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November 10, 2007

On the Road to the White House - Clinton Jujitsu

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past 15 years, you know all about how Bill Clinton is the most famous people-pleaser on the planet and about how politically savvy he and Hillary are. But, this is just too wacky:

Bill Clinton is never at a loss for company. When he's not globe-trotting or charming audiences for as much as $400,000 a speech, he's often schmoozing visitors in his suite of offices in Harlem. Last July, the former president sat down with a billionaire impressed with the William J. Clinton Foundation's campaign against AIDS in Africa. The two men chatted amiably over lunch for more than two hours, and the visitor pledged to write Clinton's foundation a generous check. But there was something unusual, if not plain weird, about the meeting. NEWSWEEK has learned that the billionaire so eager to endear himself to the former president was Richard Mellon Scaife—once the Clintons' archenemy and best-known as the man behind a "vast, right-wing conspiracy" that Hillary Clinton said was out to destroy them.

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The Arkansas Project largely came up empty, and most of the stories were ignored by all but the most avid Clinton antagonists. But one Scaife-backed conspiracy theory got widespread attention. In 1993, White House aide and Clinton friend Vince Foster was found dead of a gunshot wound in a park outside Washington, D.C. Three official investigations concluded the death was a suicide. Yet Scaife dollars helped promote assertions that Foster had been murdered—the not-so-subtle subtext being that the Clintons had something to do with it. Scaife hired Christopher Ruddy, a reporter who doggedly pursued the conspiracy theory in a Scaife newspaper, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Though discredited, the story resonated with people who believed Clinton was hiding dark secrets. Scaife and Ruddy later started Newsmax, a Web site and magazine that attacks their enemies and lauds their heroes.

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Whatever the reasons for Scaife's change of heart, it's not hard to figure out why the Clintons would embrace a former nemesis. As they prepared for Hillary's presidential run, the Clintons made quiet attempts to disarm, or at least neutralize, some of their most vocal opponents. Last year Hillary accepted an offer from Rupert Murdoch (who always hedges his bets) to host a fund-raiser for her Senate campaign. The New York Times reported that the Clinton camp has also made efforts to open a line of communication to blogger Matt Drudge, who has served as a conduit for anti-Clinton GOP leaks.

Yes, there is something to be said for neutralizing the opposition, not to mention, forgiving your enemies. But this just seems so transparently opportunistic it makes me wonder if there is any line that can't -- and won't -- be crossed in the quest for power. I guess ambition trumps all. Considering that there seems to be a stable of Democrats willing to vote with Republicans and sell-out the U.S. Constitution and human decency at a moment's notice, it's probably just business-as-usual and I should relax and forget about it. Everything's fine, doc, it only hurts when I breathe.

What's next? Bill and Hillary spending Saturday nights making hot spiced cider and almond sandies with Newt Gingrich? Bill and Hill hosting a birthday party for Ken Starr? The possibilities are endless. 

Posted by shoephone on November 10, 2007 at 11:49 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink

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