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Memories: Hillary Versus Barbra Streisand

By now you have surely heard the momentous news that Barbra [sic] Streisand has endorsed Mrs. Bill Clinton and will probably stump for her.

If not, here is one report from the (NYT owned) Boston Globe:

Streisand adds her big-star power to Clinton campaign

November 28, 2007

Barack Obama has Oprah Winfrey. Mike Huckabee has Chuck Norris. And now Hillary Clinton has Babs.

In the presidential hopefuls’ competition for celebrity endorsements, Clinton showed off award-winning actress and singer Barbra Streisand yesterday. Streisand, who has campaigned for Democratic candidates for years and who sang at Bill Clinton’s 1993 inaugural gala, was effusive in her praise of the senator from New York.

“Hillary Clinton has already proven to a generation of women that there are no limits for success,” Streisand said in a statement issued by Clinton’s campaign. “Smart, capable, and strong in her convictions, Hillary has transcended the dictates of what is thought to be possible for our time.”

But earlier this year, Streisand appeared to be hedging her bets. Within a month of giving Clinton the maximum $2,300 contribution on Feb. 14, she also gave the same amount to Obama and John Edwards, according to Federal Election Commission records.

The statement does not say how actively Streisand will campaign for Clinton. She would have to go a long way to match the star power of Winfrey, who plans to hit the campaign trail for Obama in Iowa, South Carolina, and New Hampshire next weekend.

Of course it’s great to see Ms. Streisand offering to give Hillary some much needed support. But things have not always been so “transcendent” between these two historical titans.

From State of a Union: Inside the Complex Marriage of Bill and Hillary Clinton, by Jerry Oppenheimer, pp 241-243:

Political Gaffes, Personal Trauma

At the same time, Bill and Hillary experienced a series of difficult personal losses. Hugh Rodham, Hillary’s father, was the first.

He had not been well, and by the time the Rodhams moved from Park Ridge to Little Rock in 1987, his health was failing badly…

[O]n March 19, 1993, as Hillary’s first public hearing on health care loomed, her father suffered a massive stroke. Hugh had been in high spirits, having just made a cameo appearance on the TV sitcom Hearts Afire, one of several high-rated shows produced by Bill and Hillary’s pals and advisors, Harry Thomason and Linda Blood­worth-Thomason, key players in the Clintons’ Hollywood crowd.

Her father comatose and on life support, Hillary, along with Chelsea, flew immediately to Little Rock, while Hughie and Tony jet­ted in from Florida, beginning a long emotional vigil at St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center. At night the family stayed in the Rodhams’ small red brick condo. Hillary kept in close telephone contact with her White House health task force, and spent time briefing Vice President Al Gore, who was chairing the hearing in her absence. Bill arrived in Little Rock a week later, to join the family.

With doctors offering little hope for Rodham’s survival, the family began to plan for the funeral…

After a couple of days, Bill flew back to Washington; he needed to make final preparations for his upcoming first summit with Russian president Boris Yeltsin, the White House announced. There was another reason for his return, however—he was expecting a special overnight guest.

“I was going over to see Hugh at the hospital, and thought I might see Hillary just to speak to her, see how she’s doing, and boom—she’s gone,” said Paul Fray [an early friend and political operative who served as campaign manager for Clinton’s 1974 congressional campaign]. “When I got there, I said, ‘What happened, where is she?’ And this guy said, ‘You don’t want to know.’ I said, ‘What the hell are you talking about?’ He said, ‘This is off the record—but it looks like Bill’s got tied up with Barbra Streisand up at the White House.’ I said, ‘Man, you’re talking a bunch of crap.’ And he said, `Well, why else did Hillary go home while her daddy’s laying here get­ting ready to die?’ ”

Hillary had, in fact, rushed back to the White House after getting the news that Streisand—who performed at the inauguration—had spent a night in the plush and historic Lincoln bedroom while Hillary was grieving over her comatose father in a depressing and sterile hospital room. (The White House spin was that Hillary had returned to handle urgent business regarding her health care program.)

She had also heard that during her absence Bill, spiffy in a black-sequined tuxedo, had escorted Streisand and his mother, who had become very friendly with the singer, to the Gridiron Dinner, an annual media-politico event. There, in a party-hardy mood, the president wailed on his sax to the Coasters’ golden oldie, “Yakety Yak.”

Hillary was livid. Soon after her return, reporters noticed a vicious-looking scratch on the president’s face. Queried, White House spokes­woman Dee Dee Myers dismissed it as a shaving cut. Later, after leaving the White House, she hedged. “I’m the idiot who said he cut himself shaving before I’d seen him. Then I saw him—it was a big scratch, clearly not a shaving cut. Barbra Streisand was clearly around at the time,” she said.

Tales of a bloody confrontation between the Clintons prompted by Streisand’s visit circulated wildly. Paul Fray put it succinctly: “Hillary left Little Rock like a rocket, went back, and caught the son of a bitch. You know who got hit in the chops, who got smacked around.”

There were tabloid reports at the time, denied of course, that Bill and Barbra had had an affair, and that the First Lady had banned the singer from the White House permanently. “She, more than any other film figure,” commented London’s Daily Mail, which took a sharp interest in such matters, “has swift and easy access to Bill Clinton’s White House. She has stayed overnight at the mansion. The President drops everything to take her calls. Around the dinner tables of Wash­ington, there is light gossip about a romantic liaison between the Presi­dent and the formidable Streisand.”

As it turned out, Barbra Streisand was one subject about whom both Hillary and Monica Lewinsky seemed to see eye to eye, according to one of Linda Tripp’s secret tapes. Like Hillary, Lewinsky reportedly suspected Streisand had been one of the president’s women.

“Ugh. I hate her,” whined Monica. “She’s soooo annoying.” Tripp responded: “She gets prettier as she gets older.” But a catty Monica replied: “Where do you think that’s from? Plastic surgery probably. She’s probably had everything done but her nose.”

(If there had been a falling out between Hillary and Streisand, the diva attempted to smooth things over with money—she was listed as an early contributor to Hillary’s senate campaign.)

Hillary was still in Washington on the evening of April 7, when her father died, at age eighty-two. The Clintons immediately returned to Little Rock to be with the grieving widow.

It’s nice to see that everyone can forgive and forget, isn’t it?

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, November 28th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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