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SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL Printer Friendly Page

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  • Assistant to former President Bill Clinton
  • Developed a reputation for mercilessly smearing opponents of Clinton
  • Currently writes for Salon.com and The Guardian
  • Proponent of the "Third Way," a centrist philosophy that borrows ideas from both Marxism and capitalism

  • Famous for his unwavering loyalty to Bill and Hillary Clinton, Sidney Blumenthal is an American journalist who served as assistant and senior adviser to President Bill Clinton from August 1997 until January 2001.

    Born in Chicago in November 1948, Blumenthal graduated from Brandeis University in 1969 and became a national political correspondent for The New Republic. He also worked as a writer and editor for such publications as The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and Vanity Fair.

    Blumenthal first met the Clintons at a Renaissance Weekend in the 1980s, and his friendship with the couple deepened as he covered the 1992 presidential campaign. Some of Blumenthal’s peers assert that his close relationship with the Clintons rendered him unable to write objectively about them. In 1997, as Blumenthal left journalism and joined the White House Communications team, the New York Observer stated that “the long-time cheerleader for Bill Clinton will now get paid by the White House for his boosterism.”

    As an assistant to President Clinton, Blumenthal’s duties included writing major speeches, crafting foreign policy, and researching news stories in the general media pertinent to the White House. He also was tasked with smearing and defaming Clinton opponents, which he did with enough tenacity to earn himself the nickname “Sid Vicious.”

    Blumenthal joined the Clinton administration only months before news of the President's affair with Monica Lewisky first made headlines. The grand jury investigating the Lewinsky matter called on Blumenthal to testify about what Clinton may have told him regarding the young woman. During this period, Blumenthal publicly characterized Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr as “a prosecutor on a mad mission from God”; a “constitutional illiterate”; and part of “a right-wing conspiracy.”

    Blumenthal is believed to have been responsible in 1998 for leaking information to the media regarding an extramarital affair in which Clinton opponent Henry Hyde had been involved during the 1960s. 

    Politically, Blumenthal is a proponent of the "Third Way" movement. Also known as the "Radical Middle," the Third Way is a centrist philosophy which borrows ideas from both Marxism and capitalism. During his tenure as a Clinton staffer, Blumenthal was a key organizer of several Third Way conferences. 

    After the Clinton presidency ended, Blumenthal came to the former President’s defense regarding his track record on terrorism. Said Blumenthal: “Clinton was very early on aware of the problem of international terrorism ... We barely missed killing bin Laden. There were numerous findings issued by the President to kill him.” Other Clinton aides have faulted Clinton for ignoring repeated opportunities to capture or kill the al Qaeda leader.

    Following his work in the Clinton administration, Blumenthal authored The Clinton Wars, a 2003 memoir of his experiences in the White House.

    Since May 2003, Blumenthal has written many pieces for Salon.com. He is also a regular columnist for the British newspaper The Guardian, and is a senior fellow for the New York University Center on Law and Security.

    In addition to The Clinton Wars, Blumenthal has authored such books as The Permanent Campaign: Inside the World of Elite Political Operatives (1980); The Rise of the Counter-Establishment: From Conservative Ideology to Political Power (1988); The Reagan Legacy (1988); Our Long National Daydream: A Political Pageant of the Reagan Era (1990); and Pledging Allegiance: The Last Campaign of the Cold War (1992).

    In 2004 Blumenthal made a $2,000 campaign contribution to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.


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