Amy Chozick’s Chasing Hillary: A Scoop, a Missed Story, and Life in the 10%

By Lambert Strether of

Yes, I read New York Times reporter Amy Chozick’s Chasing Hillary so you don’t have to, while traveling back to Maine on the train and then the bus. Combining Chasing Hillary with Shattered gives a good parallax view of the omnishambles that was the Clinton campaign. I dog-eared rather a lot of pages for future attention, but I’m only going to call out what I see the high points here. So, this post is not a review, though I have to say that Chasing Hillary is a cracking good read, as they say: It’s a well structured and vivid portrayal of life on the campaign trail, especially life on the trail as experienced by a professional woman. (The press corps trailing Clinton was mostly women, interestingly.) From the Times review, :

“Chasing Hillary” is not a mea culpa, for Chozick or for The Times. Instead, it’s a behind-the-scenes director’s cut for readers who closely followed the 2016 political coverage. You may have read articles she wrote on the floor of the Orlando airport, in Las Vegas next to a “Sex and the City” slot machine, on the M42 crosstown bus. Political junkies [like me] will enjoy deciphering her various pseudonyms for Clinton staffers, history junkies [like me] will find a valuable first-person account of an extraordinary campaign, media junkies [like me] will devour the backstage antics of the traveling press corps. (Chozick only names names when she’s complimenting her colleagues; when she complains, she uses pseudonyms.)

From Entertainment Weekly, ““:

Chozick worked the “Hillary beat” for a decade, culminating in her following Clinton’s doomed 2016 campaign for the New York Times. She juxtaposes the job with her own development as a political reporter: her initial struggles upon moving to New York, her ascension at the Wall Street Journal, her decision to freeze her eggs and hit pause on her personal life after learning she’d be chasing Clinton around the country, again. In effect, she reveals how politics becomes personal.

As the slogan goes (and I’ll have something to say about “personal”). So the high points: One is a scoop that nobody seems to have noticed; one is a story that, oddly, was never written; and the third is Chozick’s character as a fully paid-up member of the 10%. (Here are two interviews with Chozick, from and .)

The Scoop: Obama and the Intelligence Community

From Chasing Hillary, page 218. I’m quoting most of it because of the rare opportunity to see Obama schmoozing:

“It didn’t take long before my trail friends gushed over my new radiant-cut diamond that still felt odd on my finger. Obama strolled down the aisle to the back of the plane where we were sitting. We rushed to ready our voice recorders and cameras assuming he’d do an impromptu press conference. Instead, Obama walked right up to me and said “Okay, lemme see the rock.” I stretched my hand out, and he entered Dad mode. “That’s great, so when are you quittin’?” [an odd assumption for a liberal, surely]. He asked how long we’d been dating. (“Okay, three years is a decent stint.”) He said he wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to plan the wedding. (“After the campaign? Okay, well you know these things take time. You’ve gotta pick your dress….”) He offered to have the Secret Service and the FBI do a “full background check” on Bobby. “Happy to. The FBI can get involved [on what basis?![1]].

Bobby and I got married a year later….

This strikes me as quite remarkable, although Chozick simply relates the incident and moves on; she doesn’t even say how she responded to Obama’s offer. First, isn’t it rather remarkable that Obama offered to put the intelligence community at the service of a New York Times reporter? Not for a leak, or a story, or embedding, but a personal service, a background check on a civilian third party, Chozick’s fiancé? Does this happen a lot? Second, if this is the level of detail that Obama is comfortable with in his interactions with the intelligence community, what other out-of-band back-channel favors has Obama asked them for? Eh?

The Missed Story: Alchohol

From Chasing Hillary, page 3, as Chozick describes the preparations for Clinton’s victory coverage:

I had a couple of features in the can, scheduled to run in the Times‘ commemorative women’s section the day after the election. Advertisers had already bought space in the historic special edition. I even had a story ready for the paper’s Sunday Styles section about how Hillary would be the booziest President since FDR.

Beset by stereotypes that she is the hall-monitor type, chuchgoing and dutiful, but not much fun at a keg party, in reality, Mrs. Clinton enjoys a cocktail–or three–more than more previous presidents.

As always with Clinton health stories, I fall back on what’s hiding in plain sight. Clinton takes blood thinning medication: warfarin (Coumadin). This is not mentioned in the book. Do alchohol and warfarin interact? They do. Healthline, “”

There are no specific recommendations against drinking alcohol while you take warfarin, but alcohol can affect how warfarin works. It slows down how quickly your body breaks down warfarin. That means drinking alcohol can lead to a buildup of the drug in your body….

Alcohol can also cause your body to make fewer platelets than normal. Platelets are the cells in your body that start the blood clotting process. Warfarin also interferes with the clotting process, so drinking alcohol while you take warfarin can increase your risk of major bleeding.

If you do decide to drink while taking warfarin, you should only drink occasionally. That means you should avoid drinking on a daily basis. You should also limit the amount you drink to one or two servings.

“One or two servings..” Definitely not “or three.” From WebMD, “”

Be careful about drinking if you’re taking a blood thinner, such as ().

Your breaks down alcohol and some . If it’s busy working on the alcohol instead of your blood thinner, the level of the drug in your will go up and raise your bleeding risk.

When you drink, you might get tipsy and lose your balance, too. You don’t want to fall and hurt yourself. That could be very dangerous, especially if you hit your head.

Having a drink or two every once in a while is probably fine when you’re on — just be sure to talk to your doctor. If you’re a regular drinker, you may need to get your medication levels checked more often.

Now, this is not to say that warfarin and alchohol together cause dizziness; it does say that , the danger of bleeding and blood clots increases. Yes, Clinton’s medical staff — also not mentioned in the book — could adjust her dosage, but given that coumadin is affected by stress, I would imagine her dosage would need to be constantly monitored and adjusted, especially if Clinton’s alcohol intake increased. I think all of this is a story, and I think it’s odd that neither Chozick nor any of the other (mostly woman) reporters on the Clinton beat see fit to cover it. (I’m reminded of the way that the press corps covered for FDR, never showing him in his wheelchair).

Life in the 10%

Finally, speaking to the idea that “the personal is political,” as Entertainment Weekly has it, I’d say it’s more like “the personal is the political class. in his Amazon Review:

Regarding the bias of reporters. There is no bias. They all supported Hillary. Their support was frank and out in the open. Not a single reporter mentioned in the book was not a Hillary partisan. Her defeat was a shell shock for all the NY Times people. At Hillary’s concession speech, the reporters were careful not to hug one another and cry in public, since that would look bad. Back at the office, Chozik sobbed, and they engaged in self-recrimination for somehow helping Trump to defeat her. What could they have done differently to help elect Hillary? Many concluded they had run too many stories about the e-mail server and such, but they had all assumed Hillary would win and at the time so they were more concerned about scoops and bylines. (In this they were no different from James Comey. Oh, those pollsters!) They blamed the Russians.

All as described in Thomas Frank’s Listen, Liberal!. How is it possible that the same author who could write this on page 140:

[Clinton] told aides that during these town halls, she could see voters posture change as she explained her practical solutions to help them “get ahead and stay ahead.” Shoulders would relax, arms would unfurl, scowls would soften. She had this.

What she didn’t realize at the time–and what I didn’t grasp either until Bernie beat her in New Hampshire by twenty-two points–was that [A]getting ahead doesn’t mean anything to people who have nowhere to go.

could write this on page 198:

“We shared something, an instant that I forgot about entirely until many months later when [B]the assholes of Wisconsin delivered the election to Trump.

(Those wouild be the assholes that the Clinton campaign wrote off, since the campaign decided not to visit Wisconsin and run up the numbers elsewhere.) I would suggest that the seeming contradiction between passages [A] and [B] can be resolved in this way: All that [A] (“nowhere to go”) requires is empathy, which is easy. However, translating the empathy in [A] to [B] (“assholes”) would call into question Chozick’s right, and the right of her class, to rule (“delivered the election to Trump”). That is not easy, but hard.

Conclusion

Chasing Hillary is well worth a read, especially if you’re a political, history, and/or media junkie, as I am. However, what Chozick does not say — or cannot feel — is often more revealing than what she does descibe, entertaining and awful though that is.

NOTES

[1] “allows an individual to obtain a certificate of their criminal history. This is common for federal jobs, appointments, and for adoption.” So Chozick could file the form herself, but not on behalf of her fiancé. Obama also promises to involve the Secret Service. What I take away from Chozick’s passage is that Obama offered to run the same sort of check on Chozick’s fiancé that the Federal Government would run on administration hire, or somebody who needed a national security clearance. How can he do this for a random private individual?

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

101 comments

  1. cripes

    Since the level of corruption Obama engaged in did not extend to personal peccadilloes involving hookers, drugs and affairs, he gets a pass. He merely operated his presidency as a private fiefdom for the 10% in service to the 1%.

    Background check on boyfriends? No problem!

    Wink, Nod.

    What an arrogant jerk.

    1. sgt_doom

      First, isn’t it rather remarkable that Obama offered to put the intelligence community at the service of a New York Times reporter?

      No, since Obama signed legislation legalizing the US government to propagandize the citizenry.

      And please let us not forget the NSA personnel’s LOVINT!

      Outstanding book review/article, Mr. Lambert!

  2. WobblyTelomeres

    Sheesh. Obama’s offer to have the secret service check out Bobby sounds very much like a joke rather than a “scoop”.

    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      Exactly. One does not make this kind of offer seriously in front of a pack of journalists on Air Force 1.

      Also, that background check was a done deal by the time Obama joked about it. It is guaranteed that everyone on that plane is vetted, and their closest kin as well. Our huge, hugely expensive intelligence services track far less consequential people all the time. The access journalists on that flying bomb have no privacy to speak of. Neither do their husbands.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > in front of a pack of journalists

        Again, if you read the book, it’s striking. I see it as a private, one-on-one exchange (“Obama walked right up to me and said ‘Okay, lemme see the rock.'”) Again, Chozick is a reporter, and almost obsessive about framing and context. If she had been in the midst of an admiring crowd, or surrounded by breathless reporters with their ears flapping, she would have said so. That’s certainly her consistent practice elsewhere.

        1. Synoia

          First, isn’t it rather remarkable that Obama offered to put the intelligence community at the service of a New York Times reporter?

          Perhaps he’s one of them. Family connections from grandfather, mother and himself?

        2. Michael Fiorillo

          By speaking to a reporter, Obama is ultimately speaking to a crowd, even if the reporter is alone. Or, at a minimum, He’s establishing a “personal” and presumably more positive context for further reporting on Him.

          Really, with all the valid reasons for criticizing Obama – I’m a public school teacher, so I probably have more direct and specific reasons to loathe him than most, and do – you’re going to focus on this complete nullity?

          You’ve got me a little worried now…

          1. rps

            By speaking to a reporter, Obama is ultimately speaking to a crowd, even if the reporter is alone

            By speaking to an independent reporter, Obama is ultimately speaking to a crowd even if the independent reporter is alone. Fixed it for ya.

            Amy Chozick was an embedded journalist and not an independent reporter. In fact, I’d consider the exchange between Chozick and Obama as revealing her manipulability with the look at me awe gee gushing “I’m special” moment, and not a President talking to an independent reporter interaction. Rather, a president tampering with a very gullible woman who’s job as a reporter was biased in favor of Obama and Hillary rather than unbiased independent reporting.

            Joe Hammer says, “Their support was frank and out in the open. Not a single reporter mentioned in the book was not a Hillary partisan. Her defeat was a shell shock for all the NY Times people…. Back at the office, Chozi[c]k sobbed, and they engaged in self-recrimination for somehow helping Trump to defeat her

            1. Michael Fiorillo

              You didn’t fix anything, you just repeated yourself, since the readers of this site know that any reporter on Air Force One is by definition embedded, and not independent.

              Speaking to a Times reporter ultimately makes for speaking to a larger crowd, which is precisely why Obama did what he did.

              He knew that, even if the exchange was never published, it would lead to his mark to think of him as concerned and protective, and probably shade the coverage in his favor down the line.

        3. sgt_doom

          The thing about HRC:

          She bragged about being a member of the one percent.

          She gave speeches before Goldman Sachs and Wall Street, promising to screw the American worker.

          She was the recipient of multiple fundraisers at Martha’s Vineyard hosted by Lady de Rothschild.

          You just cannot make this stuff up . . .

          (Whether the Wall Street minion is named Hillary or Donald is besides the point to the majority of the American electorate . . . who did not bother to vote!)

    2. brook trout

      Yes, it would seem a little irony is at work here. This seems to be a light-hearted exchange (just the sort of thing a pol is often good at), not a trip down Nixon Alley. Erleichda.

        1. nervos belli

          No not kidding. No different from kissing the stinky-poo baby and shaking the unclean hands.
          Just tailored to the specific person and circumstance here.

          So I agree with the others: smalltalk that sounds good, tries to build a personal relationship but ultimately totally meaningless fluff in every imaginable way.

    3. allan

      Yes. Since O’s sense of humor extended to , shredding the 6th Amendment,
      surely it could also include shredding the 4th.

    4. lambert strether

      Of course I considered that possibility. But if you read the whole book, you’ll see that Chozick relentlessly reacts to and contextualizes everything; she even does within that passage (“Dad mode”). She plays this one straight, leading me to believe it’s straight reporting and that Obama meant what he said. It would have been very easy for her to signal otherwise, and she’s a stylist, not sloppy in her writing at all.

      1. Yves Smith

        I am much more predisposed to Lambert’s take. You don’t joke about having the FBI investigate a fiance. If anyone other than the articulate, adept-seeming Obama did it, the thuggishness would be obvious.

        It’s an unnecessary reminder of the vast power he wields, and worse, carries the suggestion that maybe her fiance is a bad guy, that ole paternal figure Obama could quickly find out more about her honey than she knows herself. Ick ick ick.

        And what if she called his bluff and had cheekily said there, or called the WH press secretary later, and said he’d made the offer in front of tons of witnesses? You assume he’d back out, but this is the guy who bragged that he was really good at killing people.

        1. John D.

          “You don’t joke about having the FBI investigate a fiance. If anyone other than the articulate, adept-seeming Obama did it, the thuggishness would be obvious.”

          Well, yes. And that would be the case even if Obama did mean it as a joke. Can you imagine the reaction of our “liberal” media if Trump said something like this?

      2. Donald

        I haven’t read the book— thanks for doing it for us. But since he told a tasteless joke about having the power to drone strike people the most natural assumption to make is that he tends to joke about his unchecked monarchical powers. Obama did enough bad things in real life that we don’t have to speculate about hypothetical wrongdoing based on an exchange like this one.

        1. pretzelattack

          why do you assume that was a joke? there was nothing hypothetical about the wrong he was doing there. maybe he was admiring his shrewd judgement in picking which targets to kill–his narcissism seems to rival trump’s and clinton’s, it’s just better hidden.

          1. Donald

            I assume it was a joke because it sounds like one and it is a bit ridiculous to assume it wasn’t without further evidence.

    5. Steven

      The outrage over it here reminds me of how people in Chozick’s world reacted to Trump asking Russia to release Hillary’s missing emails. Everyone understood it to be a joke except for those who chose to interpret everything he said in the worst possible light.

      1. pretzelattack

        did chozick interpret it that way? who is “everyone”–it’s not clear to me if it was a private conversation or had an audience.

    6. joseph morical

      hard to take your criticisms seriously when you mistake a joke for an abuse of power

    7. IguanaBowtie

      Gotta agree, and though I’m no Obama booster, this one sounds like lame dad humor. Somewhat inappropriate perhaps, but just in the well established sense that our elites don’t take things like (other people’s) privacy very setiously.

    8. Fool

      It is a joke, but it’s a significant interaction nonetheless that the President is winning over the Washington reporter of the Paper of Record by flirting with her; the implication is his power (least of all over her). It’s not unwelcomed, though. The “he entered Dad mode” line is coy, chozick putting her crush on display (but I’m not sure she realizes that).

      The courtier model of the press in a nutshell.

    9. kernel

      I agree with Wobbly here – Obama’s “offer” to have Chozick’s fiancé vetted is exactly the kind of joke I’d expect from him. His sense of humor is high, wry, and particularly dry. And didn’t he “threaten” his daughter’s Prom Date by reminding the kid that he – Obama, Commander in Chief – could order Hellfire drone strikes? Same joke, isn’t it?

      1. Dirk77

        Yes. Without knowing Obama personally, but given your reasons and my own life experience, I’m almost 100% sure that was intended as a joke.

    10. Darius

      I took it as a lame joke. Liberal 10 percenters just eat up Obama. His humor always fell flat with me because of the underlying arrogance.

      I’m reminded of a delightfully terrifying story in which LBJ was visiting a Marine base. When the visit was over, Johnson started walking towards a helicopter. A Marine said to him, “Mr. President. That’s your helicopter over there.”

      Johnson threw his arm around the Marine’s shoulder and said, “Son, they’re all my helicopters!”

  3. Kokuanani

    My local library just informed me that I’ve made it to the top of the “wait list” and can come in & pick up my copy of Chasing Hillary tomorrow. [I certainly wouldn’t pay real money for the thing.]

    Thanks for the review.

    BTW – does anyone know what the status of the Clinton Foundation is now?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      If he did, it’s certainly a very odd one (though not as odd as Bush looking everywhere for the WMDs, even under his desk).

      “If he cheats, just say the word and I’ll take him out with a drone strike.” Funny?

      1. ambrit

        Bill Clinton did have a WMD under his desk. Just ask some of his interns.
        Really though, just how do we separate sexuality from power relations in this fallen world we inhabit? Can it be done at all?

        1. zer0

          Make the power less powerful and remind them of their mortality. I think an old time revolution is already in the works.

          1. ambrit

            That presupposes an egalitarian ethos. I see the opposite in action; masters and slaves. Something like a De Sade book, where everything is sexualized and perverted simultaneously.
            I say ‘fallen’ in almost a Biblical sense. The Unoriginal Sin.

  4. ambrit

    The fish rots from the head down.
    Talk about 10% ‘exceptionalism!’ “Freeze her eggs and put her life on hold.” My oh my, talk about privilege. Who do they think they are, Counselor Troi from the Future? When millions are foregoing basic medical procedures due to lack of resources, these twits can literally play Masters of the Universe.
    I think I shall learn to knit so I can fulfill a traditional role related to Guillotines and Aristocrats.

    1. polecat

      Sounds like she wanted them over easy, and got them scrambled instead ..
      … the cliches, I mean …

    2. Carolinian

      Twit seems to be the right word. Robert Altman and Gary Trudeau did a great cable miniseries on the campaign bus called Tanner ’88. The hard bitten cynics of that era seem to have transformed into gooey eyed true (Hillary) believers of today’s press corpse. Just shoot us.

      Luckily Hillary has been consigned to the nightmare past so we can all stop thinking about her (oh wait).

    3. Arizona Slim

      Freezing her eggs. Yeesh.

      Out here in the real world, pregnancies happen at the best and worst possible moments. And then there are people who just can’t have kids.

      1. Petter

        Even given her fully paid up member of the 10%, I find it hard to criticize Chozick’s making the choice to freeze her eggs given that she had the financial means to do so. I take it as a given that women can have careers so exciting, fun, fulfilling, self actualizing, fill in the blank – that they decide to put off motherhood. Also some careers are incredibly demanding, competitive and for many women choosing to have a child and taking maternal leave (if that’s even a choice) is a risk they don’t want to take.
        The joys of being a woman. Fight for parental leave and family friendly policies, achieve it and then here’s the result (I have problems with some of the analysis in the linked article but never mind):

        Scandinavian Women Do Not Have It All
        Even in Denmark and Sweden’s family-friendly utopia, children are career killers for women.

  5. Isotope_C14

    “What she didn’t realize at the time–and what I didn’t grasp either until Bernie beat her in New Hampshire by twenty-two points–was that [A]getting ahead doesn’t mean anything to people who have nowhere to go.

    could write this on page 198:

    “We shared something, an instant that I forgot about entirely until many months later when [B]the assholes of Wisconsin delivered the election to Trump.”

    Chris Hedges calls it correctly:

    “– and the media has evolved into a class of courtiers. The Democrats, like the Republicans, are mostly courtiers.”

    The echo chamber corrupts people – they don’t even know it is happening. They begin slowly to identify with the “tribe” of rulers and become part of the problem. After a few bottles of Y’quem, and a couple 100k, they don’t want to challenge the establishment, they want to become a part of it, though it may be very subliminal, it corrupts most people.

    I think all rich people are essentially horrible, so I doubt it would have much effect on me. I’ve had some fancy wine, and I know the greatest thing in the world is a star-trek future, and none of those rich people want that.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      “What she didn’t realize at the time–and what I didn’t grasp either until Bernie beat her in New Hampshire by twenty-two points–was that [A]getting ahead doesn’t mean anything to people who have nowhere to go.

      I would love for people who think like this to live in a dog eat dog world for one day.. just to truly see how screwed they would be.. because at the end of the day despite all of their education most of them can’t do anything of value.

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      What is key is their ambition. Succeeding in this environment – getting to the top – requires ignoring things in plain sight and, as needed, doing your part to divert attention to that fact or actively cover it up. I think ambitious people tend to have more malleable principles anyway but a) if you are ambitious you will notice soon enough the work you do that “succeeds” and the work that doesn’t, and you will focus soon enough on the former and not the latter; and b) after doing a) for a period of time, continuing in the same way becomes just “the way things are done” (i.e. “norms”) and for most ambitious types I think becomes more of an unthinking reflex than an active effort to deceive. That’s how they can be all of very smart, all the same, and completely surprised by their fellow voters (and bitter).

      The passage about Wisconsin got me thinking again about why she didn’t campaign here in the general. The answer can’t be exclusively that she thought she had the state in the bag because, as noted, she did most of her campaigning in states she actually did have in the bag. I think the reason she didn’t come is because she really doesn’t like the people here. When her data people told her she didn’t have to come here, she was relieved. It wasn’t laziness or bad data – OK, it was both but only given the fact that she didn’t want to come here in the first place.

      Now my next conclusion would be that she doesn’t like the people here because we are half-Trump and at least 25% Bernie, so she would have gotten it from both sides. She could campaign hard in PA because there were lots of places in PA where she was liked. But there was really nowhere in WI where she was liked (the Milwaukee suburbs are much more conservative than the Philly suburbs; Madison is not Harrisburg). Being a smart person, she probably figured that out and so when the data people told her she didn’t have to come to win the state she was mighty relieved.

      The crazy thing about that is that she grew up in suburban Chicago, so you’d think she could connect to (at least some of) the people here. But she really couldn’t.

      1. Synoia

        We shared something, an instant that I forgot about entirely until many months later when [B]the assholes of Wisconsin delivered the election to Trump.

        No doubt messing up her future food coupons and career path.

      2. Arizona Slim

        My mother lives in eastern PA. During my late 2016 visit, I was amazed at the number of Trump campaign signs that were still on display. The Hillary signs? Gone.

  6. JBird

    Who do they think they are, Counselor Troi from the Future?

    Why Defarge, I thought you already knew that!

    ;-)

    1. ambrit

      So why was the Aristo the hidden ‘hero’ of Dickens’ book?
      May I suggest a new meme for consideration: Occams’ Guillotine?

        1. ambrit

          Oh, I dunno. The sub-texts in the Cinderella story are many and deep. For instance, why does ‘C’ not have a chance for ‘romance’ when she is toiling, but enters the Big Leagues when she morphs into a 10%er? To do the chameleon trick, ‘C’ also needs ‘magical’ assistance. So, she can’t make it on her own? The whole Cinderella story is a paean to luck and wealth. No “real” girls need apply.
          Enough with the ur-rant.

  7. clarky90

    “…does not say — or cannot feel…”

    I believe what my neighbors say. Everyday, in tens of encounters, important to trivial. Also, I assume that they are not leaving out any important information. (Acts or Omissions)

    Most people reciprocate. They believe me.

    Therefore, Auschwitz was utterly terrifying because of the lying. “You and your family are being evacuated/resettled to the East.” (Not sent to a Slaughter House).

    When the “evacuees” arrived, they were greeted by “Arbeit macht frei” (work sets you free). It didn’t.

    When I was a child, it was Dracula or the Coral Snake or the Deaths Cap Amanita that unsettled me. All three, were deadly but beautiful deceivers.

    Being betrayed by articulate lies (hope and change that we can believe in) is my definition of Hell and despair.

  8. Tom Stone

    There are safer blood thinners than Coumadin, however blood thinners have inherent risks.
    When I first got my prescription the pharmacist was explicit about the effects of alcohol on the effectiveness of the blood thinner and strongly advised me not to consume any alcohol, and if I must drink, no more than a glass of wine with a meal.
    No booze for me, the risks outweigh the reward significantly.
    HRC’s reputation as a heavy drinker is not the reason I did not vote for her, but her lack of good judgement is.

    1. bruce wilder

      She was (and presumably still is) taking Armour Thyroid, a natural alternative to the more commonly prescribed Synthroid. Armour Thyroid is basically desiccated thyroid gland taken from slaughtered pigs and taking it serves to replace hormones the thyroid is not producing in sufficient quantity.

      It is commonly believed that hypothyroidism significantly reduces a person’s tolerance for alcohol and alcohol consumption can aggravate hypothyroidism.

      Clinton’s hypothyroid condition was of long-standing, but it still seems possible that Clinton’s reduced tolerance for alcohol might lead observers to misattribute certain behaviors to increased alcohol consumption. Was Chozick in a position to observe Clinton directly at cocktail hour, or did she just pick up a consensus from among some close Clinton associates, who may have observed a low tolerance?

      Treated hypothyroidism — and Clinton’s hypothyroidism had been treated in a long-standing program of medication and monitoring — should not have been a concern. But, given subliminal associations — “hormones”, woman’s disease — and the cognitive deficiencies and moodiness that are symptoms of untreated hypothyroidism, I would have thought the Clinton camp would have been wary of anything related to thyroid disease in a way that they would not have been about blood thinners.

        1. Yves Smith

          I’ve read this, MDs cited both that she was taking Coumadin and Armour as proof she wasn’t getting great care.

          The argument for Armour is that you get T-1 and T-2 hormones along with T-4, which is what levothyroxine (Synthroid) is (your body makes T-3 from T-4, but some MDs also like to supplement T-3 directly, this seems to go in and out of fashion).

          Alternative med types also believe you can get off Armour but that you become dependent on levothyroxine. No idea if this is BS or not… most people who are on thyroid aren’t in a position to get off it evah (the exception might be if someone had transient low thyroid and was put on it by mistake..but even then, not sure if the Armour boosters have this one right).

          The big negative of Armour is that it isn’t standardized, so different batches can and probably do vary in potency.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > different batches can and probably do vary in potency.

            Oh, yikes, now she really needs to be monitored continously. Coumadin, alcohol, Armour + random stressors all interacting. Yeesh.

          2. Greg Colvin

            Armour contains T4 and T3 in carefully standardized amounts–it’s a regulated prescription medicine. There are lots of reasons why a doctor might choose one or another form of thyroid medicine for a particular patient, including how well T4 is absorbed from the gut and and how well T3 is synthesized from T4. Synthetic T3 works for me.

        2. bruce wilder

          Her use of Armour Thyroid was referenced in the letter released by her doctor, the internist Lisa Bardack, in 2015 as well as the updated letter released after the episode at the 9/11 memorial in 2016.

          , among others, both reported the doctor’s updated letter in 2016 and printed it.

          The doctor’s updated letter from 2016 specifically references “a low T3 level” as the form of her hypothyroidism. What Yves Smith posted corresponds with my imperfect understanding of Armour Thyroid vs Synthoid.

        3. Robert McGregor

          I love “Forensic Medicine.” Very believable that Hillary was drinking too much alcohol for all the blood thinner she was taking. Hence the frequent “pass-outs.” That’s actually one of the more innocuous possible explanations. Now I would like to get some “Forensic Psychiatric” info on what the hell happened to Anthony Bourdain. He seemed like the last person who would commit suicide. It would really be idiotic if he was another case of “Suicide by Antidepressant.”

  9. edmondo

    Mrs. Clinton enjoys a cocktail–or three–more than more previous presidents.

    Maybe that explains her “dehydration” at the 9/11 Memorial where they had to throw her in a van like a sack of potatoes. And the “Deplorables” comment. And the fact she was never on the campaign trail. And maybe we all dodged a bullet when the election “was delivered” to Trump. Please note- Hillary didn’t lose, Trump won.

    1. Tom Denman

      Now I have this image in my mind of HRC doing “Jello Shots” with Madeleine Albright and Dubya.

  10. The Rev Kev

    A word about that “the press corps covered for FDR, never showing him in his wheelchair”. That was probably more about decency and not undermining the office of the President during very dark times that. Covering for a Presidential booze-hound reeks more of covering for one of their own here. And it seems plain that Hillary was considered one of their own here.
    That Obama anecdote rings true but not for what you might think. My read is that White House had a direct plant in the press contingent that would let them know what was going on and what stories to head off. As part of this was gossip, the story of the engagement ring was mentioned and probably an aide thought that would be a good PR exercise for Obama to pile on a five minute charm session. It’s all about the optics with Obama to obscure what he was actually doing.

    1. JBird

      People are now more accepting of others being “different.” A handicap back then was sometimes considered shameful, or something to be pitied. Today, whatever the dislike of a person’s disability there is the respect gained by someone overcoming it.

      FDR went to extremes to present himself as being abled. It probably was required for him to get the Presidency.

      1. hidflect

        I read FDR exercised his upper body relentlessly so he could lift himself to his feet with ease making it look like he was just getting up like a normal person. FDR didn’t self-inflict his condition.

        Hillary slopping out the whiskey into a freshly drained tumbler is an altogether more disturbing image. I like to believe she drank because no one liked her personally but that’s just the romantic in me.

    2. Amfortas the Hippie

      more akin to covering for JFK’s extracurriculars.
      more generally, when I read stuff like this….the inside scoop of a band bus for the rich and powerful and their courtiers(love it)…I’m reminded of Roman History, or some Gore Vidal treatment thereof.
      “Meritocracy”, lol.

  11. Andrew Watts

    Books like these are an invaluable study into how the privileged classes approaches politics. An interesting passage from the Entertainment Weekly is an important example of this.

    Their relationship is richly complex, if mostly unspoken: a fascinating portrait of two brilliant, wounded women unknowingly headed for a collision course. The tension between them escalates in a way that satisfyingly, dispiritingly mirrors the journey the country took through a senseless election season.

    There wasn’t any substantial interactions that took place between Hillary and Chozick by all accounts. Chozick didn’t have any kind of relationship with Hillary at all except in her own mind. This is a great example of how our politics are devolving in a way that trivializes the political process to the extent that the privileged classes seek nothing more than personal gratification from it. It actually makes sense why we’re seeing an increasingly number of millionaires and billionaires enter the political arena. They aren’t entering into electoral politics because the political system isn’t responsive to their interests, or out of a sense of noblesse oblige, but from a compelling individual desire for self-validation.

    Those of us on the political fringe may be profoundly underestimating how dysfunctional our political system is. In a sense this makes it easier to organize and appeal to the economic self-interest of the electorate who’ve been sidelined and forgotten in the midst of this transformation. But I think we’re going to lose something important from this approach at the same time. History is littered with countries and empires that choose to tear themselves apart in the midst of their decline. The logical choice would suggest that it’d be a better idea to forge a new consensus or political understanding that would buy the necessary time and space to reinvigorate the system as a whole yet that seldom happens.

    …and whenever I read books like this, or watch Congress at work on C-SPAN, I feel a little more pessimistic about the future.

  12. VietnamVet

    This is 21st century court politics within the top 10%. It is self-sustaining circle of oligarchs, professionals and staff networking to gain status and pay. To do it they have to ignore reality. Rural America is not paid enough to afford dental care. A missing front tooth assures that you won’t get that job that pays a living wage. This is highly unstable. The fracturing Atlantic Alliance must be blamed on a childish Donald Trump or Russia rather than acknowledge that the unrest is the inevitable consequence of increasing inequality.

  13. JerryDenim

    “getting ahead doesn’t mean anything to people who have nowhere to go”

    Very telling in deed. The cardinal sin of our striving, “meritocratic” ten-percenters: Not wanting to make a ton of money and move from your home town to an urban coastal money center to join the hoarder rat-race. What’s wrong with people who want to do a simple, honorable job well, stay close to family and friends, and just be modest, but yet comfortable and secure? Surely Chozick doesn’t really believe every single American should be striving to gain admittance to an Ivy with the aim of moving to Manhattan and working for McKinsey one day?

    Choznick’s biases and worldview are on full display and it’s not pretty. Trump’s success as a candidate makes so much more sense every day. Our elites are such assholes, how could the plebs not resist launching a dumpster fire with an outstretched middle finger towards Washington?

    1. jrs

      I would interpret getting ahead to be widely applicable in appeal if not in availability. Getting ahead may merely mean getting ahead of poverty in many cases (how I would interpret it) and who wouldn’t wish for practical solutions to that. Not saying Hillary had a ton. I wouldn’t even interpret getting ahead as necessarily rising up the corporate ladder or whatever just getting ahead of poverty.

    2. John Wright

      I’ve heard it as “With Clinton, we know we are screwed, with Trump, we might not be.”

    3. flora

      “What’s wrong with people who want to do a simple, honorable job well, stay close to family and friends, and just be modest, but yet comfortable and secure? ”

      Nothing is wrong and everything is right about doing a job honorably and well; it’s what keeps the wheels from falling off and keeps the country functioning, imo.

      As a Kansan writes:

      “First and foremost, it has been my great privilege to personally interact with some remarkably fine people. Many of them have been public figures, and those people have reinforced in me the belief that the crudeness, vitriol and visceral animosity expressed by so many of the sensation-mongering, babble-first and feel no remorse faces and voices that dominate our public sphere are of no importance. Pay attention to the people who go about their work with seriousness, good will and knowledge. Ignore the loudmouths, me-firsters, fear-thy neighbor and us-against-them nitwits who are always available to distract and incite.”

      Pay attention to the people who go about their work with seriousness, good will and knowledge.

      Yes, indeed. They out number the idiots; the idiots just seem to get more press.

  14. Kim Kaufman

    One thing I wonder and haven’t heard a story about… what was Hillary’s reaction at the moment she realized she was not going to be President? Was she stunned silent? Angry? Has anyone reported about this in any of these books?

    The problem with the NY Times was not necessarily the way they covered Hillary. but about the way they covered Trump, giving him a pass on so much. And, of course, the reporting on Bernie was despicable.

    1. Arizona Slim

      According to Roger Stone’s book, The Making of the President 2016, Hillary was in full meltdown on election night. Screaming, crying, and smashing furniture.

      Say what you will about Roger Stone, but I suspect that he’s telling the truth. Because Hillary was nowhere near the Javits Center on election night.

      1. Berto

        “…Roger Stone, but I suspect that he’s telling the truth”

        I like the way you think.
        I’m getting up there in years, so I’m looking to unload some of my assets at discounted prices, since i did so well in the stock market. If you have any interest in buying the Brooklyn Bridge, private IM me.

      2. John D.

        I’d wondered why we’ve heard so little about HRC’s immediate response to getting her ass kicked on Election Night. Given her disappearing act on the evening in question, Stone’s report makes sense. Are there any links to this section of Stone’s book online? (Or any further reactions to it?) I’d love to read them.

        You know, I thought it was pretty devoid of class the way Clinton just up and vanished as it became clear which way the tide had turned, never mind the moral and emotional crisis her voters were going through and that they could have used some actual support from her to help them through a very dark point. But that would have required honest-to-goodness leadership, now, wouldn’t it? And as ever, it was all about her.

        Hillary reacting to this setback with a screaming temper tantrum pretty much displays all by itself her not being fit to hold public office, wouldn’t y’all say?

  15. DonCoyote

    [Devil’s advocate hat on]
    Being an alcoholic is now considered a disease too (no idea if HRC is one). In any case, 3+ drinks can be a safer way to fall asleep than most sleeping pills, and if she was/is doing consistently, her tolerance is probably higher. So yes, a problem, but not insurmountable for a president. Unlike pregnancy, you can be a little bit drunk.

    As for the the NYT, here is :

    “The problem, in part, is the Clintons’ unique management style. Sitting at a New York coffee shop one afternoon, a person close to the Clintons…pulled out a felt-tip pen and drew a triangle and a circle on a white cocktail napkin. The triangle, this person said, represented Obama’s team, with the president on the top and everyone else clearly in their hierarchical place. The circle represented the Clintons, with everyone in a vortex angling for the innermost rings. Over the years, this amorphous setup has led to a fair amount of resentment and infighting.”

    So not 100% cheerleading. Then there was this reporting from flyover country (not from Chozick), two weeks after the election

    “All four barbers had voted for Mr. Obama. But only two could muster the enthusiasm to vote this time. And even then, it was a sort of protest. One wrote in Mrs. Clinton’s Democratic opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The other wrote in himself.”

    “I’m so numb,” said Jahn Toney, 45, who had written in Mr. Sanders. He said no president in his lifetime had done anything to improve the lives of black people, including Mr. Obama, whom he voted for twice. “It’s like I should have known this would happen. We’re worse off than before.”

    A little more nuanced than “assholes in Wisconsin”.

    Yes, the NYT, and many if not most of its reporters has written a tremendous amount of Russia hysteria and general neoliberal bullshit apologism. But they do get it right every so often.

    [Devil’s advocate hat off]

    1. Arizona Slim

      Further quoting from the NYT article about Milwaukee:

      At Upper Cutz, a bustling barbershop in a green-trimmed wooden house, talk of politics inevitably comes back to one man: Barack Obama. Mr. Obama’s elections infused many here with a feeling of connection to national politics they had never before experienced. But their lives have not gotten appreciably better, and sourness has set in.

      “We went to the beach,” said Maanaan Sabir, 38, owner of the Juice Kitchen, a brightly painted shop a few blocks down West North Avenue, using a metaphor to describe the emotion after Mr. Obama’s election. “And then eight years happened.”

  16. John Beech

    Oh please, this take on the President offering the services of the FBI and Secret Service to background check the fiance is an obvious joke that even this Trump voter appreciated. Lighten up! Otherwise, good article.

  17. Pat

    Despite the focus on Clinton’s health, another question about the alcohol drug interaction thing might be how aware of Clinton’s drug regime was Chozick and whether the thought even occurred to her consider side effects and/or the possible problems of any of Clinton’s life style with those drugs, alcohol just being one. Your descriptions indicate a certain level of self absorption on the author’s part – and not just the appalling distress at maybe helping Trump. Without personal experience raising the red flag would she think to even check the possibility? Could be a case of Ignorance driven dereliction of duty rather than hand waving of something she knew to be a troubling problem.

    As for Obama’s offer or joke, I’ve both been related to and worked with a fair number of law enforcement types. More than one has offered to run someone for me. Mind you none have ever offered to drone anyone who ‘done me wrong’. Sadly I think it is not considered an abusive illegal search or invasion of privacy for many with access to the ability to research people more than a google search.

  18. johnnygl

    Shall we give obama a pass for the tackiness of oogling the woman’s engagement ring? I don’t know too many heterosexual guys who show interest in that. I associate it with judging if the guy has the means and the will to spend enough money on the woman…vain stuff. Virtue signaling, of a sort…

    1. Duke of Prunes

      As a heterosexual dad whose kids are beginning to reach “marrying age”, Obama very definitely went into “Dad mode”. We check out the engagement ring not to virtue signal or to check their wealth, but rather it’s just an easy topic that most woman are very excited to talk about it. It’s not that much different from asking about sporting or academic achievements you knew they won when they were younger.

  19. Recovering Attorney

    I’m a longtime reader of Cfdtrade, but this is my first-ever comment. I’ve never felt so strongly compelled to join the conversation, and my comment herein is with regard to Obama’s quip regarding the FBI/background check.

    Honestly, I’m gobsmacked at the scuttlebutt about this. They say to never make a joke in a deposition, as on paper it won’t come out the same way. And they’re right. But honestly: the context here is definitive. It was a joke. Period. Reasonable people can disagree, but to me it’s not even a close call. Especially since the author delineates beforehand “Dad mode.”

    1. Duke of Prunes

      I agree. In my “professional world”, I’m offered all kinds of favors which I know are never meant to be accepted. “Look me up, I can get you good seats for the game, or backstage or whatever”, “let’s meet for drinks”, etc. Sometimes, it’s a “humble brag” (hey, look at me, and power I have), other times, it’s meant to influence you toward their way of thinking (without actually having to do anything about it because those of us skilled at the game understand it’s an empty offer). I’d say in this case, it’s probably a bit of both.

      If you want to see some awkward backpedaling, take someone up on one of these offers…

    1. Arizona Slim

      ISTR reading that President Ford was quite the drinker until he and Betty decided to quit.

      As for presidents since the mid-1970s, I can’t say that we’ve had a bunch of boozers in the White House.

      Druggies? Hard to tell, but there were rumors that Jimmy Carter’s kids toked up in the White House.

      1. pretzelattack

        there were so many lies spread about carter, hard to tell. but if they did, more power to them.

  20. Watt4Bob

    Nobody has mentioned the possibility that Obama was offering Chozick’s husband a job?

    Security screening being a requirement for employment among the folks at the top of the heap, his offer could be construed as something of value, a leg-up so to speak.

  21. Jeremy Grimm

    The story about Obama offering the services of the FBI immediately reminded me of two links I ran across in the bibliography of a strange academic paper I just read. I wonder at what — to me — seems a strange relationship between the Democratic Party and the ponderous Security Machine which has grown within our government. The first link “All watched over by machines – a review of Yasha Levine’s book “Surveillance Valley” [https://librarianshipwreck.wordpress.com/2018/06/08/all-watched-over-by-machines-a-review-of-yasha-levines-surveillance-valley/]. Grabbing a quote from that book review which I believe sketchs its content:
    “After all, many people have their hopes invested in the belief that these companies [identified elsewhere in the review: “a handful of giant tech companies (Amazon, Facebook, Apple, eBay, Google)”] are building a better brighter future, and they are naturally taken aback when they are forced to reckon with stories that reveal how these companies are building the types of high-tech dystopias that science fiction has been warning us about for decades. And in this space there are some who seem eager to allow a new myth to take root: one in which the unsettling connections between big tech firms and the military industrial complex is something new. But as Yasha Levine’s important new book, Surveillance Valley, deftly demonstrates the history of the big tech firms, complete with its panoptic overtones, is thoroughly interwoven with the history of the repressive state apparatus.”

    The second link Grimm, R. [no relation] (2017) ‘Angry About the DNC Scandal? Thank Obama’, The Intercept. November 4: [https://theintercept.com/2017/11/03/dnc-donna-brazile-hillary-clinton-barack-obama/] — a couple quotes strung together to sketch its content:
    “By August 2015, the DNC was becoming unable to make payroll and approaching the equivalent of bankruptcy, according to a former senior party official, who requested anonymity. …” — “And so the DNC, to save itself, sold everything to the only bidder. The Clinton campaign bailed out the DNC and, in exchange, effectively took it over, according to Donna Brazile, who served as the organization’s acting chairperson from July 2016 to February 2017.”

    I apologize if these sources have already been discussed or dismissed. I try — not always with success — to avoid the Hillery/Trump/DNC/Russians discussions. But let me string together a few of these tenuous threads. As I recall the giant tech companies were generous to Obama and the Clinton Foundation. The Security Machine seemed to play a strange and murky role in the recent Presidential election and post election blowing of smoke. A recent link at the at the World Socialist Website pointed to the large number of former MIC and Spook types running for office — often as Democrats. All these little ties and connections grow disturbing. And it should be clear I don’t think Obama was making a joke.

  22. Jon S

    A day late on this post, but isn’t warfarin primarily used for people who have had strokes? The goal being to thin your blood to avoid the brain clots that can cause strokes?

  23. Micky9finger

    It was just an avuncular joke. Obama had no intention of using the secret service or fbi to check on his putative “charges” fiancee .

    1. Arizona Slim

      On paper, a lot of jokes fall flat. Methinks that this one was one of those “you had to be there” jokes.

  24. cripes

    Quibbling whether Obama is “kidding” or being serious about background checks on boyfriends completely misses the point and verges on Obamapology.

    Mr Trump, who is wrong about almost everything, is almost certainly right that Obama directed the FBI to spy on the Trump campaign and “Russia.”

    So Chozicks blushing account is just a lessor example of Barry’s proven contempt for privacy, the constitution, the “office” of the president and the mopes who he can abuse at will with impunity. It also is an ugly habit he displays openly–at national press dinners fer chrissakes–of his unchecked power to surveille, maim and kill.

    Kind of a cutesy, Ivy League version of a mafia thug.
    “Swimming wit da fishes, ha, ha, ha!

    After the staged idolatry, the disappointment and the dust settles, all we are left with is the chummy elitism, the betrayal, and the creepiness of the man.

    1. Donald

      I could believe that he directed the FBI to spy on Trump. But I think the Chozick comment was a joke. I dislike Obama and think he is a war criminal, so your Obama apologetics theory doesn’t really work very well in my case.

      (

  25. Lambert Strether Post author

    > “it was a joke”

    To repeat, I would have more confidence this were true if the reporter, Amy Chozick, had reported it that way. She didn’t. (And even if it were a joke, it’s creepy as hell.)

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