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Blood feud: the American republic vs. dynasties

The Clintons and the Obamas put on a dignified face in public, but a new book says they are mortal enemies.
The Clintons and the Obamas put on a dignified face in public, but a new book says they are mortal enemies.
Photo by Pool/Getty Images

If there is any truth at all in Ed Klein's new book on the Obamas and the Clintons, it is contained in one simple construct -- both families want to become dynasties in America. Add to that the Bush family as they make noises about Jeb Bush running for president in 2016, and what you have are three very powerful and rich families competing to advance their prospects to create American royalty. The glaring problem is that we don't have dynasties in America, period. We do not look kindly upon royalty and our founding documents are designed in part to prevent such vestiges of a privileged class, complete with a monarchy.

A mere cursory reading of the works of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams, for example, will reveal that even as the fledgling new Republic was struggling to get off the ground in a grueling and bloody war of independence from the British Empire, there were some American, especially in the colonies of the northeast, and even among those who had been elected to office, who wanted to replicate here the system of government they fled in England.

Some wanted General Washington to become King, an idea which he quickly shot down at the outset. Jefferson was livid at the very notion of an American dynasty and blasted his colleagues for merely suggesting such a thing. But Adams leaned toward concentrating power in the presidency and thus, worked to give George Washington free reign over the government.

When approached by his fellow Founders to be asked to run for the presidency, Washington was totally cold toward the idea. He feared the sentiment that ran deep in some circles that he would be viewed as a King with at least some of the powers possessed by sovereign monarchies. So, he turned it down flatly. He wanted to live out the rest of his days, after having led the army to victory over the British, tending to and expanding his business ventures in Mt. Vernon. It would take two more tries before Washington would finally consent, but even then he made it clear that his supporters must not ever treat him as a sovereign monarch or anything close to it. Washington insisted that dynasties are as anti-American as taxation without representation.

Interestingly, Washington often had to referee a running feud on the subject between Jefferson and Adams, despite the fact that the two were very good friends. Letters have been preserved which show the depth of emotion the two expressed when sharing their thoughts about how the federal government should be configured and how much power the states would have in the end. Adams was elected as the nation's second president, but many of his ideas and proposals were rejected by vehement voices in the states that opposed centralized government. Jefferson was one of them but by no means the only one. Some of the patriots in the states were so adamant about the power of the various states that they opposed adopting the Constitution, not because of philosophical disagreements but due to their deeply held belief that the nation needed no such document since the states already had their own, and most if not all of the issues covered by the Constitution were already addressed by the state constitutions.

The country, at least at that time, seem to gradually come around to Jefferson's way of thinking, rejecting the notion of a powerful president and centralized government. This was one of the reasons Jefferson was elected as the nation's third president. But they embraced a Constitution at the federal level due to the fact that the concepts of small government and limited power would be codified into law.

It goes without saying that the 20th century managed to undo most of the philosophical and legal prohibitions on centralized government power. The nation has been going downhill ever since, with brief respites under Calvin Coolidge and Ronald Reagan.

And thus here we are in 2014 talking about dynasties in America. Klein lays it all out in his book "Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. the Obamas."

Klein provides personal information that many believe is fabricated or embellished. How else, they ask, could he possibly know these things? That criticism may or may not be valid in Klein's case. He is a journalist who served as an editor at Newsweek Magazine and at the New York Times -- two publications not known for their fairness to conservatives. But he knows a lot of people who are insiders. And in exchange for their willingness to give him information no one else would have, he offered them anonymity. News reporters rely on anonymous sources all the time, and for good reason. If their names are used, not only could they lose their jobs but their very lives as well as that of their families could be placed in great danger.

My biggest criticism of the book is not the information Klein discloses but the manner in which it is disclosed, which tends to elicit a sympathetic response toward the Clintons when compared to the evil Obamas. Make no mistake, however. In this case, one is as bad as the other. The Clintons have a long history of ruthlessness when it comes to their ideology and proposals, and while the Clintons are bad enough, I can think of no one in politics except the Obamas who come close to matching the evil and ruthlessness of the Clintons.

Bill Clinton's only saving grace during his presidency, if he had one at all, was his insatiable need for approval, to be liked, even loved. This character trait is probably one of the primary factors that prevented him from going too far into left field. But Hillary has no such trait. Neither does Obama.

To be sure, Hillary loves to party and let the good times roll. But not at the expense of her extremist political ideology. Obama loves to bask in the adoration of the masses around the world, as we saw him do in the early days of his presidency. But not at the expense of his ideology that in some ways is more extremist than Hillary's. Both are willing to take a beating in the opinion polls and suffer through widespread disapproval in order to ram their collectivist notions down the throats of the public, This is why both are so dangerous. America can do infinitely better.

You may also be interested in the following:

My personal blog, The Liberty Sphere.

My popular series titled, Musings After Midnight.

My ministry site, Martin Christian Ministries.