Home / Culture and Society / The Fictional Rift Between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton

The Fictional Rift Between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton

Please Share...Print this pageTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook0Share on Google+0Pin on Pinterest0Share on Tumblr0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

Almost as soon as Hillary Clinton was named as President Obama's choice for his Secretary of State, the rumor mill began to churn and much was made of the "team of rivals" approach (a reference to a book about President Lincoln's cabinet, written by Doris Kearns Goodwin), which many pundits believed described Obama's cabinet selections.

Of all of Obama's cabinet choices, none garnered more attention and commentary from the media and pundit class than his former campaign rival, Hillary Clinton. While this was understandable to an extent, the Beltway crowd seemed to delight in the prospect of being able to cover continued bickering, spotlight-stealing and possible turf wars between the two former rivals. Add to this the fact that many of Clinton's 18 million supporters (of which I was/am, proudly, one) were not entirely pleased with the idea of her becoming Obama's Secretary of State and questioned his motives for selecting her.  Let's be honest, when a Clinton is involved, the media tend to assume the worst, even if the facts end up indicating otherwise.

We are a little over seven months into this administration, and there is little indication that media predictions about major policy differences and infighting between President Obama and Secretary Clinton have come to fruition. That said, it has hardly stopped the mainstream media or the blogosphere from creating controversy despite there being little evidence that one exists.

While Secretary Clinton's early approval ratings were among the highest of any in the administration, there began to be whispers that she had been tossed aside by Obama and that she was essentially the victim of a clever plot by the President to render her powerless. This theme seemed to be helped along when, in May of this year, the former Bill Clinton adviser turned professional Clinton-basher, Dick Morris, penned this commentary, entitled "The Incredible Shrinking Clintons," excerpted below:

Meanwhile, both Clintons are effectively muzzled and cannot criticize Obama even as he reverses President Clinton’s free market proclivities and budget balancing discipline. Hillary, the supposed friend of Israel, must sit by quietly and watch Iran get the bomb while trying all the while to stop Israel from preventing it.

Bill can’t even make money. Denied the ability to accept speeches from foreign governments or their organs and fenced out of continuing his profitable relationship with the Emir of Dubai, he and his wife must accept the loss of the $13 million they spent on her campaign and sit by passively, unable to earn the money to replace it.


How long will Hillary subject herself to this discipline? Likely as long as Obama is popular. Should his ratings fade, she might move away from the president and could even consider a primary contest against him in 2012. But while he is on top of his game, she’ll stay loyal.

But she is shrinking by the day…

It didn't seem to matter to some that Dick Morris always has his own agenda when he puts the names Bill or Hillary to paper, nor did it seem to matter that his entire commentary was based on self-serving speculation. How in the world does Dick Morris know that the Clintons "cannot criticize Obama even as he reverses President Clinton’s free market proclivities and budget balancing discipline?" Does he really expect us to believe he has an inside source in the Clinton camp that would give him this sort of first-hand knowledge of the relationship between the Clintons and President Obama? Please.

Interestingly, after Morris' commentary appeared, a whole new crop of "Hillary is invisible and has no power" articles began to appear in the mainstream media and blogosphere. Call me paranoid, but I can't help but think it's not a coincidence that many of these articles seemed to borrow themes from from Dick Morris' general template.

By the time this Politico article, provocatively titled "Hillary Clinton Toils In the Shadows," appeared a little over a week later, the new theme about Hillary's perceived invisibility and powerlessness became almost accepted fact.

But the best was yet to come when in early July, Tina Brown of the Daily Beast, came along and dropped the equivalent of a stink bomb right in the middle of any rational discourse. Her article/commentary was titled "Obama's Other Wife," and began with the controversial attention-grabbing line, "It’s time for Barack Obama to let Hillary Clinton take off her burqa."   Brown goes on to offer up her own dumbed-down take on the Secretary of State's role in foreign affairs in the Obama administration:

Consider the president’s Moscow trip a week ago. In a cozy scene at Vladimir Putin’s dacha, the boys enjoyed traditional Russian tea and breakfast on a terrace. Sitting on Putin’s right was the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov. Where was Lavrov’s counterpart? She was back home, left there with a broken elbow to receive a visit from the ousted Honduran president, José Manuel Zelaya.


Even when there’s legitimate credit to be had, she remains invisible. Contrary to administration spin that Joe Biden played a critical role in the decision to send more troops to Afghanistan, the vice president stayed opposed to Obama's strategy. It was Hillary, sources tell me, whom the president relied on throughout the deliberations with principal national-security advisers to support and successfully argue his point of view. The need to paper over the difference between Obama and the vice president meant Hillary’s role went unacknowledged…

Apparently, Ms. Brown thinks handling a coup in Latin America is beneath the Secretary of State, or at the very least, is unglamorous. Never mind that at the time of the Moscow trip, Secretary Clinton had just recently had elbow surgery and wanted to fully recuperate because her upcoming travel itinerary was packed with important trips where the President would not be present (i.e. India, Thailand, Africa). And never mind that Brown's claim that "Hillary's role went unacknowledged" with respect to deliberations over increasing troop levels in Afghanistan, was patently false. As a diehard Hillary supporter, it's hard for me to see how Ms. Brown or anyone else for that matter, can conclude that such demeaning, belittling claims actually help the Secretary of State, not to mention that her analysis is not exactly foreign policy reporting at its finest. But perhaps that wasn't her ultimate goal.

As far as I'm concerned, this sort of commentary perfectly demonstrates how the media just wants a controversy, even if that means they have to create one. One of the things most of these articles have in common is that noticeably absent from them are the stated views of Hillary Clinton herself, who has clearly rebutted the notion that she doesn't control her own foreign policy turf.

Just this week, the rumors of Secretary Clinton's dissatisfaction with her current job and boss surfaced yet again, and actually went viral on the internet. This time, it was all the result of a one sentence blog post written by Michael Goldfarb at the conservative Weekly Standard Online, which stated: "The boss hears from two sources that Hillary Clinton is considering stepping down as Secretary of State this fall in order to run for Governor of New York."

That's it, the sentence that launched a thousand blog posts. And she's stepping down from her post as Secretary of State to run for Governor of New York? Did I miss something? Has she ever said she was interested in that job? Why run for Governor of New York when you can run again for President of the United States? And great sourcing for Goldfarb's blurb, huh? I'm thinking that "the boss" Goldfarb is referring to is likely Weekly Standard managing editor, William Kristol, whose track record with political predictions leaves a lot to be desired. The lack of a source (other than his conservative, anti-Clinton boss) and/or any logic didn't seem to bother the New York  Post, either; it printed its own version of the claim, with some added juicy details (more speculation), which took off like a rocket in the blogosphere. In fact, so great was the firestorm that Secretary Clinton's spokesman took the unusual step of addressing the rumor head on, stating very clearly that it was false.

What makes these rumors of rifts between Obama and Clinton so frustrating, is that if one weren’t paying attention, one might be tempted to think that these media pundits are trying to do Hillary a favor by insinuating, albeit insultingly, that President Obama is under utilizing his smart, popular and very well respected Secretary of State; don’t get me wrong, in the very beginning, that thought gave me pause. But then as the articles started piling up, I started to wonder if perhaps some of these writers were just trying to create a controversy to cover while cleverly hiding behind what seemed, at the time, to be concern for Hillary Clinton's best interests.  To some extent it's worked, as many of my fellow Hillary supporters did their part to give these stories such wide exposure, apparently in the hopes that they were/are true.

I simply cannot logically conclude that all of this talk of Hillary as unwitting, silenced victim is helping the Secretary of State in any way, shape or form. If anything, it threatens to undermine her by focusing attention away from her foreign policy agenda and message and onto the increasing speculation about whether or not she continues to be a hapless victim of Obama’s huge ego. Now, I'm not saying Obama doesn't have a huge ego, I just think Hillary is not a victim of it, and continuing to claim she is could possibly be undermining her ability to get her diplomatic message out.

Don’t get me wrong, I wish Hillary Clinton were in the Oval Office, but right now at least, she’s not and she’s chosen to be Secretary of State, knowing full well what the job entails and where she fits in the larger scheme of things with respect to President Obama's decision making apparatus. Given that, I don’t see the point in trying to take advantage of old political wounds even though some in the media would clearly prefer to cover an all out tug of war between Secretary Clinton and the Obama team because that was what they predicted (hoped) would happen. But hey, I guess that’s easier to cover than, say, the intricacies of our relationship with India or China or the importance of the behind-the-scenes negotiations with President Zelaya and the de facto government in Honduras.

Powered by

About StacyB

  • Clavos

    An interesting and well-written article, Stacy. The behind-the-scene POV is fascinating

  • Hey, thanks Clavos and thanks for all your help!

  • As one of the lowly bloggers who has been battling these stories, I applaud this post! You have to ask yourself what the motives could possibly be for creating these fairy tales.

    Hillary Clinton has proven more than effective as Secretary of State. She has taken on a compete inventory of the relationships among the bureaus under her aegis in order to improve the interface among them. This is in addition to a complete revision of foreign policy for a new century.

    She was said to have been away from her work as a result of that broken elbow, but that. also, was a lie. She works hard every day, and presents a friendly, smiling image to the world, and the world is responding positively to her approach.

    Thank you, Stacy, for attacking the lies and for placing the focus where it belongs: on the work, the results, and the truth.

  • Thanks Still4Hill- it is frustrating when the focus is on speculation and juicy rumors instead of the work she is doing at State.

    And Clavos- sorry, that’s me above (SecyClintonBlog) it auto-filled with that. Again, thanks for your help

  • Congrats on your first article.


  • pcfs1

    Way to go Stacy. Thanks so much for a well written article. The lies must stop. But I feel the world knows she is a wonderful Sec. of State.




  • Stacy,

    Well written article, even if I do dislike Hillary Clinton, and even if at the end, you managed to travel along with the false Obam/Clinton line that Zelaya is the legitimate president of Honduras, instead of a power grabbing pig kicked out by its legitimate governing apparatus, according to its constitution.

    The one item you did not consider is the possibility of Hillary Clinton “going native” – tht is to say, becoming the spokesperson for the interests in the State Department, instead of governing over them and representing the president. This phenomenon is not peculiar to the State Department.

    I’m no making any accusations here. I’m simply pointing the absence of consideration of this possibility in the article.

  • I try to stay informed on all fronts, but must admit there’s a lot of political crap I don’t plow through, because it’s all so obviously horse-race, mountain-out-of-molehill, rumor-mongering crap. I believe these these two savvy pols (and lawyers) made a conscious decision to step out of campaign mode and genuinely join forces for the good of the nation. I have no doubt that if the opportunity presents itself in the future, they’ll both be capable of climbing back into the political ring to duke it out again. But unlike much of the public and certainly the media, I believe they have in common a sincere desire to make a positive difference and recognize that in order to do that in a period of multi-crises, they must stop playing games and just do the work. Besides, being Secretary of State isn’t exactly chopped liver; she consistently has the opportunity to speak truth to foreign power, and I’ll bet that when she’s out of microphone/camera range, she’s quite a force to be reckoned with. I think Obama is both smart and decent enough to recognize, respect, and treat her like the valuable asset she is. It’s sad and peculiar that we’ve come to the point where so many newspeople assume that what they’re covering are power-plays in political gamesmanship, rather than creative policy in action. It never seems to occur to these people that for many politicians, the sweetest part of the “game” is actually practicing good governance — and it’s always best to be a team player. Lastly, Hillary’s no fool; she recognizes that the job Obama must cope with is not the job they’d been competing for; it’s an unexpected blizzard of a shit storm. I believe her when she says she loves being Secretary of State; what’s not to love? Thank you, Stacey, for defending Hillary’s honor. I’m confident she’s happy with her niche of power and prestige and that she and the president are getting along together just fine.

  • csh

    The media is simply obsessed with Hillary Clinton and will never stop speculating on her moves and (perceived) motives.

    That’s what happens when you are the most fascinating woman in the world.

    Let’s hope she runs for President again in 2016!

  • Tia

    Totally agree with this article…Tina Brown needs to take her EURO arse back to where she came from. Because Hillary is not seeking the spotlight…she is being overshadowed? Clearly anyone who has ever read any serious foreign policy heavyweights..i.e ignatius would see that Obama trusts Gates then Hillary and Biden are a toss up..but no, these idiots are still on the election cycle. I think the only mistake Obama made is thinking the media would grow up…they have become TMZ and it only gets worse by the day. Today Bill and Barack are having lunch..should i start a rumor and say Obama might ask Bill to replace Hillary..blogs start your engines…

  • Baronius

    People trace their relationship back to the primaries for good reason. I’ve always assumed that the reason Clinton didn’t challenge Obama at the convention was that Obama made a deal with her. But I completely agree with Stacy about Dick Morris. I don’t read him about anything, but he’s positively deranged on the subject of the Clintons.

  • Chuck

    I’ve never read anything on this site before — never heard of it, actually. But if this article is any indication of the kind of writing here, I will be reading a lot more of it. As someone who likes both Obama AND Hillary, I have to say this was a refreshingly insightful piece.

  • Truth Matters

    Ruvy is right.

    I live in Honduras, I know what is going on, and yes she “managed to -INTENTIONALLY- travel along with the false Obama/Clinton line that Zelaya is the legitimate president of Honduras” because she KNOWS the facts and like Obama Hillary MAKES NO REAL DECISIONS.

    Why won’t anyone cover the FACT that Hillary and Obama ditched the entire media corps June 08 to violate the Logan Act to meet with powerful international interests at the Westfields MARRIOTT hotel in Virgina?

    Because you refuse to consider that you are all being lied to and that Hillary just might not be looking after your best interests:

    I challenge you to investigate the FACTS presented in this documentary released March 2009.

  • John lake

    I wasn’t aware Bill Clinton had ties to the UAR in Dubai. I have however within these BC pages made note that the Bush Administration had some hope of turning seaports over to the Emirate, then giving control to Halliburton.

    As to the plot to render Ms. Clinton powerless, she rather brought that about herself:
    I wrote:
    “In a news conference on Thursday, July 23rd, united States’ Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saidthat North Korea, belligerent and testing nuclear weapons in spite of near unanimous agreement from the world community that this behavior is intolerable, and a growing threat, had “No friends left.”
    “Speaking to ABC news, she compared the North Korean Government in Pyonyang to “Small Children, unruly teenagers, and people who are demanding attention”
    Clinton and other U.S. Government officials have fashioned the position that Pyonyang is intentionally acting in a provocative and combative way so as to gain world and U.S. attention, resulting in favorable treatment in economic and such spheres.Now an anonymous North Korean official has declared that Secretary of State Clinton is “by no means intelligent” and a “funny lady.” “Sometimes she looks like a primary schoolgirl and sometimes a pensioner going shopping,” Rather exact in his speech and usage for a Asian gentleman,presumably speaking English as a second language, don’t you think?Now don’t get me wrong. Maybe the Koreans aren’t bantering nonsense witticisms based on emotion. Maybe they aren’t even “looking for attention.”

    Maybe Clinton’s viewpoint, now adopted by our state department is indeed, simplistic. Maybe Pyonyang has more involvement in these issues than trying to win sanctions from America, and the world community.Recently the North Korean government clearly stated that America was “behind every mishap that has befallen them.” They say that America has been in opposition to them for years, and this is a cause of their struggle. Some philosophically inclined observers may see that statement as an excellent opportunity for a candid and meaningful dialog. A chance for us to deny that we “just oppose them.” An opening for some fresh discussion.

    I hope that Secretary Clinton isn’t in fact being a little immature, a little lacking in wisdom when she accuses this historically militaristic government of “seeking attention”

    Democrats should be proud of the powerful and capable President Clinton for un-doing the damage his wife did in N. Korea, and reestablishing American credibility.

  • Sammie

    Thank you for a wonderful article about the MSM stoking the fires of discontent and untruths around Secretary Clinton. I have been concerned about this very issue for many years now and it has gone unchecked for too long. She is an amazing patriot and leader for our country and she has shown true grace esp. after the 2008 primaries and election. Please continue to advance the facts for her and all Americans who honor truth.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Stacy –

    I was a alternate Washington state delegate for Hillary – watched her speak with no teleprompter, watched her answer dozens of questions with truly detailed answers…she would be a great Commander in Chief. I’m happy to have helped make at least one of those 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling.

    That said, I strongly support Obama and sincerely hope that he’s there for eight years – at least that way we’d have sixteen years’ worth of great presidents.

    I am not a natural leader…but if there’s anything I learned in my military career, I do know that in order to lead, one must know how to follow. Hillary has said not one word of real criticism of Obama since her concession speech – and for someone who was so close to the Oval Office, who knew so much more about the office of the presidency than did her opponent…that’s character.

    Obama in 2012…and Hillary in 2016 and 2020! You know, out in the garage I’ve still got her campaign sign….

  • Thanks to all those who commented on my article here, it is much appreciated.

    Regardless of political differences and even views on US foreign policy, I think that most on the left or the right can see that the MSM has a tendency to sometimes create its own storyline, even where none exists.

    What struck me about Hillary’s time as SOS thus far, is that despite having the highest approval rating of anyone in the administration, the media *still* needs to contrive a story about personal problems between she and Obama and there is not a shred of REAL evidence to be found, that that is indeed the case!

    Again, thanks for taking the time to comment.

  • wufacta

    Thank you Stacy. This article is what I have suspected ever since the Politico article in June but I did not have all the facts.

    My suspicions about the sources of these stories and their likely motivations are now cemented into conviction by what you have written. Needless to say articles like yours will never be given any berth among the gatekeepers-that-be of mainstream political news and innuendo.

    I wrote a diary about this article on Daily Kos.

  • Ursala

    I wished that America would vote for Hillary because she is better than Obama but that is the same here in South Africa where Jacob Zuma won agiants Helen Zille… Both women are mothers, wives, women, and outstanding leaders, one hope to see both of them after the next gen election in office and I believe Hillary has space because what she showed the world that she is a team player rember before the election Obama didn’t want to be part of the dream ticket… But Hillary showed us she goes above the situation… meaning she is a bigger person than what she was. And also why isn’t Celsea Clinton running for senate she will be 30 for Kenndy open seat… Come one she has her mother and father looks and brains but the best part is she is CELSEA CLINTON, SHE GOT IT!!!

  • Wufacta- thanks for letting me know about your journal on DKos. I’m just hoping that maybe the next time people read the Clinton rumor-of-the-week they will question who is pushing it and why before simply assuming it is true. Also, just because some people, including some Hillary supporters, are not happy she joined Obama and accepted the job at State, does not mean Hillary is not currently happy with her current role. Do people really think she took the job not realizing that the POTUS can have a big say in foreign policy?