions," said one of the Clintons' longtime friends, who recalled private meetings in which Hillary encouraged her husband to discount Gore's advice.
It was an open secret that some of Hillary's advisers nurtured dreams that she, not Gore, would follow Bill in the presidency.
Throughout the day, Hillary was invariably on the move, striding from one office to another, holding a yellow legal pad and sheaves of notes and documents, and wearing thick bifocals and no make-up.
But her political touch was by no means as sure as her husband's.
She insisted on producing a complicated plan for sweeping health reforms that would guarantee medical insurance for all, but refused to consult experts who didn't already agree with her.
Her figures were dismissed as mindbogglingly unrealistic - and even Bill, after studying the plan in detail, said: "My brain aches."
During a trip to Massachusetts, he dared to suggest that the reforms might be watered down. Back in Washington, Hillary reacted with fury. An aide recalled how she picked up the phone and told the White House operator: "Get me the President."
Moments later, Bill came on the line. "What the f*** are you doing up there?" she screamed. "I want to see you as soon as you get back."
Her tone was as "hard-edged" as her advisers had ever heard. Several hours later, Bill arrived by helicopter and walked into the Diplomatic Reception Room, where an aide was waiting to escort him upstairs.
The next day, he publicly retracted his comments and even apologised, promising that he aimed to implement the reforms in full. Even so, it was only a matter of time before Hillary's hugely unpopular plan was ignominiously dumped.
Her response? To blame a "conspiracy" - this time in the medical profession.
It was the same language she used against the mistresses who lined up to accuse her husband. But as we will see on Monday, those accusers were proving impossible to silence.
Extracted from The Clintons At The White House by Sally Bedell Smith, to be published by Aurum Press on February 4 at £25.
To order a copy for £22.50 (p&p free), call 0845 606 4206.
Should this be in Chat, or Breaking?
Gag me with a spoon. They're nothing but a couple of real-life murderous gangsters.
It’s the type of piece that makes regular people think.
Have at it folks, I’m off for the night.
WHAT a total #ITCH! This brings back such horrible memories of the Clintoon presidency! This proves she is truly satan's spawn! Please dear Lord, don't let her win!
1/26/2008: Ten Year Anniversary
(Betcha the MSM buries it...)
Hillary Clinton didn’t make a pact with the devil.
Hillary Clinton IS the devil.
I have been amusing myself with a new name for her lately -- THE NOMINATRIX! Let's see if it sticks. If it does, I can't wait to see some of the photoshop stuff that will start appearing!
Just keep tearing up, dear...
Folie à deux......insanity shared by two...
This is Hillary, distilled.
What is it when you have thousands or millions sharing it and voting for them?
Hey, was that really necessary? Leave that type of comment to DU, please. We don’t need any comparisons to their style.
Talk about difunctional
Wow! What is wrong with the people in the United States that they just can’t see what she is? What would entice someone to vote for her?
Capital, my friend. Absolutely CAPITAL!
May I use it?
That’s one beatch we don’t need.
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