The plot to 'gut' Hillary Clinton: dark arts and cheap journalism
Murder, drug trafficking, lesbianism, an undisclosed brain tumour – can any of this really stick?
HERE we go. The guns of the Republicans’ ‘dark arts’ department are sounding in the opening barrage against Hillary Clinton’s still-to-be-launched 2016 presidential campaign.
This week’s National Enquirer, the supermarket tabloid, announces that a cabal of right-wing plutocrats has assembled a war chest of $500 million to “gut Hillary” at any price.
They are said to be paying snoops to dig up dirt so dirty that Hillary will back down before she even throws her hat in the ring.
Here’s a teaser, already available as a campaign button and bumper sticker: 'Ready Hillary for Prison 2016', and '2016 Hillary for President: Prison or POTUS?'
So far, it seems, the snoops are having trouble scooping fresh poop from soil so ardently sifted since 1992 when Bill Clinton first ran for the White House.
This is all the Enquirer can report: “Sources say operatives are digging up details on at least eight Hillary 'secrets'! They will also try to use a variety of evidence to rip the covers off Hillary’s torrid love affairs with both men and women, according to insiders.”
This is cheap journalism: if you have not got the goods yourself, you report that others are looking for them.
But the Enquirer goes on to list the eight 'secrets' being probed. They are not new.
#1 to #3 concern the first Clinton White House scandal, 'Travelgate', which involved alleged shenanigans at the White House travel office and the mysterious death by shooting of Clinton lawyer Vince Foster.
#4 is Hillary’s alleged lesbian peccadillos. Have the snoops found a witness to a “steamy embrace” in the West Wing?
#5 re-introduces the affair of the blow-job administered to Bill Clinton by intern Monica Lewinsky, suggesting that Hillary masterminded a campaign to smear Lewinsky and her family, had a “revenge” tryst herself, and called the intern a “narcissistic loony toon”.
#6 goes all the way back to one of the more splendid Clinton smears, claiming that when Bill was Governor of Arkansas in the 1980s both he and Hillary were mixed up with a cocaine cartel which landed drugs at a rural airport, and murdered people.
#7 resurrects the story that Hillary tried to talk to the spirit of former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. No kidding.
#8 is a “shocking medical secret”, or rather a spin - without evidence so far – on Hillary's fainting spell in December 2012, which left her concussed and raised questions about her fitness at age 66 to run for the presidency. The 'dark arts' plan is to spread rumours that she has an undisclosed brain tumour. Given the Clintons' proven resilience to scandal, this seems a bit like trying to sink a battleship with a pea-shooter.
One of these eight 'secrets' just might have legs, however, particularly for a new generation of voters too young to have paid attention in the 1990s. The sad death of Vince Foster, Arkansas lawyer, old friend of the Clintons and rumoured one-time lover of Hillary’s, has never been fully explained.
He was found dead in a Washington park after apparently shooting himself in the head. Was he murdered? No fingerprints were found on the nearby gun, and no bullet was recovered, suggesting he had been dumped in the park after dying elsewhere. If it was suicide, why? If he was murdered, was it at the behest of the Clintons? If so,why?
The snoops of the dark arts are now said to be tracking, or even to have scored, two crucial letters “missing” from Foster's White House office safe after his death. One, contents unknown, was to the then Attorney General, Janet Reno.
Foster was said to have been depressed to find himself fending off the barrage of allegations hurled at the Clintons, with the inference that he knew them to be true. Does that explain suicide? The favoured spin from the 'Clinton-haters' has always been that Foster knew too much, and had to be got rid of.
The only named source in the Enquirer’s article is Marinka Peschmann, a ghost-writer who had a bestseller with the Hollywood producer Robert Evans’s memoir The Kid Stays in the Picture, later turned into a movie.
Peschmann is now a “freelance investigative journalist” who has written two anti-Hillary books, The Whistleblower: How the Clinton White House Stayed in Power to Reemerge in the Obama White House and on the World Stage (punchy titles aren't her strong point) and Following Orders: The Death of Vince Foster, Clinton White House Lawyer. It is on Peschmann's website that the 'Ready Hillary for Prison' buttons and bumper stickers are for sale.
The Enquirer uses material from Peschmann's books alleging that the Reno letter would be a “smoking gun” that proves that Hillary, without proper authority, ordered the 1993 FBI/ATF raid on the Branch Davidian religious cult at Waco, Texas, which resulted in the deaths of 74 men, women and children.
Peschmann allegedly told The Enquirer:"The orders to raid Waco were from Hillary, but Janet Reno took the fall, and Vince Foster was devastated by what happened. I’m sure those documents were destroyed. [But] if copies were to emerge today, they could destroy Hillary.”
Peschmann used her website yesterday both to promote her books and to distance herself from the 'Plot to Destroy Hillary'. However, she wrote: "I hope [the plot] is true because I could use some back-up getting the info on Hillary out that is documented in my books…The fact is no dirty tricks are required when it comes to Hillary - the truth is damaging enough.”
Hmmm… As 2016 looms, Peschmann might like to research the case of David Brock.
Brock was the star investigator of the ‘Clinton-haters’ and as a ‘journalist’ he notched up a formidable string of scoops just when Clinton scandals were among the hottest stories on earth.
He broke the Whitewater story and his cover article for yhe American Spectator, His Cheating Heart, triumphantly introduced Bill Clinton the serial adulterer. The magazine’s circulation rose from 70,000 to over 300,000.
But in July, 1997, Brock wrote an article for the magazine Esquire, headlined Confessions of a Right-Wing Hit Man, in which he recanted much of what he had written previously, criticised his own “reporting methods” and admitted that he had been part of the right-wing plot, the Arkansas Project, to bring down the Clintons.
In a second article for Esquire, he offered a formal apology to the Clintons. He has since written two books detailing the media manipulations and falsehoods of the campaign he spearheaded.
The Enquirer, in its own way, is fun and sometimes even right. Even if its story of a plot against Hillary was dreamed up in a bar, there is certain to be a well-funded campaign to smear her. But why should we believe a word from Peschmann or any other of Brock’s “right wing road warriors” sure to cash in on 2016?