WASHINGTON, DC: The Clinton White House, which has weathered more than its share of communications crises over the last seven years, has found itself torn by an entirely unexpected one: a feud between the Bill (West Wing) and Hillary (East Wing) camps.
WASHINGTON, DC: The Clinton White House, which has weathered more
than its share of communications crises over the last seven years, has
found itself torn by an entirely unexpected one: a feud between the Bill
(West Wing) and Hillary (East Wing) camps.
According to insiders, managing internal communications in the White
House while the First Lady mulls her Senate run has become increasingly
difficult, with each wing operating virtually independent of the
The result, of course, has been significant embarrassment for both
camps, each of whom strenuously deny rumors of dissent.
’Overall, we have a great deal of respect for one another, and I think
we work well together,’ Marsha Berry, the First Lady’s spokeswoman, told
the New York Daily News. Added deputy presidential spokesman Barry Toiv,
’The occasional glitch has not affected (the) strong relationship.’
The first major dust-up between the Bill and Hillary camps occurred over
the President’s offer of clemency to Puerto Rican terrorists. While the
First Lady initially supported the plan, she backed off upon learning
that the New York electorate strongly opposed it. When questioned about
the seeming clash, Toiv appeared to be caught off-guard, thus giving the
impression that he was not aware of Hillary’s about-face.
The President’s staff was also taken aback with the First Lady’s
controversy-generating interview in Talk magazine. Bill himself seemed
surprised to read his wife’s assertion that childhood ’abuse’ led to his
Then there was Hillary’s disclosure that her stepgrandfather was
When asked for comment on the sudden revelation - which most interpreted
as a transparent effort to reach New York’s important Jewish voting bloc
- an aide said, ’What? Where is this coming from?’
The west-wingers have been fighting back by freezing out Hillary’s
communication staffers, treating them like second-class citizens and
failing to be completely candid in sharing information. The First Lady’s
communicators were also peeved by presidential press secretary Joe
Lockhart’s offensive against NY mayor Rudy Giuliani, Hillary’s likely
opponent in the Senate race.
The problem may lie with the First Lady’s difficult task of forging a
strong, separate identity. ’Certain people see her inextricably linked
to him,’ said Rep. Lynn Rivers. ’They have worked together hand-in-hand
throughout the whole presidency. She refers to him constantly.’ However,
publicly breaking with her husband on sensitive topics, such as Mideast
policy, might not be the best way to combat this perceived problem.