Clintons Can’t Fall Back On ‘Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy’

W. James Antle III Managing Editor
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Maybe Hillary Clinton is better equipped than Barack Obama to answer the 3 a.m. phone call after all. Under Obama, Iran can enrich uranium. The Clintons are enriched by uranium.

The Clintons are already invoking the usual defenses that have worked for them since the 1990s. There is nothing to see here. These are all distractions from the people’s business. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Don’t listen to the conservative lies.

Except, as Bill Clinton used to say, that old dog isn’t going to hunt anymore. You can write off “Clinton Cash” author Peter Schweizer as a conservative with an axe to grind, but this time the Clintons’ problems aren’t confined to the vast right-wing conspiracy. The Clintons have already prepared a three-page memo doing just that.

But Schweizer’s work has been vetted and expanded on by a slew of mainstream media outlets: The Washington Post, The New York Times, Reuters, Politico, Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal have all dropped bombshells just in the past two days.

That wasn’t the case in Troopergate and numerous other Clinton scandals that percolated in the conservative media in the 1990s. Whatever their merits, they were more easily dismissed because the lurid details often remained stuck in the right-wing ghetto.

Liberal columnist Jonathan Chait isn’t a hard lefty offended by the Clintons’ triangulation. He is a certifiably Clintonite mainstream liberal who started at The New Republic when it was the Clinton-era in-flight magazine of Air Force One. Yet he seems uninterested in being part of the in-flight magazine of Uranium One.

For Chait to write, “[T]he best-case scenario is bad enough: The Clintons have been disorganized and greedy,” isn’t like trotting out Bruce Bartlett or Kevin Phillips to criticize a Republican. It’s kind of a big deal, as the kids are saying these days.

Politico’s Dylan Byers quotes a Democratic strategist as saying the liberal and mainstream media pile-on “gives a VERY strong retort to the argument that the New Yorker said they were going to push… which is that this is a Fox News/Koch brothers-pushed story.”

That’s not going to stop the Clintons from using the conservative-bashing tactics that served them so well in past scandals because that’s all they know.

“The database Nexis reveals the first time anyone used the phrase ‘there’s nothing new here’ in relation to the Clintons was on Sept. 20, 1992, in an interview on CNN with candidate Bill’s spokesman, George Stephan­opoulos,” John Podhoretz observed in the New York Post.

Stephanopoulos was asked about allegations Bill had sought help from a senator concerning the draft. The story was indeed old, but it was also true, even if sometimes overstated.

In fact, the phrase “vast right-wing conspiracy” was first used by Hillary in an interview pushing back on the Monica Lewinsky charges, which turned out to be true.

The Clintons do perversely benefit from the public becoming inured to the steady drip of allegations against them.

But it’s going to be a lot harder to argue that liberal journalists are out to get Bill and Hillary, even if Howard Dean and other loyal courtiers may try.

Jo Becker, Mike McIntire, Jonathan Chait and Ron Fournier are not pre-conversion, “blinded by the right” David Brocks. And a lot of effort is going to be expended separating well-founded Clinton ethical concerns from the fantastical.

I’m under no illusions that a Republican candidate running in a general election against Hillary Clinton would be competing on a level playing field in terms of media coverage. Even now, Hillary is taking less flak for avoiding reporters than Rand Paul is for being testy while speaking to them.

But the full-time Clinton apologists are going to start sounding like Baghdad Bob denying the advancement of American forces in Iraq if they insist this is all old news.

The secrecy surrounding Hillary Clinton’s emails combined with shady foundation money is a legitimate story. The desire to report it may be vast, but it is neither right-wing nor a conspiracy.

W. James Antle III is managing editor of The Daily Caller and author of the book Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped? Follow him on Twitter.