In 2003, the once and future inevitable Democratic presidential nominee, then New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, embarked on a book tour while taking stock of her near limitless ambitions. As has become her penchant, Clinton’s promotional tour for Living History quickly devolved into a self-pity session.
While promoting her book, Clinton took the time to address the “vast right-wing conspiracy” that had targeted her and her husband with impeachment and disbarment as a result of the former president’s decision to perjure himself.
“I think that these were obviously personal and private moments that unfortunately were made public for partisan, political purposes,” Clinton said, “a part of the ongoing politics of personal destruction that was so much a part of our country’s life and certainly our time in the White House.”
It was a perfectly Clintonian statement. No one practices the dark arts of personal destruction quite like the Clintons. One could go so far as to say that the former first family perfected the procedure.
The latest target of the Clinton’s preferred method of self-defense – assassinating the character and impugning the associations of their critics – is Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer. Initially, the book and the revelations within it that were republished in reputable journalistic outfits like The New York Times and The Washington Post elicited only silence from those directly connected to Hillary Clinton. “Now, with the book’s full release, Clinton’s team going all out, suggesting they don’t see the accusations as controversies that will burn themselves out, but rather as a fire they need to actively extinguish,” National Journal reported on Tuesday.
On Tuesday morning, Clinton’s campaign launched what it’s calling “The Briefing,” a new section of its website paired with videos and posts on other social media platforms, that aims to combat what an email to supporters describes as “whatever far-flung theories [Republicans] can find in order to try and distract from Hillary’s record of fighting for everyday Americans.”
In the 2.5-minute introductory YouTube video, Clinton press secretary Brian Fallon says the book is “full of sloppy research and attacks pulled out of thin air with no actual evidence.” Fallon goes through all the biggest allegations from the book, cutting to footage from various TV networks, all of which point out the lack of direct evidence or a “smoking gun.” (The new Clinton website also lists “10 Things You Should Know” about the book, linking to media coverage of various sections of it.)
“The bottom line is this: as secretary of State, Hillary Clinton made decisions based on her commitment to protecting America’s national security and standing up for freedom and dignity around the world, not the interests of donors to the Clinton Foundation,” Fallon says.
Even journalists have begun to recognize the familiar Clintonian practice of tearing down their critics personally in the effort to make them and their claims radioactive.
“I think the other thing to remember too we’ve been talking about this campaign to sort of character assassinate Peter Schweizer,” Bloomberg’s Joshua Green told the hosts of Morning Joe on April 23.
“I do think it is worth remembering the guy has written a very well regarded book about the Bushes. He wrote a book about insider trading in Congress that lead to the bipartisan Stock Act of 2012,” he averred. “He tends to kind of get smeared but I think it worth remembering this is a serious guy who has done serious work that has led to a serious article.
“You know, what I wonder is if the Clinton message machine ever decides to kind of recalibrate and dial it back a little bit because right now, and this isn’t all coming from the Clinton camp itself, but it comes from that orbit around them, where you have these people whose main goal is to misdirect and obfuscate every time there is this slightest bit of criticism about the Clinton’s leadership.” New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters pondered in an appearance on MSNBC’s Now with Alex Wagner.
“They are definitely misdirecting here,” he continued. “This is what Media Matters exists to do.”
Peter’s only mistake was to accept credulously the notion that MMFA or the other organizations in what he called Clinton’s “orbit” operate with any discretion or independence from The Center. It should be clear today that the institutions with a mission to protect Clinton had not gone rogue when they embarked on an overzealous defense of the former first lady in April.