Borgias, Anyone? Ed Klein's Blood Feud
Blood Feud, Ed Klein's new book on the Clintons and the Obamas currently rocketing to the top of the Amazon best seller list even before its official publication day, is a lurid, irresponsible work of yellow journalism filled with suppositions, inaccuracies, myriad anonymous sources, made-up dialogue and (often extreme) bias.
In other words, it is essentially like your average front page story in the New York Times.
But unlike the Times, Klein gets it essentially right about his subject -- the Clintons and the Obamas despise each other.
And unlike the Times, Blood Feud is a compulsive read. I dare you to put it down. The book reminds you of nothing so much as an episode of Shonda Rhimes' television series Scandal -- and a particularly excessive episode at that. Even at its most seemingly illogical, Klein's work has the ring of truth. He's on to something, even if he hasn't hit the bull's eye.
The main characters here -- Hillary, Michelle, Barack, Bill and, to an extraordinary extent, real "power behind the throne" Valerie Jarrett -- read like a group of Borgias set free on today's Washington, loathing each other and plotting revenge while living a lifestyle even the one percent could barely dream of.
The idea that these people could even utter the words "income inequality" is farcical. At some point they may have had political ideas of some sort -- who knows -- but that was in a galaxy far, far away and has been lost forever in the latest round of golf, $200,000 speeches to Arab potentates or spur-of-the-moment trips to Maui to woo Oprah at her mansion.
A lot of the book too reads like a companion piece to Hillary's latest -- well, not exactly, since no one appears to be interested in that door stopper --because most of the leaks appear to be from people anxious to differentiate Hillary from Obama. POTUS, as we know, is not exactly popular these days and anyone seeking the presidency would be well advised to separate herself from him as far as possible. This accounts for much of the amusing dish in the book, Hillary even dropping the F-bomb in front of some of her amazed old classmates from Wellesley when referring to Obama's undeniable executive incompetence.
On a more serious matter, someone has given Klein an account of Benghazi that places the blame squarely on Obama for inventing the shameful video narrative. According to the book, the president directed his then-secretary of State to use the video as an excuse for what they both already knew was terrorism during the famous missing phone call between the two at 10 p.m. the night of the September 11, 2012 attack. If so, that was among the most reprehensible acts ever by a sitting American president (straight out of Scandal, actually) and to be honest, I generally believe it.
Unfortunately, that doesn't much exonerate Hillary who, after a troubled phone call to an irate Bill, quickly gave up demurring and went along with the execrable coverup, going so far as, only two days later at Tyrone Woods' funeral, whispering in the ear of the dead hero's father that they were going to get that guy who made the video.
Lurid as they may be, Klein's insider profiles of those who lead us often make you think of serious matters more than many "serious" and dry political books. What we have here is a portrait of narcissism gone berserk. And maybe that's what most politics is. Who would want to go through the ordeal of running for national office but someone with a serious narcissistic personality disorder? Perhaps the job of us voters (and pundits) is to separate the good narcissists from the bad narcissists.
That's not an easy task. Barack Obama's brand of narcissism seemed quite attractive to many early on with all its soaring talk of hope and change. Voters had no idea this man had only scant interest in the nitty-gritty task of governing. And the person they were really electing, as Blood Feud makes abundantly clear, was someone almost none of them had then heard of and most still haven't -- President Jarrett.
POSTSCRIPT: According to the Weekly Standard, I wasn't being facetious. America may now have found its Eva Peron.