Much to the chagrin of the Washington Post, Ed Klein’s Blood Feud is outselling Hillary Clinton’s new memoirs. Naturally, Klein is elated. “It is a terrific thrill to knock Hillary off the top of the [best-seller] list, I have to tell you. She helped me a lot, because she put out a committee-written book that has absolutely nothing new in it.”
In contrast, Klein’s Blood Feud is loaded with juicy details, and dramatic scenes of five of the most powerful people on the planet scheming against each other.
Five? In addition to his portraits of the Clintons and the Obamas, Klein’s Blood Feud sheds new light on one of the most mysterious members of Barack and Michelle’s inner circle, Valerie Jarrett. As Klein describes Jarrett, she’s the distaff equivalent of Tom Hagen, the dangerous consigliere pulling the strings behind the scenes of The Godfather.
During our 18-minute long interview, Klein will discuss:
● What roles did Jarrett and Hillary play in the Benghazi debacle starting on September 11, 2012?
● What was the key promise that the Obamas made to Bill and Hillary, that the president would later renege on?
● Obama’s political skills versus his performance on the job he’s landed with them.
● How will Hillary perform on the campaign trail in 2015 and 2016 and, if she wins, as president?
● What are the health issues plaguing Bill and Hillary, and how serious a threat are they?[audio:http://pjmedia.com/eddriscoll/files/2014/07/ed_klein_interview_7-19-14-1.mp3]
(18 minutes, 50 seconds long; 17.2 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this interview to your hard drive. Or right click here to download the 5.38 MB lo-fi edition.)
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Transcript of our interview begins on the following page; for our many previous podcasts, start here and keep scrolling.
MR. DRISCOLL: This is Ed Driscoll for PJ Media.com, and we’re talking today with Ed Klein of edwardklein.com, the author of the best-selling new book, Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. the Obamas. It’s published by Regnery and available from Amazon.com. And Ed, thanks for stopping by today.
MR. KLEIN: Well, it’s great to be with you, Ed.
MR. DRISCOLL: Ed, much to the chagrin of the Washington Post, Blood Feud is outselling Hillary Clinton’s new memoirs. At the risk of asking you one of the ultimate cliched interviewer questions, how does that make you feel?
MR. KLEIN: Great. Period. End of paragraph. New paragraph. It is a terrific thrill to knock Hillary off the top of the list, I have to tell you.
MR. DRISCOLL: What is your take on her new book?
MR. KLEIN: Well, she helped me a lot, because she put out a committee-written book that has absolutely nothing new in it. And I’m not the only one that says that; even the liberal mainstream media has criticized her for that. And on top of which, she then went on a book tour in which she stepped all over herself and made some very silly, stupid, amateuristic comments about her wealth and lack of wealth and that she was against gay marriage, before she was for gay marriage. You know, I mean, it was a disaster.
So the combination of a poorly written book, poorly promoted, has at least something to do with the fact that Blood Feud, my book, was able to outsell hers for the last two or three weeks.
MR. DRISCOLL: In contrast to the pedantic, as you put it, written by committee feel of what’s obviously intended to be Hillary’s mandatory pre-campaign tome, I have to say, I loved Blood Feud. I read much of it on a three-hour plane flight last week from San Francisco to Dallas; once I got started, I couldn’t put my Kindle down. To sum up your book in a sentence, the Clintons and the Obamas really don’t like each other very much, do they?
MR. KLEIN: They don’t. And, you know, the mainstream media has been reporting to the fare-thee-well, the bad feelings between the Tea Party and the establishment wings of the Republican Party. However, they’ve virtually ignored the fact that there is an equally if not even more intense rivalry going on between the two great Democratic families, the Obamas and the Clintons, who represent opposing wings of the Democratic Party.
Now, if you’re a conservative, you look at the Clintons and the Obamas, they look very similar, but in fact they really represent very different philosophies. The Clintons are much more pragmatic, center-left, whereas the Obamas are way, way over there on the left. He himself has clearly stated that he’s trying to transform this country into a European-style social democratic state. The Clintons are not in the same category, and that’s a story that the mainstream media has totally missed. And I think when my book came out they were, quite frankly, shamed by the fact that they were no longer doing their job.
MR. DRISCOLL: Blood Feud also helps to shed some light on one of the more mysterious members of the Obama administration, and that’s Valerie Jarrett. What is her relationship with the president? And how long have they known each other?
MR. KLEIN: Well, you remember The Godfather and Tom Hagen, who is a consigliere to the Godfather?
MR. DRISCOLL: Barack Obama’s favorite movie!
MR. KLEIN: Yeah, that’s right, and maybe he got the idea from that movie, because Valerie Jarrett is the Tom Hagen of the Obama administration; she is the consigliere. Both Obama and his wife Michelle have made it clear numerous times on record that they don’t make a single decision without first going to Valerie Jarrett. She’s a sort of strange combination of big sister, mother figure, consigliere.
If you recall ‑‑ if you’re old enough to remember the Franklin Roosevelt administration, Harry Hopkins lived in the White House and was friends with both Eleanor and Franklin. Well, she’s like that. She literally has moved into the White House. She has a suite of rooms in the residence that she permanently occupies. She has a Secret Service detail of her own. She has forty people working for her; four-zero. And she dines with the Obamas at night; she goes on vacations with them. She’s the last person to leave the Oval Office after a meeting. She has the president’s ear like no one else.
MR. DRISCOLL: In Blood Feud, you argue that Jarrett played a role in some of Obama’s otherwise inexplicable foreign policy decisions regarding Syria. Could you talk about that?
MR. KLEIN: Yes; I’d be happy to. You know, this has been a mystery to the media why did Obama renege on his threat that he was going to ‑‑ that there was a red line that he would bomb the Syrian chemical-weapons facilities if they used those weapons. And even his own staff, including Denis McDonough, who’s his chief of staff, was taken by complete surprise when he said, I’m going to go to Congress and get their approval, knowing full well that Congress was not going to approve it.
And according to my sources who I feel are absolutely impeccable on this issue, it was Valerie Jarrett who talked him out of following through on the red-line threat. And she, according again to my sources ‑‑ and I’m talking about people who speak to Valerie Jarrett, so they’re not just making this up out of whole cloth; they’re talking to her, and this comes from her. She told him, you were not elected to be a war president, you ran against being a war president, you were elected to change society and make it more equal, and all that sort of stuff, you know, because she’s a very big left-winger. And he listened to her. And the credibility of the presidency and, even more important, the credibility of the United States, was severely damaged by his failure to go through with that threat.
MR. DRISCOLL: Did Jarrett also play a role in turning away Obama’s support for Hillary’s assumed upcoming presidential bid?
MR. KLEIN: Well, you know, I think in that case we’re talking really about a triumvirate in the White House: Barack Obama, Michelle Obama and Valerie Jarrett, all of who see pretty much eye to eye on almost all issues. And in their view, they’re already thinking about Barack Obama’s legacy and who’s going to carry it out after he leaves the White House. They’re already talking about his library. They’re talking about where they’re going to live. They’re talking about what Michelle and Valerie are going to do, would Michelle run for office.
And one of the things they’re talking about is that the Clintons ‑‑ and we know it’s two for the price of one; if you vote for Hillary, you’re going to get Bill too ‑‑ would undo many of the things that Obama’s been trying to do and some of which he’s accomplished. And indeed Hillary, according to The Wall Street Journal and even The New York Times, has begun to fulfill their worst dreams, or nightmares, which is, distancing herself even now from Obama.
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MR. DRISCOLL: Whatever his skills as a candidate and public speaker, both your 2012 book The Amateur and Blood Feud paint a portrait of Barack Obama as being wholly unsuited to the day-to-day executive aspect of the presidency. What’s your take on Obama’s political skills versus the job he’s landed with them?
MR. KLEIN: You mean his political skills in getting elected?
MR. DRISCOLL: Yes.
MR. KLEIN: He’s got fantastic political skills in getting elected. He’s obviously been elected twice, the second time certainly not ‑‑ I mean, forget the first time. But the second time, I mean, he ran on no record, a record of failure in the economy and everything else, and yet he got reelected.
So we have to give the devil his due and say this man and his team ‑‑ that’s very important; his Chicago team ‑‑ have been brilliant in their political skills in campaigning. But as everyone knows, whether you ‑‑ campaigning and governing are very different ‑‑ require very different skills, and that’s where he’s lacking in governing; he doesn’t have those skills, and he didn’t deserve to be president in the first place.
MR. DRISCOLL: Hillary Clinton is also someone who has serious flaws as a politician and leader. What’s your opinion of how she’ll do, both as a prospective candidate in 2015 and 2016, and if she wins, as president?
MR. KLEIN: Well, my view of Hillary is, I think, along with a lot of other people, not only conservatives but independents and even liberals ‑‑ been colored by the abject failure of the rollout of her book, which was a ‑‑ as you, I think, put it early in our conversation now, a kind of pre-campaign campaign. And I saw her last night on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, where she was greeted by a fellow liberal and was very boring. Unlike, say, Elizabeth Warren, who is far to the left but can excite a crowd and can ignite real feelings of passion, Hillary ‑‑ there’s something missing in Hillary; and I think this is going to be a real problem for her, perhaps in the run-up to the nomination, if Elizabeth Warren or somebody like her enters and challenges her, but more importantly in the general election. I think if the Republicans, for a change, would get their act together and put up a really strong, conservative, sunny candidate, I think she’s eminently beatable.
MR. DRISCOLL: What’s your take on how she and the White House handled Benghazi?
MR. KLEIN: Well, you know, I have a whole section in my book, Blood Feud, about that; and to summarize it quickly, she was there in her seventh-floor office in the State Department when the Benghazi story broke. She was updated practically hourly by the CIA, by the National Security Council, by the deputy ambassador in Libya, what was going on. She knew from the get-go that this was a terrorist attack.
Then at 10 o’clock that night, while the attack is still going on, she gets a phone call from Barack Obama. This has been widely reported that he called her, not only in my book. But what has not been reported is what went on in that conversation; and this comes from the Clinton side. She was leaned on by the president to issue a statement saying that this was a video-motivated attack. She knew that was not true. She called Bill Clinton, who was in Little Rock in his fifth-floor penthouse apartment on top of the William Jefferson Clinton Library doing God knows what, and they had a big long discussion about this. And they decided that they ‑‑ that she could not go up against the president, because if she publicly broke with the president over Benghazi, which, by the way she was responsible for in any case, that she might harm Barack Obama’s chances for reelection, which was in six weeks. So they decided she had to go along with this fairy tale; and she did, because she didn’t want to alienate the Democratic Party by going against the president.
So she not only knowingly lied but she enthusiastically lied about it even when the flag-draped coffins were returned from Benghazi. And she told members of the families that she was going to get the guy who did the video, knowing full well it had nothing to do with it.
She sidestepped the five Sunday talk shows that she was asked to go on, because Bill Clinton, according to my sources, convinced her not to go on those Sunday talk shows. She’s not very good on television, especially when she’s pressed, and she loses her temper and loses her cool. So Susan Rice went on instead.
But then, of course, Hillary testified before Congress and started flailing her arms and saying, what different does it make. And of course all that’s on videotape and it’s going to be replayed a million times when and if she runs for president.
So I think Benghazi is definitely an albatross around her neck.
MR. DRISCOLL: In Blood Feud, you write that both Bill and Hillary have some pretty serious health issues. Can you talk about those?
MR. KLEIN: Yes. They share the same cardiac doctor, Dr. Allan Schwartz at the New York Presbyterian Hospital. In Hillary’s case, after she fainted in December of 2012 and had that blood clot on her brain, she had ‑‑ she underwent a thorough examination in the hospital, including a stress test, and they discovered that she had a heart-valve problem; this has never been, you know, reported before until Blood Feud, in my book. And they considered doing a heart-valve replacement operation, decided against that, for the time being at least, but told her that ‑‑ and told Bill that she had to be monitored closely for the rest of her life. Now, whether that in any way disqualifies her for the presidency, I’m not in a position, because I’m not a doctor, to say. But I do think that what we are owed from any candidate, especially one who has some health issues, is a full disclosure of her medical records.
Bill, on the other hand ‑‑ everybody knows that’s he’s had progressive heart disease for a long time, and people have been whispering about how bad he looks, how cadaverous he looks. He knows that he’s in fact living on borrowed time in the sense ‑‑ I don’t mean to say that he knows he’s dying, but he could easily die, as he has said himself many times to his friends, because his heart is not healthy. And he’s talked openly with Hillary and their friends about what would happen if he should die. Some people think she might not run if he dies. I’m not so sure that’s true. And he himself has said to her that she could capitalize on his death. Now, that’s a very strange thing to say to your wife, but he apparently ‑‑ not apparently, but he’s said, according to my sources who were there, that he’d like a big state funeral, that he’s thinking about being buried in Arlington National Cemetery because he was commander-in-chief, even though he was also a draft-dodger, and that she should dress in black widow weeds, because, as he put it, the sympathy vote will be worth at least two million votes.
MR. DRISCOLL: And Ed, last question. In his book The New Journalism, Tom Wolfe talked about using reporting techniques to construct detailed scenes. As in that last example of Bill Clinton planning both his funeral and giving Hillary advice on how she can leverage it politically, you have some remarkable scenes featuring some of the most powerful people in the world in both The Amateur and Blood Feud. You mentioned earlier who some of your sources are for the dialogue in your scenes. What’s your response to critics who might question the accuracy of the scenes you’ve recreated?
MR. KLEIN: Well, I do have a Note to the Reader at the end of the book ‑‑ I probably should have put it at the front of the book, but I didn’t; I didn’t want to interrupt the flow ‑‑ in which I explain as best as I can why people like Bob Woodward, why Heilemann and Halperin, who wrote Game Change, and why other people who do contemporary political books, including the reporters of The New York Times and other newspapers, depend largely on anonymous sources, because if you’re reporting about what’s going on now, the people who know anything are not going to talk on the record, for fear of losing their access to the circles that are among ‑‑ close to the people in power.
I, like many reporters ‑‑ and I’ve been a journalist, as you know, for about fifty years; New York Times, Newsweek, Vanity Fair, et cetera ‑‑ try to always use at least two sources for everything I get and to double-check the accuracy of the quotes with other people who are also using our sources, so that we’re as close to the total accuracy as we can possibly get.
And if you go to the videotape, as the old saying goes, in my book, “The Amateur” ‑‑ and I think the same thing’s going to happen with Blood Feud ‑‑ you’ll see that, time and again, what I report is later confirmed by other reporters who catch up with me.
MR. DRISCOLL: This is Ed Driscoll, and we’ve talking today with Ed Klein of edwardklein.com, the author of the best-selling new book, Blood Feud. It’s published by Regnery and available from Amazon.com. And Ed, thanks for stopping by PJ Media.com today.
MR. KLEIN: Well, I have great regard for PJ Media; I read it all the time. And thank you for having me.
(End of recording; for our many previous podcasts, start here and keep scrolling.)