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January 13, 2014 1:07 PM The Clinton “Hit List”

By Ed Kilgore

Well, Politico Magazine—supposedly an outlet for deeper dives into political issues than the regular site offers—is having itself quite the day. There’s the aforementioned Mitch McConnell piece, a short and shameless piece of partisan propaganda. And then there’s an excerpt from an upcoming book on Hillary Clinton by Politico staffers Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, aimed at promoting the hardy bipartisan beltway meme that the Clintons are vicious and unforgiving score-settlers who if given another shot at the White House will wreak havoc on their enemies.

I don’t know what the full book has to say, but this excerpt is rather pathetically inadequate to its stated theme. Turns out someone in the 2008 Clinton campaign was in charge of keeping up with and rating various Democratic pols in terms of the help or hindrance they offered HRC. This, combined with the Scary Clinton Legend (mostly, of course, about Hillary) of long knives and long memories, is supposed to show the unholy hell those who slighted (or worse yet, were “traitors” towards) HRC are about to endure if she glides to the Democratic nomination and then the White House.

Now if I were helping fold a presidential campaign for someone who (a) needed to write a lot of thank-you notes, and (b) might want to run for president again, you’d better believe I’d have a rated list of leading Democrats—for purposes of avoiding slights and identifying future persuasion targets, not plotting vengeance. Why are we to assume it was a get-even tabulation? Ah, because we know how Hillary is, right?

As it happens, I supported (quietly) Obama, not HRC, in 2008 (though I did urge Obama to choose her as his running-mate in a couple of reasonably high-profile columns). And yes, the competition got raw, as one might expect from a tight two-candidate race for the presidency. But the idea that HRC and her husband have been brooding ever since, full of wrath at their “betrayal” by Democrats who owed them, has been repeatedly refuted by their behavior, and lives on mostly by the sheer assertion of journalists.

Even if it’s true HRC staffers wanted to kick ass and take names, it’s just not the same thing as with principals. For many staffers, a presidential campaign is an ongoing existential crisis, with one path leading to unimaginable prestige and probably life-long success, and the other most likely to Palookaville. Bill and Hillary Clinton were in no danger of starving or being forgotten after 2008. I’m sure the wounds healed slowly, but you don’t get as far as they did in politics and government by sitting around sticking voodoo dolls in images of their “enemies,” or putting aside the goals that drew them into public life. I just don’t buy it.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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