Joe Conason: GOP's Clinton conspiracies may backfire
With the happy news that Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky expect their first child later this year, the Clinton family can anticipate warm good wishes from most Americans — and a less uplifting response from all of the usual suspects.
The inane, but mostly harmless, speculation from the pundit class already has begun. How will Hillary Rodham Clinton’s prospective future as a grandmother, they ask, affect her potential candidacy for the presidency? (Not at all, except in the minds of the political geniuses who have never noticed that most presidents and many candidates were grandfathers.) Even more inanely, a prominent columnist suggested on television that her daughter’s announcement might actually be a scheme to “soften” Hillary’s image and improve voters’ opinions of her.
It is true, of course, that Bill and Hillary Clinton have persistently and sometimes publicly urged their daughter to produce a grandchild, in that slightly kidding, wholly serious way that almost all parents do with their married offspring. It is not true — except in the deranged fantasies of the minority of Clinton haters in the press and on the political right — that any woman becomes pregnant in order to advance a parent’s presidential campaign.
Indeed, like everything else the Clintons do — or that merely happens to them — Chelsea’s impending motherhood is fodder for the perverse imagination of their critics. In the bizarre universe inhabited by such people, the Clintons are capable only of political calculation and conspiracy, rather than the range of human behaviors and emotions that all of us experience. These weird projections have always told us little about the Clintons and everything about the character of adversaries who don’t hesitate to fabricate nonsense from nothingness.
Consider the latest moronic episode in the annals of the Hillary conspiracy starring a mentally disturbed woman who hurled a shoe at the former secretary of state during a speech. Within hours, a post on the Fox News website of “media analyst” Bernard Goldberg claimed that the shoe thrower had been inspired (paid?) by the Hillary camp to make her seem more presidential — like George W. Bush, who once had to dodge shoes thrown by an angry Muslim protester.
Although Goldberg has long posed as a journalism expert, his site continues to host this absurd accusation without the slightest evidence. And naturally, Rush Limbaugh and Herman Cain, among others, parroted the “shoe-truther” canard on talk radio and Twitter. The crafty Limbaugh went on to offer his own theory about the real motive for the shoe tossing.
“I know these people so well,” he said, referring to the Clintons. “I just do not attach much genuineness to them at all and I don’t know why anybody would be throwing a shoe at Hillary unless, maybe it’s an attempt to make the Benghazi people look like nuts and lunatics and wackos.”
Of course, a crazy person just might do something crazy without being inspired by politics at all. The lady who threw that shoe had previously disrupted legal proceedings against James Holmes, the Colorado theater shooter, because she claimed he had “entered” her mind through “subliminal messaging.” But that is just another annoying fact, of the kind that the Hillary paranoia-mongers, both respectable and disreputable, have long since learned to ignore.
Perhaps we should be relieved that the Clinton conspiracy industry is no longer marketing allegations of murder and cocaine trafficking to its credulous customers, of whom there still appear to be millions. Strange speculation about shoes and babies seems almost benign compared with the past products peddled by this same gang. But so long as Hillary may run to make history as the nation’s first woman president — and so long as she trounces every possible Republican opponent in voter surveys, as she does now — the stream of salacious garbage will swell.
Will her adversaries ever realize how often these tactics have boomeranged? They ought to listen to Bill Clinton: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result.”
Joe Conason is a nationally syndicated columnist.