"Trump took out a field that couldn’t criticize him on issues because they fundamentally agreed with him." —Hillary on the GOP primary
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) May 19, 2016
Tom Junod, in Esquire — “The modern, extremist right was pretty much invented in opposition to her (and her husband). Now it’s up to her (alone) to stop it”:
… Of course, she sounded paranoid back when she first said it—participants in apocalyptic battles always sound paranoid when they first say they’re participants in apocalyptic battles. They sound especially paranoid when they answer a question in apocalyptic terms when the question was really about, well, blowjobs. This was a long time ago. This was back in 1998. Bill Clinton was the president of the United States of America. Hillary Clinton was the First Lady. He’d offended people by being a resourceful rascal. She’d offended people by saying something about cookies. They’d both offended people by trying and failing to bring about universal health care and by trying (and sort of failing) to allow gays to serve openly in the military. They’d been under investigation for years for something they’d supposedly done in Arkansas when, really, everyone knew the investigation was about sex—and secrets. He’d been accused of rape in the nascent right-wing press; she’d been accused of murder; and now they were finally caught. He had a secret, indeed—he’d had sex with a young woman in the White House and he’d testified, under oath, that he hadn’t. He had sinned all right; he had sinned against her, his wife, so that now even she couldn’t defend him. But she did. And she defended him by inveighing against them—against the “vast right-wing conspiracy.”
She sounded a little crazy. She sounded guilty of, at the very least, bad faith. Except that what she was saying turned out to be true—there really was an obscurely wealthy man, Richard Mellon Scaife, bankrolling the attacks against her and her husband; there really was a right-wing media spawned by structural changes overtaking the news business, and it had found, in the Clintons, the template for every story that was to follow. Her only error was a matter of language. She used the word vast to describe what she faced. It wasn’t vast, yet—
It is now. Nearly 30 years later, Richard Mellon Scaife has evolved into the Koch brothers, the then-fledgling right-wing media now claims the biggest and most powerful cable-news network among its ranks, and the money unleashed by the Citizens United decision has conjured a ring of super PACs organized specifically against her candidacy. The vast right-wing conspiracy is still here, and yet—and here’s the thing—so is she. The vast right-wing conspiracy has outlasted everybody but her. From the start, the attacks on her have had a tendency to resolve themselves in the most mundane terms—the Whitewater investigation turned out to be about a husband lying about infidelity; the Benghazi investigation turned out to be about, of all things, Sidney Blumenthal. But that doesn’t mean that both sides haven’t known the stakes all along. She’s always chosen to fight on metaphysical ground; she’s always defended herself cosmically because she’s been attacked cosmically, and so she’s lived to fight another day. But now that day is here. She helped create the modern right wing; the modern right wing helped create her; and now there is no place for them to go except at each other. The 2016 election is nothing less than the climactic event of the last three decades of American politics, and—it’s an amazing and scary thing to be able to write these words without irony—the future of the Free World lies in the balance…
It wasn’t supposed to be her. It was supposed to be him. It was supposed to be Barack Obama—he was supposed to defeat the partisan forces in which she was ensnared by transcending them altogether. She is not a transcendent figure. She does not pretend to be. She does not even want to be. When she ran against him for the Democratic nomination in 2008, her supporters believed that he was naive; his, that she was cynical. Her supporters turned out to be right. “Obama came to Washington saying there’s no red America, there’s no blue America,” says one of Hillary Clinton’s close friends. “That was just wrong. There’s a battle going on over who the country works for. It’s going to be a pitched battle, because people don’t give up power easily. They’re not going to roll over. You have to win the argument, and Hillary knows that.”
She has always known that, and now she has a chance to prove it. The election of 2008 was supposed to be epochal; it was not. The election of 2012 was supposed to be decisive; it was not. The president who was supposed to heal us only showed us the depth of our wounds; the country that congratulated itself for electing a black man to its highest office now stands riven by its most ancient and primal resentments and hatreds; the right wing that seemed outflanked by history in 2008 and demographics in 2012 has doubled down on unrepentant extremism. And the only person who can stop its ascendancy—who can, in the words of a close advisor, “break its back”—turns out to be the person the right wing was designed to destroy.
They know it, too: the Republican candidates. Even before Donald Trump unsettled the race and unhinged the rhetoric, they measured how far they could go by how far they could go in their hostility toward Hillary Clinton. In one debate after another, they tried to prove their toughness to Republican voters by saying tough things about a woman they knew Republican voters feared and despised. Chris Christie accused her of supporting “the systemic murder of children” and vowed to “prosecute” her should he be given the opportunity to debate her. Carly Fiorina called herself “Hillary Clinton’s worst nightmare.” Marco Rubio, nearly trembling with his own sense of righteousness, flatly called her “a liar.” And Trump bragged that his contributions to the Clinton Foundation empowered him to compel her attendance at his wedding, the implication being that he and he alone was strong enough to make Hillary kneel. She was their historical enemy, and so she was the foundation for what their campaigns would become. A presidential race in which all candidates understood that there was nothing too extreme they could say about Hillary Clinton evolved into a race in which they realized that there was nothing too extreme they could say about anything or anybody at all…
Much more, including video, at the link.
Again: beware the creeping normalization of Trump. Suggesting an ex-POTUS had someone killed w/o evidence: not ok in the 1990s, not ok now.
— Brendan Nyhan (@BrendanNyhan) May 24, 2016