Historian Doug Wead, author of Game of Thorns: The Inside Story of Hillary Clinton’s Failed Campaign and Donald Trump’s Winning Strategy, was a guest on Tuesday’s Breitbart News Daily with SiriusXM host Alex Marlow.
“I guess it depends on your point of reference, but for me, I was surprised at the 27 years of war between the FBI and the Clintons,” Wead said of his research into the 2016 presidential campaign. “I had a vague, blurry understanding of that. I didn’t have the details. It is stunning. They tried to co-opt the FBI when they went into the White House, as if it was their palace guard, and like they would serve them as the troopers did in Arkansas. There has been an ongoing tug of war with the Clintons and the FBI for many years. Amazing story.”
“When the Clintons got into the White House, one of the first things they wanted to do was take over the travel department and give it to some of their own campaign people,” he recalled. “There were lucrative contracts for airline charters, and so they fired the White House travel department, which had served every American president since John F. Kennedy and were beloved by the media. They fired them, and then retroactively tried to find a reason to fire them. They called in the FBI, said, ‘We want you to investigate these people,’ and the FBI was reluctant.”
“Then the Clintons set up their own internal investigation department. It was called White House Personnel Security, appointed a couple of their own staff to run it, accessed FBI background files on people, and tried to put their own case together. That held the FBI’s feet to the fire. They had to do something, and so eventually, the FBI found something. That was the beginning. Of course, the FBI deeply resented that,” he said.
Marlow noted that Wead is an expert on the history of First Families, as demonstrated in his books All the President’s Children: Triumph and Tragedy in the Lives of America’s First Families and The Raising of a President: The Mothers and Fathers of Our Nation’s Leaders. He asked for Wead’s thoughts on how President Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, is effectively serving as first lady while Melania Trump remains in New York for now and might not move to Washington at all.
“It makes perfect sense to me,” said Wead. “We’ve had this happen before. FDR had the daughter, Anna Roosevelt, who was very talented and strong. She ended up running the White House for the last year in office. I write about Ivanka a lot in the book. There’s a scene in one of my books where Eleanor Roosevelt goes to Anna, the daughter of the president, and begs to be put on the manifest to go to Yalta. She’s the first lady, begging her daughter to go to Yalta! And Anna says no!”
“So we’ve had moments where we have had presidential families with powerful children and children who are extremely talented. We’re going to see some things that will happen, but will they be unprecedented? No,” he said.
Marlow pointed to an especially interesting chapter in Game of Thorns where Wead chronicles the belated realization of Hillary Clinton staffers and political allies that she might actually lose the 2016 election, after long assuming a landslide victory was all but inevitable. Wead agreed there was a powerful “bubble” effect at work.
“It was a collusion of the Left and the Right and the corporate media,” he said. “It was academia, it was pharmaceuticals and hospitals. It was the monopolies, the oligarchy, as Bernie Sanders folks called them. They were all feeding on each other, reinforcing each other. It was quite a phenomenon. I compare it to animals on the plains, the herd. They all travel together. They don’t move. One of them starts to move. They all look up and they all start moving. It was stunning.”
“The leadership of Donald Trump, his ability to use branding, I like to say – and what I learned in studying this for Game of Thorns is that he’s always on message. Even when he’s off message, he’s on message,” said Wead, “because the message is ‘Make America Great Again,’ and the second part of the message is, ‘I ain’t no politician.’ So when he’s off message and irritating people and saying bizarre things that they wonder about, he’s communicating that ‘I’m not a politician,’ and that’s on message. It’s a real paradigm change in the art of politics, very dramatic and very stunning.”
“And yes, they deceived themselves,” he said of the Clinton campaign. “Bill Clinton saw some things. He got so angry at one point, he threw his cell phone off of a rooftop after calling Hillary. He felt, ‘You’re losing the Catholic vote. This is for yours to take. It’s on the table.’ Barack Obama called the campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, told them, ‘You’re losing the evangelical Christian vote; it would be easy to pick up some of it.’ When they hung up from the call, they actually laughed at him. It was amazing, the self-denial that you describe. It was stunning.”
Wead looked at President Trump’s performance in office so far, and said he was “doing tremendous.”
“Tonight, he’s going to give his speech to the joint sessions of Congress. These speeches are famous because presidents never do what they say they’re going to do when they give these speeches,” he observed.
“I mean, Barack Obama talked about, in his speech to the joint sessions, he talked about how we’re going to hold corporations to these regulations, and then he promptly passed a stimulus bill that exempted major monopolies in America from keeping all the environmental regulations that small businesses had to keep, in the name of creating jobs. You had Bill Clinton’s speech where he said we’re going to end welfare as we know it. The only president who really gave a speech and then followed through on what he said he was going to do was George W. Bush, whose speech contradicted what he ran on, the platform he ran on. He ran on a platform of no nation-building, but his speech to the joint sessions was about our responsibility to the world,” he recalled.
“Donald Trump’s speech will be the opposite. His speech will be, ‘Hey, we can’t police the world if we can’t police Chicago. We’ve got to take care of ourselves first, and we’ve got to get back to full strength again before we can assume responsibility for anybody else in the world.’ I believe the big difference is he’s going to do what he says,” Wead predicted.
Marlow worried that the worldviews of President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan are “so diametrically opposed” that they will not be able to agree on some of the most important Trump agenda items.
“You make a good point there,” Wead responded. “The only cautionary thing I would say, having worked in the White House as a special assistant to the president, you can’t believe how frustrating it was. They don’t call it the ‘media’ for nothing. They do mediate. They are in between what the White House does and the people, and Trump’s trying to get around that.”
“I guess the point I’m making is what we’re seeing and feeling may not be completely accurate. He’s trying his best with Twitter, with some of the changes that have taken place in technology, to go around that – but I think if you sat down with him for an hour in a room, you might be a bit stunned to hear his version of things because we’re not getting that,” he said.
“As much as we believe we’re not affected by what the media is saying and doing, and we spot their inconsistencies and their juxtaposition of stories with video, and what they don’t say, as well as what they say, we are affected. We know that from the experience of the Soviet Union. People, it’s subtle, but they are affected by consistent propaganda,” he warned.
Marlow referred to former President George W. Bush’s interview with NBC News this week, in which he criticized President Trump, both implicitly and explicitly, after eight years of silence during the Obama administration.
“Part of Game of Thorns uncovers this amazing collusion between the Clintons and the Bushes,” Wead revealed. “They ultimately betrayed each other, but at first, they worked together. They had the same donors. They’re part of the establishment.”
“A lot of this has to do with China,” he explained. “We started talking about China, but you’ve really got to read the book. There are people who were sources for me in China who risked their life to talk to me, and there are sources in the Clinton campaign who risked their jobs to talk to me. But China’s very much at the heart of this. The Bushes have a sentimental, emotional, and personal attachment to China. The Clintons, of course, have investments from China. They’ve been given money from China. It’s very much a complicated thing, but the point is I’m not a bit surprised to see George W. Bush say what he’s saying.”
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