The right's 1990s problem: Hillary Clinton's unique ability to provoke wingnut lunacy

Raising old Clinton scandals doesn't hurt Hillary as much as it exposes the insanity of folks like Laura Ingraham

Published May 7, 2014 4:50PM (EDT)

Laura Ingraham
Laura Ingraham

If Hillary Clinton runs for president, will Republicans be able to control themselves? There is an approximately 0 percent chance that they will, but let's give them the benefit of the doubt and round it up to 1 percent, just to be sporting.

Tim Miller, who'll be running the new "anti-Hillary PAC" America Rising, recently divulged to Talking Points Memo the group's strategy for introducing newer voters to the dark side of the Clinton White House:

"A huge portion of the electorate that's going to be her target don't remember the Clinton administration at all," Tim Miller, who's heading an anti-Hillary PAC called America Rising, told TPM recently. "A lot of the negative stuff about the Clinton era has congealed into like a joke or a historical blip, but people don't remember the details."

"While that's not going to be central to our nominee's campaign against Hillary, what was happening in 1994," he continued, "I do think it's important for that to be part of the discussion about her, so that the folks who are getting information about 2016 don't have a clouded vision, a nostalgic vision of the Clinton era."

But the way things are going, so far, it's more likely that, in trying to dredge up certain negative impressions of Hillary Clinton from the 1990s, the Republican Party will instead be raising the flip-side of that: the unmatched ability of Hillary Clinton, through no action of her own, to elicit pure paranoid insanity from the right wing.

I bring this up because there are a couple of "interesting" instances of this Hillaryan power on display recently.

A few weeks ago, someone threw a shoe at Hillary Clinton during one of her speeches. Rather than just accepting the possibility that an angry human being who dislikes Hillary Clinton could've plotted this simple act on her own, a "theory" of sorts developed that, perhaps, Hillary's people may have arranged it. This is how those Clintons operate, you know. But it is unlikely, absent any evidence, that Hillary Clinton orchestrated an act of violence against herself. Because that would be strange? And unnecessary? But can it be ruled out??

In other recent news, Hillary and Bill Clinton's sole child, 34-year-old married Chelsea Clinton, announced that she and her husband were expecting a baby. Now some would say that procreation is a common occurrence among married couples in their early 30s. Others would say that this was a deliberate ploy to help Hillary Clinton's campaign, by making her a nice grandmother type lady. Others say being a nice grandmother type lady would make Hillary Clinton look old, though! Will we ever know the truth about Chelsea Clinton's political thinking when she conceived? These Clintons, hmm.

What else, what else ... oh, Sarah Palin wonders if Chelsea's pregnancy will make Hillary Clinton become pro-life? That's a weird thing to say; if pregnancy was going to make Hillary Clinton change her abortion politics, it probably would have happened already when she herself was pregnant with Chelsea.

Which brings us to the latest, spectacular instance of "Hillary Clinton existing somewhere and Republicans going insane over that fact": the comments of Lynne Cheney, who was once the second lady of the United States of America.

You may have read on the Internet yesterday that Monica Lewinsky has penned an essay for Vanity Fair about her affair with Bill Clinton and her life afterward. In all likelihood, Hillary Clinton would have preferred that Monica Lewinsky stay silent. For a couple of reasons: It raises the Clintons' rather unsavory efforts to tarnish her during the scandal, and it also probably brings up some painful memories for Hillary Clinton of when her husband cheated on her with a White House intern.

On the other hand ... maybe Hillary Clinton and her people orchestrated Monica Lewinsky writing at length in a national magazine about her affair with Bill Clinton? Sure, sounds about right, says Lynne Cheney:

The wife of former Vice President Dick Cheney says she thinks the Clintons might have pushed the Monica Lewinsky Vanity Fair story to “get that story out of the way.”

“I really wonder if this isn’t an effort on the Clintons’ part to get that story out of the way,” Lynne Cheney said during an interview on “The O’Reilly Factor” Tuesday night. Would Vanity Fair publish anything of Monica Lewinsky that Hillary Clinton wouldn’t want in Vanity Fair?”

Guest host Laura Ingraham responded that the theory “makes perfect sense, and I’m really mad I didn’t think of it first.”

Cheney said that releasing the story in 2014 would allow Clinton to run for president and say the story is “old news” once the 2016 presidential campaign kicks into full gear.

One would think that, even if Monica Lewinsky hadn't written this piece, Hillary Clinton could still refer to the story as "old news" since it will literally be a ~20-year-old story in 2016. That story "got out of the way" back in the 1990s when it was the sole story the political media talked about for several years, culminating in the impeachment of the president. When Ingraham says the theory "makes perfect sense, and I'm really mad I didn't think of it first," it's a) the most hilarious possible response to Lynne Cheney's comments and b) a lie, because she definitely thought of it, since Hillary Clinton's existence makes people like Laura Ingraham think really strange things.

Here's some free advice for those, both Democrat and Republican, who wish to challenge Hillary Clinton in the next presidential contest: There are other things to look at that have the benefit of being reasonable, relevant and timely. The Clintons' notorious coziness with donors has opened the door to a wide array of quid pro quo possibilities involving the Clinton family foundation, for example. Look into that stuff! Because trying to bring up the worst of Hillary Clinton in the 1990s tends instead to bring up the worst of Hillary Clinton's critics in the 1990s. It seems like an easy choice between interesting, new, possibly fruitful revelations or shooting pumpkins.

By Jim Newell

Jim Newell covers politics and media for Salon.

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