On Tuesday, yet another book unpacking the Obama White House hits bookshelves, and it's likely to make Jodi Kantor's The Obamas — which was not well-received by the First Couple — feel like a neighborly visit. The Amateur, by former New York Times Magazine editor Edward Klein, has slowly been leaking out via occasional excerpts in the New York Post, including one last week about Bill Clinton urging wife Hillary to not concede 2012 to Obama. Last night, the Post revealed two more excerpts, these ones chock-a-block with even splashier revelations about Jeremiah Wright hush money and a falling out with Oprah. Some of Klein's past practices have been questionable at best, so please bring your oversize shalt shaker.
In the first of the two outtakes, Klein meets Jeremiah Wright, the former Obama pastor whose racially tinged sermons caused the then-candidate some headaches, and is told that "one of Barack's closest friends" offered him $150,000 not to preach at all until after the November election. (Though the Post tweeted that it was "the Obama campaign" that offered the "bribe," there is no mention in the excerpt of anyone other than the "friend" pushing Wright to take a paid vacation.) Obama did, however, meet with Wright in secret. Here is the preacher's recollection, as recounted by Klein.
"And one of the first things Barack said was, 'I really wish you wouldn’t do any more public speaking until after the November election.' He knew I had some speaking engagements lined up, and he said, 'I wish you wouldn’t speak. It’s gonna hurt the campaign if you do that.'
"And what did you say?" I asked.
"I said, 'I don’t see it that way. And anyway, how am I supposed to support my family?' And he said, 'Well, I wish you wouldn’t speak in public. The press is gonna eat you alive.'
Which it then did.
The other excerpt is directed at First Lady Michelle Obama, who is apparently worried her husband might become too much like fellow charisma magnets Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy.
"Michelle makes it clear to her inner circle, and this certainly includes Valerie [Jarrett], that she wants women around Barack watched and wants info about who he has an eye for and gets touchy with," this person continued. 'The thing is, she knows, like everybody, about JFK’s shenanigans, and she thinks, hey, JFK was young and good looking like my guy."
What's particularly noteworthy here is that the unnamed source cited above is actually a friend of Oprah's, who was repeating to Klein gossip that Oprah's East Wing friends had repeated to her. And why was Oprah keeping tabs on Michelle, according to Klein? Turns out Michelle does not like Oprah, not one bit. In fact, she resents the fact that early on her husband, the president, sought Oprah's advice so readily.
As far as Michelle was concerned, Oprah’s billions and her elite lifestyle disqualified her as an adviser to Barack, who had no truck with wealthy people, except as a source of campaign contributions, and was a redistributionist at heart.
So, supposedly, when Oprah requested an interview at the White House, Michelle first stonewalled her, then made her go through some bureaucratically minded mid-level officials ("Oprah was like, 'Hello, what is this s--t!"). When the queen of TV finally arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with Gayle King in tow, she was made to wait like a mere mortal. Things got really heated between the two women when Oprah later offered to help out Michelle's anti-obesity campaign by giving her a prime-time television platform. Here's the First Lady's supposed reply.
"Oprah only wants to cash in, using the White House as a backdrop for her show to perk up her ratings," Michelle was quoted as telling her staff. "Oprah, with her yo-yo dieting and huge girth, is a terrible role model. Kids will look at Oprah, who’s rich and famous and huge, and figure it’s OK to be fat."
Harsh! Though it should be mentioned that it is not entirely clear if this is coming straight from one of the First Lady's staff or if this is second-, third-, or even eighteenth-hand information.
Maybe all this catfighting is the real reason why Oprah announced last month that though she's "100 percent behind our president," she won't be touring America with him this time around.