Who's #1 on Hillary's 'traitor' list?
A new book out about Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign reveals that as the bitter primary season progressed, Clinton aides kept a "Traitor List," even ranking those Democrats who she felt had betrayed her.
The list included rankings, with those who were considered the most egregious traitors by Clinton loyalists receiving the worst possible score of 7 on a point scale.
Then-Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who would ultimately succeed Clinton as Secretary of State in the Obama administration, was among those receiving the blackest of black marks, according to the book HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton by The Hill's Amie Parnes and Politico's Jonathan Allen.
So too was Kerry's Senate colleague from Massachusetts, Edward Kennedy, who died in 2009. Also on the political hit-list were Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) as well as Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Rob Andrews (D-N.J.) and Baron Hill (D-Ind).
The book makes clear the depth of the wounds inflicted during the primary struggle.
"Years later," Parnes and Allen write, Clinton aides "would joke about the fates of folks who they felt had betrayed them. 'Bill Richardson: investigated; John Edwards: disgraced by scandal; Chris Dodd: stepped down,' one said to another. 'Ted Kennedy,' the aide continued, lowering his voice to a whisper for the punch line, 'dead.'"
Kerry was the Democratic Party's standard-bearer in the 2004 presidential election and President Clinton had campaigned hard for him in the final stretch of that campaign, even though he was recovering from major heart surgery at the time.
In 2008, however, Kerry did not merely endorse Obama; he did so at a very vulnerable time for the then-senator from Illinois. Having won the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, Obama then lost the New Hampshire primary to Clinton despite holding a large lead in almost all opinion polls.
Two days later, Kerry appeared at a rally with Obama in South Carolina. "Who better than Barack Obama to turn a new page in American politics so that Democrats, independents and Republicans alike can look to the leadership that unites to find common ground?" he said.
The reference to a "new page" was most obviously a criticism of the administration of President George W. Bush, who had vanquished Kerry in 2004. But it was also seen by some as a jab at the Clintons, whom the Obama campaign was trying to paint as synonymous with politics as usual.
Politicians keeping enemy lists is hardly newsworthy, except when someone is stupid enough to write it all down and allow the list to be circulated.
It's also not news that Hillary Clinton is a vindictive woman whose hatred of her political foes borders on the pathological. Her fierceness in protecting her husband often crossed the line. She, far more than Bill, was feared in the White House.
In this case, all's well that ends well. Most of those on the list will back her candidacy this time around and the list will largely be forgotten. But it stands as a stark reminder at a time when Governor Chris Christie is being skewered for his petty vindictiveness that the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination has her own problems with a prickly personality.