Opinion: Streisand lends her voice to Clinton


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It’s no surprise that Hillary Clinton’s ever-vigilant campaign would unveil a celebrity endorsement today -- an announcement that might distract attention from the latest developments in Oprah Winfrey’s high-profile embrace of Barack Obama.

What is surprising, at least to readers of Carl Bernstein’s recent biography of Clinton, is that the name rolled out by her presidential campaign would be Barbra Streisand.

Given Streisand’s longtime interest in and commitment to feminist causes, her affinity for Clinton is obvious. Still, according to Bernstein’s book, Streisand was at the center of a major marital spat between the former first lady and her husband.

The scene is spring 1993, shortly after Bill Clinton has assumed the presidency. Hillary Clinton has just returned to Washington after two weeks in Little Rock where her father, Hugh Rodham, was hospitalized with a stroke and near death. ‘Upon her return,’ Bernstein writes in ‘A Woman in Charge,’ she ‘found the White House in disarray.... She was frustrated, sad, and drained.’


Bernstein continues: ‘To make matters worse, Hillary learned that while she had been tending to her father on his deathbed, Bill had taken Barbra Streisand ... and his mother to the annual Gridiron Club dinner (a Washington institution at which the Washington press corps salutes itself and the president). Streisand had boasted about sleeping in the Lincoln Bedroom. Soon after, Hillary reportedly ordered Streisand banned from the White House (on the grounds that, being unmarried, it would be ...

unseemly for her and her then-fiance to stay together in the presidential mansion). Members of the press accompanying Clinton on his jog the following morning noticed that he had a deep scratch along his jaw. [Spokesperson] Dee Dee Myers explained to reporters that Clinton had cut himself shaving. But she, like many of the reporters, came to believe the wound had been inflicted by Hillary in her anger over the Streisand invitation at a time when her father was dying.’

For the most part, Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been successful in allaying voter concerns that her candidacy would too often rekindle memories of the personal traumas that marked her husband’s two terms. But as the Streisand story illustrates, there are times when such recollections are inevitable.

Streisand’s endorsement statement, released by the Clinton camp, begins: ‘Madame President of the United States ... it’s an extraordinary thought. We truly are in a momentous time, where a woman’s potential has no limitations.’ You can read the rest of it here.

In terms of her checkbook, Streisand has spread the wealth around. Campaign finance records show that she gave $2,300 -- the maximum for the primary campaign -- not only to Clinton, but to Obama and John Edwards. She also kicked in $1,000 to Chris Dodd.

UPDATE: Streisand’s own website includes her endorsement announcement. Meanwhile, in the top item in her ‘Statements’ section, she does her part to promote increased voter participation by single women.

As she notes, out of about 47 million single women who are eligible to vote, about 20 million have not been casting ballots. Says the item: ‘Think about that for a moment: That’s a lot of people. That’s a lot of power.’


She’s on the same page there with the Clinton campaign, which sees a greater turnout within this demographic as one of the main factors that could propel her to victory -- both in the primary campaign and the general election.

-- Don Frederick