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Why Hillary Clinton Can’t Quit Sid Blumenthal

Whatever his faults, he saw her as a political paragon, as his memoir, “The Clinton Wars,” shows.
Sidney Blumenthal At The JFK School Of Government
Photographer: Dominic Chavez/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Among journalists, Sid Blumenthal is a cautionary tale, bringing home starkly the ethical dangers of falling too hard for a subject. Pushed out of the New Yorker after carrying the Clintons’ water during Bill’s first term, he crossed the line and joined the administration, becoming especially close to Hillary Clinton while earning a reputation for his take-no-prisoners tactics. In 2008, he was bestowed the nickname “Grassy Knoll” for being associated with some of the ugliest strains of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Blumenthal’s 2003 book, The Clinton Wars, is definitely a warrior’s memoir—and it saves its most ringing encomiums for the first lady. No wonder Hillary Clinton has kept him around all these years.

“In the middle of the free-for-all, a woman with shoulder-length brown hair and thick glasses stood up. It was the thirty-nine-year-old Hillary Rodham Clinton. She spoke deliberately and pointedly. Her thoughts were framed with great logic. She was emphatic but composed. She referred to what her husband had said and provided steel bracing for his expansive talk. Hillary had the effect of settling in Bill’s favor whatever matter was at issue.”