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Carl Bernstein about Bill Clinton's first term

Back in 2007, as Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Biden and several others were maneuvering in anticipation of the Democratic Party's upcoming presidential primary campaign, Alfred Knopf brought out a book by Pulitzer Prize winner Carl Bernstein, A WOMAN IN CHARGE, about Hillary's life.

Here's a fascinating passage, describing the inner workings of the Clinton administration in early 1994.

"Many of Bill Clinton's top aides felt that Hillary was impatient when listening to their criticisms [and that Ira Magaziner was acting as her bulldog]....Magaziner infuriated the president's aides when they learned he was meeting privately with the Clintons in the White House residence and urging them to make important decisions without consulting either the [health care] task force or the economic team. Hillary's stature with Bentsen and even her old friend Shalala was deteriorating.

"The president seemed caught between his wife and his advisers. More often than not, he would mediate disputes between them saying 'Let's revisit this.' In fact, a new dynamic in the Clinton partnership was developing: for the first time, he seemed inclined to placate Hillary, and make decisions he strongly believed were against his better instincts. That was a mistake."

It was a mistake because, on Bernstein's account, Bill's increasing disposition to placate Hillary led to the defeat of that administration's health care proposal, which became too exclusively the Hillary/Ira show, and to the Republican takeover of Congress that November.

As the world looks forward to another HR Clinton presidential campaign, this strikes me as worthy of contemplation.

 

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