Reporter Jonathan Allen has written a surprisingly candid piece on the Clinton Rules
. Why do the Clintons (unlike, say, the Bushes) remain continually pestered by pseudojournalists who love to whip up pseudoscandals? Allen himself once wrote a book about Hillary -- a book which I have not read. He admits that if money were his sole motivator, his volume would have taken a harsher tone...
I wanted to sell books, of course. But the easier way to do that — proven over time — is to write as though the Clintons are the purest form of evil. The same holds for daily reporting. Want to drive traffic to a website? Write something nasty about a Clinton, particularly Hillary.
This is not always true, at least not on my low and disreputable level of the blogosphere. My humble blog's traffic remained pretty high throughout 2008, when I took a strongly anti-Obama stance, and thus became a de facto
Hillary supporter. But my feelings toward her changed during her tenure as Secretary of State. In recent times, quite a few posts critical of Hillary have appeared in these cyber-pages -- and to be honest, those posts have alienated many readers.
(That'd be something to worry about if this blog were monetized, which it isn't.)
My point is this: Allen is right -- but only to a point. An anti-Hillary article will fetch eyeballs if and only if you criticize her for bullshit
But if you critique her embrace of neoconservatism, no "respectable" source will link to your words. No-one will quote you. No-one will have anything pleasant to say about you.
Why? Because both the right and the left are united in their admiration for the neoconservative paradigm, even though only a few are willing to embrace the actual term "neoconservative." Maybe admiration
is the wrong word: For mainstream writers, neoconservatism has become part of the very air they breathe. To them, anyone who seeks a different atmosphere must be a creature from another planet.
You certainly can never expect a mainstream writer like Allen to question the dominant paradigm. That task is left to alien freaks like yours truly.
So here are the Clinton Rules, as codified by Jonathan Allen, an apparently-repentant former follower of those rules (and thanks to Digby
for the distillation):
1) Everything, no matter how ludicrous-sounding, is worthy of a full investigation by federal agencies, Congress, the "vast right-wing conspiracy," and mainstream media outlets
2) Every allegation, no matter how ludicrous, is believable until it can be proven completely and utterly false. And even then, it keeps a life of its own in the conservative media world.
3) The media assumes that Clinton is acting in bad faith until there's hard evidence otherwise.
4) Everything is newsworthy because the Clintons are the equivalent of America's royal family.
5) Everything she does is fake and calculated for maximum political benefit.
First, at no point does Allen make a serious attempt to answer his own question: Why
did these rules come into being, and why do so many follow them? The real answer, I feel certain, involves dollar signs. Allen hints at this reality (in the bit I have quoted above), but I think that the financial carrots and sticks are even more blatant than he lets on.
Second, how should Hillary critics of my
persuasion respond to all of this?
I always have defended the Clintons whenever they were subjected to ludicrous, partisan attacks based on nonsense. (Did you know that the right is now claiming that Hillary plans to wage a war on Christianity?
) And I will continue to do so.
But I remain infuriated by Hillary's "Friends of Syria" meetings, which set the stage for the current civil war in that country. (That civil war, in turn, created ISIS and empowered Al Qaeda). Her embrace of the Kagan clan makes me want to vomit. The money she takes from Haim Saban worries the hell out of me.
When it comes to Syria, to Libya, to the entire neocon hijacking of the Arab Spring, Hillary is on the wrong side of history. Something similar could be said of her attitude toward TPP and other dangerous trade agreements.
Her performance as Secretary of State was nothing short of disastrous. Yet many of the charges leveled against her have been nothing short of bizarre.
As I see it, the only valid response is two-fold: We must be forthright in our condemnation of the bullshit accusations against the Clintons -- while at the same time, we must be unafraid to discuss the real
problems with Hillary. We must talk about the things that neither the Limbaugh-listening rightwingers nor the NYT-reading "Whole Foods liberals" want to talk about it.
This bifurcated stance will not be popular.
Most people who follow politics want to root for one side in a game of shirts-vs-skins. Some of you who hate Hillary's Syria policy get angry when I defend her against the latest bullshit pseudoscandals trumped up by the right-wing propaganda machine. Conversely, some of you who enjoy reading posts which shred those trumped-up charges can't understand why I find Hillary's stance on Syria to be so appalling.
A writer who receives fire from multiple directions is standing in the correct place.