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When Hillary “Channeled” Eleanor Roosevelt

A flashback from a 2004 article that appeared in the Sunday Business Post:

Presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., speaks at the 7th annual Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy committee luncheon, Monday, Oct. 15, 2007, in New York.

Succour for suckers

Sunday, February 01, 2004

By Jennifer O’Connell

Stuck in a relationship rut? Suffering from low self-esteem?

Want to give up smoking? Can’t get a boyfriend? Can’t get a job running a powerful new world economy? Want to invade a small Middle-Eastern country but unsure if the planets are suitably aligned? Concerned about what the placement of plants in your living room is doing to your chakras? …

In 1994, reeling from the Democrats’ defeat in congressional elections, Hillary Clinton, that otherwise apparently sane woman, invited five professional feel gooders to spend the weekend with her and Bill. They included Stephen Covey, author of the Seven Habits of Highly Successful People and Jean Houston, a self-styled “sacred psychologist”.

As the weekend wore on, it was increasingly dominated by Hillary’s own problems.

Houston, who felt that “being Hillary Clinton was like being Mozart with his hands cut off”, informed the First Lady that she was “carrying the burden of 5,000 years of history when women were subservient . . . probably more than virtually any woman in human history – apart from Joan of Arc”.

Houston and the latter-day Joan conducted seances in which they consulted Clinton’s ‘spiritual archetypes’, Eleanor Roosevelt and Mahatma Gandhi.

When it came out, the reaction of Republicans to Wackygate was uncharacteristically muted…

From Carl Bernstein’s book, A Woman In Charge, pp 412-7:

Truth or Consequences

Of all the New Age thinkers the Clintons had gotten to know from these weekends, few had intrigued Hillary (and millions of other Americans) more than Texas-born Marianne Williamson. Like many New Age authors and circuit-riders, Williamson’s résumé was a mix of the serious (infusing politics with spiritual principles), the celebritized (presiding over Elizabeth Taylor’s eighth wedding), and the silly (promoting a version of solitaire with a fifty-card “miracle deck”). She was five years younger than Hillary, and her “underlying message,” according to one reviewer, “encourag[ed] women to seek and find God via the love inside themselves and to reinforce their sense of self-esteem.”

In December, when Hillary seemed near the point of emotional collapse, with Bill deeply depressed and dysfunctional and their political future imperiled, Hillary reached out to Williamson. New Age thought borrowed heavily from traditional theology, especially its message of going deep within and finding personal strength in adversity. No one had preached this message more effectively, or profitably, than Williamson, who took the initiative to suggest that Hillary and Bill consider getting together with her and a group of people far removed from the political establishment to discuss alternative ways of looking at the next two years of the presidency, and the difficulties of the previous two…

For the Camp David weekend, Williamson had also engaged two lesser-known women on the seminar and lecture circuit whom she thought Hillary would take comfort in talking to in her current state: Mary Catherine Bateson and Jean Houston, who often worked in tandem…

Jean Houston, with her husband, Dr. Robert E. L. Masters, was co-director of the Foundation for Mind Research, in Pomona, New York, best known for research into psychedelic drugs, hypnosis, sexual behavior, and “humanistic psychology.”

She was also founder and principal teacher of “the Mystery School,” a bicoastal seminar ($2,995 per student) of “cross-cultural, mythic and spiritual studies, dedicated to teaching history, philosophy, the New Physics, psychology, anthropology, myth and the many dimensions of human potential.” She described herself as a “scholar, philosopher and researcher in Human Capacities.” …

There were hardly any staff members present for the weekend, partly to keep the sessions, with their obvious potential for ridicule, from leaking. In summoning the participants, Williamson had told them that Hillary was at a “low point” and wanted to discuss, among other things, how to better communicate the administration’s message in the next two years. Houston “did the major guiding” (as she later put it), which evolved into a discussion of “the communication of visions”—which, of course, harked back to the Camp David staff meeting of April 1993 in which Hillary had been so adamant both about communicating the new presidency’s “vision” and concomitantly demonizing the Clintons’ enemies and Democratic skeptics alike…

BOTH BATESON and Houston were shocked at how fragile and confused Hillary seemed: “battered . . . tormented” (noted Houston), lacking her customary confidence in herself, clearly exhausted—reaching out for some help, and settling on a course of making things better through prayer, travel, and writing. When Houston asked Hillary some of the same questions she had asked Bill, the first lady had hardly responded.

Later Hillary would write about summoning the strong voices inside oneself of parents, mentors, and teachers whose messages of encouragement and care helped children grow into confident, capable adults able to weather the inevitable storms of a lifetime. But at this juncture Hillary seemed depleted even of those voices.

The one voice she seemed to identify with was Eleanor Roosevelt’s. Eleanor had gone through some of the same trials and experiences—including the kind of opprobrium Hillary had been subjected to, said the first lady. She was intrigued that Houston, who was ten years older than herself, had known Eleanor…

Hillary, in her fourth week in the White House, had spoken at a dinner in Manhattan to raise funds for a statue of Eleanor Roosevelt, to be erected nearby at the entrance of Riverside Park. “I thought about all the conversations I’ve had in my head with Mrs. Roosevelt this year, one of the saving graces that I have hung on to for dear life,” said Hillary in her remarks. In these “conversations,” she looked to Eleanor for guidance, encouragement, and insight. Among the questions she had sought Eleanor’s answers to were, “How did you put up with this?” and “How did you go on day to day, with all the attacks and criticisms that would be hurled your way?”

Houston told Hillary that, like Eleanor, she was being made to suffer for functioning as a woman in a metier that was too associated with men for her to be accepted without savage criticism and resistance. It was as if she were carrying the history of womankind on her back. But now Hillary was on the cusp of almost biblical opportunity, far greater than Eleanor’s because this was an era in which a lone figure like Hillary could break through on behalf of all women. But first she needed to find her voice, to promote her powerful message that transcended mere politics: a woman’s voice, speaking about children and families and principles and policies that would make the world a better place.

And on this Jean and Mary Catherine promised they could help her, by shaping the book Hillary said she was about to begin writing. “I was essentially an editor; I’d written a whole lot of books,” Houston said. “My whole life has been devoted to pushing the membrane of the possible, to push the boundaries of human capacity.” Those books included The Varieties of Psychedelic Experience: The Classic Guide to the Effects of LSD on the Human Psyche, written with her husband; The Passion of Isis and Osiris, which used Egyptian myth as a modern “design for the marriage of body and soul, life and death, the tangible and the hidden”; and Godseed: The Journey of Christ, in which, through “mythology, Jungian psychology, mysticism, anthropology, new science, and just plain creativity,” Houston suggested ways to “experience the Christ life.” …

Whatever Houston and Bateson could contribute to the book, what they felt was most important was to encourage her to “act as if” all the attacks, reproof, and disparagement were not something she absorbed and bought into (as Jean had put it), to not let it erode her own belief in herself. Her faith in her own competence and abilities had been deeply shaken, they believed. Her defenses were so weak that “hostile messages” were taking root in her being. It was important that Hillary not believe she had become the person her critics claimed she was.

Within two weeks, the press was on to the Camp David weekend, gleefully tweaking details about the first family’s “convention of New Age guru authors.” The Washington Post took special note that “personal growth guru” Jean Houston “specialized in walking on hot coals as a demonstration of the power of positive thinking,” though not on this particular weekend.

Bill Clinton was not amused. His press secretary repeatedly denied that he “lacks a sense of who he is as president and where he wants to go.” The same story in the Post noted that New Age guru-ism is mostly alien to Washington’s practical political culture. None of the stories, however, covered what was discussed. Nor were the reporters who wrote them cognizant of how vulnerable and desperate for answers Hillary was…

And from Bay Buchanan’s book, Extreme Makeover, pg. 32, we have these further details:

The Personality

Jean Houston became a close advisor of Hillary’s, and on numerous occasions she stayed at the Whine House for days at a time. She worked with Hillary through therapy sessions designed to help the First Lady reach her full human potential. Part of the therapy, often called “channeling,” included guiding Hillary in conversations with the dead—Eleanor Roosevelt and Mahatma Gandhi to be precise.

Houston understood firsthand the value of this exercise. In a 1989 conference she told a crowd of 6,000 she had contacted the Hindu goddess Sarasvati while meditating on the Ganges River in India.

In his book The Choice, Bob Woodward writes that one day, after finishing up a discussion with Eleanor, “Houston asked Hillary to carry on a conversation with Mahatma Gandhi, the Hindu leader, a powerful symbol of stoic denial. Talk to him, Houston said. What would you say and what would you ask?” And Hillary did. “It was a strong personal outpouring,” Woodward reported. Gandhi’s response went unreported.

While Woodward refers to Houston as Hillary’s “spiritual advisor,” the First Lady refutes it in her book, instead calling Houston a dynamic, witty, and knowledgeable woman who was great medicine for “anyone in need of a good laugh.” Hillary has a point here. Tell me to talk to the dead and I’d fall over laughing.

Yes, we all like a good laugh.

But maybe not for President.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Tuesday, October 16th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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