Hillary's Hit List
Many of the other names on the traitor side of the ledger were easy to remember, from Ted Kennedy to John Lewis, the civil rights icon whose defection had been so painful that Bill Clinton seemed to be in a state of denial about it. In private conversations, he tried to explain away Lewis’s motivations for switching camps midstream, after Obama began ratcheting up pressure for black lawmakers to get on “the right side of history.”Of course, all the same people who condemned Sarah Palin for "targeting" vulnerable Democrats in Congress will speak up just as forcefully about Hillary's Hit List.
Lewis, because of his own place in American history and the unique loyalty test he faced with the first viable black candidate running for president, is a perfect example of why Clinton aides had to keep track of more detailed information than the simple binary of for and against. Perhaps someday Lewis’s betrayal could be forgiven.
Ted Kennedy (another seven on the hit list) was a different story.
He had slashed Hillary worst of all, delivering a pivotal endorsement speech for Obama just before the Super Tuesday primaries that cast her as yesterday’s news and Obama as the rightful heir to Camelot. He did it in conjunction with a New York Times op-ed by Caroline Kennedy that said much the same thing in less thundering tones. Bill Clinton had pleaded with Kennedy to hold off, but to no avail.
Still, Clinton aides exulted in schadenfreude when their enemies faltered. Years later they would joke about the fates of folks who they felt had betrayed them.
“Bill Richardson: investigated; John Edwards: disgraced by scandal; Chris Dodd: stepped down,” one said to another. “Ted Kennedy,” the aide continued, lowering his voice to a whisper for the punch line, “dead.”
For several months, as the campaign intensified, Balderston and Elrod kept close tabs on an even smaller subset of targeted members of Congress, who were still undecided after Super Tuesday.
Because Hillary and her team made such an intense effort to swing these particular lawmakers in the final months of the campaign, they are the first names that spring to mind when Hillary’s aides talk about who stuck a knife in her back and twisted it.