Diary

With Friends Like These: Sidney Blumenthal

Perhaps no name in the Hillary Clinton orbit of friends best defines sleaze than Sidney Blumenthal.  Prior to his association with the Clinton clan, Blumenthal was a columnist for the Washington Post.  In 1988, while Bill was still governor of Arkansas, Blumenthal began to sing his praises.  In subsequent stints elsewhere, most notably The New Yorker, Blumenthal was an avid supporter of everything Clinton did and went on the attack against Clinton’s detractors.  He certainly crossed the line from neutral journalist to Clinton cheerleader.

The man crush on Bill paid off when Bill hired him as a senior adviser in 1997 after his reelection.  His main job was to do media research given his background and connections.  Primarily he trolled the media looking for stories favorable to Clinton then fed them to larger media outlets.  Under normal circumstances, these smaller items likely would go unnoticed.  It was Blumenthal’s task to get them into the light.  As an adviser from 1997 t0 2001, Blumenthal was in the White House during Bill’s most tumultuous years which culminated in an impeachment trial over the Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky affairs.

During this time, Blumenthal hooked up with another Clinton ally, Cody Shearer who would play prominently later.  Shearer was the brother-in-law of Strobe Talbott, a State Department official who had known Bill since their days at Oxford.  Between Blumenthal, Shearer and Terry Lenzner (another Clinton supporter), their task was to discredit the females who were accusing Bill Clinton of sexual improprieties.  During the impeachment proceedings and leading up to them, this group developed dirt on staffers for Independent Prosecutor Kenneth Starr.  They uncovered the fact that one staffer had an extramarital affair and another was a homosexual.  This information was leaked to the press, probably by Blumenthal given his past connections in the media.  They also uncovered the fact that then-Congressman Henry Hyde had an extramarital affair twenty years previous.  On the steps of the courthouse after his grand jury testimony, he likened Starr’s questioning as a fishing expedition reminiscent of the McCarthy years.  When the grand jury testimony was later made public as part of the impeachment proceedings, no such questions were asked, but Blumenthal had framed the discussion and got his 15 minutes of fame.

After leaving the White House, Blumenthal returned to “journalism” and book writing.  One book was generally panned by the critics as nothing but another attempt to save the Clintons from embarrassment.  In 2007, he became a senior adviser to Hillary’s presidential campaign.  Like his role in the White House, his job was to troll the media and Internet for negative stories on Hillary’s main opponent- Barack Obama.  The political world had changed since 2001 and the Internet took on added importance.  Blumenthal would basically search out the most absurd accusations against Obama and then feed them to the mainstream media so that eventually these stories would break through.

Some of the stories were actually true.  For example, the connections between Barack Obama and domestic terrorist Bill Ayers were first discovered by right wing bloggers largely arguing to a friendly choir.  However, once in the hands of Blumenthal they became a valuable weapon as he relentlessly fed the stories to mainstream outlets.  Eventually, these stories- given the apparent Blumenthal gravitas among some in the media- would dominate the campaign for a week or two, with some never going away.  I suppose we owe Blumenthal a certain level of gratitude, but unfortunately for him these negative (but true) stories- including the Obama-Rezko connection- were not enough to help Hillary win the nomination.

With Obama in the White House and it becoming apparent that Clinton would be his Secretary of State, Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod moved quickly.  Because of residual animosity from the primary campaign, they vetoed Clinton’s request to have Blumenthal join her staff at the State Department.  They also worried about a shadow political operation at the State Department.  At the behest of Bill Clinton, Blumenthal was placed on the payroll of the Clinton Foundation in 2009 with the task of doing media research, public relations and coordinating special events.  For this he received a stipend of $10,000 per month.

This is an important fact since the Obama administration had forbidden Hillary from hiring him at the State Department.  Along with the aforementioned Shearer, they developed a web of business connections that essentially acted as a shadow intelligence gathering apparatus for Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.  Shearer had earlier developed connections in Europe when Blumenthal was an adviser to Bill Clinton and had even misrepresented himself to Serbian war criminals as being a State Department official with direct connections to Bill Clinton.    Along with a few other people- including a former CIA operative- Blumenthal and Shearer had their eyes on Libya.  Realizing that Qaddafi was about to fall, they wanted a ringside seat at the new Libyan economy.  Prior to the debacle at Benghazi, Blumenthal had been sending unofficial intelligence from Libya which Clinton, blinded by loyalty and ignoring State Department protocol on vetting sources, passed along the e-mails to Steve Sullivan.  In short, it is quite possible that Blumenthal’s faulty intelligence would have resulted in a financial payoff and indirectly influenced American policy in Libya.  Today, we see the disastrous results.  It should be reiterated that Blumenthal was on the payroll of the Clinton Foundation at this time.

Leaving aside those silly talking points and the controversy surrounding them, American policy towards Libya was misguided.  Qaddafi posed no threat to Americans or American interests here or abroad.  By some accounts, he was cooperating in the war on terrorism and was actively rooting out terrorists in Libya out of self-preservation, if nothing else.  Regardless, he was indirectly helping the US fight terrorists.

Blumenthal’s son, Max, is also a card-carrying anti-Semite book writer.  Most of his work has been unanimously panned by the media on the Left and the Right.  One reviewer, Eric Alderman, even went so far as to describe one book as being required reading for the Hamas book-of-the-month club.  With the same zeal he defended Clinton, Sidney Blumenthal viciously attacked the writers of the reviews and defended his son.  Another long-time Clinton advocate and friend, Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, warned Hillary against her association with Blumenthal, if not for his actions then for the writings of his son.  Apparently those requests went unheeded.

When it was revealed that Sidney Blumenthal was feeding Clinton dubious intelligence from Libya leading up to and immediately after Benghazi, Clinton responded that she would continue to reach out to “old friends” outside “the bubble” of government.   Apparently Blumenthal’s loyalty to everything Clinton took precedence over the warnings of Dershowitz.

A Clinton victory in 2016 would not only be bad for the country, but it would also be a victory for pure, unadulterated sleaze in the form of Sidney Blumenthal.  Behind every Clinton political effort and every Clinton scandal, there is Sidney Blumenthal lurking in the shadows ready to do the dirty bidding while Bill and Hillary’s hands remain clean.  Yet, she counts this piece of scum as a good “old friend.”  That should say volumes about Hillary Clinton’s motivations.