Culture

Hillary's Hit List

Hillary Clinton

Bill and Hillary have a notorious reputation for maintaining enemies and holding political and personal grudges. Now, a forthcoming book reports that Hillary Clinton kept a spreadsheet with a list of enemies on it following her loss in the 2008 presidential campaign. HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton by Amie Parnes and Jonathan Allen is set for release on February 11, and its authors reveal the details of the “hit list” in the book.

The so-called “hit list” reportedly was entered into a Microsoft Excel document at the end of Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential bid. In one draft, Democrats in Congress were even given a rating, from 1 to 7, with 7 being the worst.

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The list of who’s naughty and who’s nice — in their eyes — was largely based on who endorsed then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008, who endorsed Clinton and who sat out the race.

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The list was made not just to keep track of those who betrayed the family, but also to keep track of those who did right by them, for the purpose of returning political favors.

An excerpt from the book goes into detail as to who made the list and why:

“We wanted to have a record of who endorsed us and who didn’t,” said a member of Hillary’s campaign team, “and of those who endorsed us, who went the extra mile and who was just kind of there. And of those who didn’t endorse us, those who understandably didn’t endorse us because they are [Congressional Black Caucus] members or Illinois members. And then, of course, those who endorsed him but really should have been with her … that burned her.”

For Hillary, whose loss was not the end of her political career, the spreadsheet was a necessity of modern political warfare, an improvement on what old-school politicians called a favor file. It meant that when asks rolled in, she and Bill would have at their fingertips all the information needed to make a quick decision—including extenuating, mitigating, and amplifying factors—so that friends could be rewarded and enemies punished.


Hillary Clinton debates Barack Obama in 2008

Their spreadsheet formalized the deep knowledge of those involved in building it. Like so many of the Clinton help, [aides Kris] Balderston and [Adrienne] Elrod were walking favor files. They remembered nearly every bit of assistance the Clintons had given and every slight made against them.

Almost six years later most Clinton aides can still rattle off the names of traitors and the favors that had been done for them, then provide details of just how each of the guilty had gone on to betray the Clintons—as if it all had happened just a few hours before. The data project ensured that the acts of the sinners and saints would never be forgotten.

There was a special circle of Clinton hell reserved for people who had endorsed Obama or stayed on the fence after Bill and Hillary had raised money for them, appointed them to a political post, or written a recommendation to ice their kid’s application to an elite school.

On one early draft of the hit list, each Democratic member of Congress was assigned a numerical grade from one to seven, with the most helpful to Hillary earning ones and the most treacherous drawing sevens. The set of sevens included Sens. John Kerry, Jay Rockefeller, Bob Casey, and Patrick Leahy, as well as Reps. Chris Van Hollen, Baron Hill, and Rob Andrews.

The excerpt tells specific details about the offenses Senators Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) committed against the Clintons and what members of the campaign staff did in response to those wrongs.

Naturally, other members of Clinton’s inner circle downplay both the existence and the importance of the “hit list.”

The list, sources tell the authors, was sent to Doug Band, who at the time served as aide de camp to former President Bill Clinton.

“I’m sure Doug does have some sort of…memo on his Blackberry like the rest of us,” the adviser said in the book, “but the notion that it is updated, circulated, disseminated, and relied upon is absurd.”

We’ll have to wait for the book’s release – and whatever fallout that may ensue – to judge the veracity of the hit list story. But in the meantime, doesn’t such a list sound Clintonesque?