Donald Trump was the one who brought up libel suits at an earlier stage of the campaign. He stated that, as president, he would rewrite the libel laws to make it easier for guys like him to sue anyone who writes words he does not like.
At the time, I wondered if he understood that Congress
, not the President, makes laws. Did he intend to become a dictator?
Still, we do have libel laws on the books, and Donald Trump has made use of them in the past to intimidate hostile biographers. Not too long ago, Trump -- quite justifiably -- used legal threats to force retractions from publications which had spread stories that Melania was once an escort.
The Clintons have never reached for this weapon, although they have had plenty of justification for doing so. The single most infuriating aspect of Clintonism is their tendency to respond to lies and insults with "Thank you sir; may I have another?"
No matter how absurd the calumny, the Clintons refuse to comment; they always presume that the electorate is smart and fair, and will sort things through. Their "never rebut lies" stance is the reason why the congressional elections of 1994 were so disastrous.
It's also why propaganda pieces like Clinton Cash
have managed to convince the public that the Clinton Foundation is a slush fund, not a charity from which the Clintons derive no personal benefit. Not long ago, Bill Clinton belatedly made the rounds of various teevee shows, explaining what the Foundation actually does. But even on those occasions, he remained supernaturally above-it-all, refusing to bash his foes or to toot his own horn too loudly. He remained serene in the proposition that the public will figure things out for themselves.
No. They won't.
You have to spell things out, using raw and emotional language. You have to tweet like Trump. The Clintons could stand to do a little more
in the way of angry tweeting at 3 a.m.
Perhaps middle class people with college degrees and office jobs have some ability to put two-and-two together, but the folks who make burgers at Dairy Queen need to have everything dumbed down to the level of professional wrestling.
When Bill Clinton went on that "Clinton Foundation Defense Tour," he needed to say something a lot more Trumpian. Something like this: "A lot of people have told a bunch of goddamned lies about our charity. It is, in fact, the most important and effective charity in the world today, and maybe in the history of mankind. We've helped millions of people stay alive, and we don't make a dime from it. And you have to ask yourselves -- what kind of monsters
want to shut that down? What kind of monsters want all those people to die?"
As high school coaches are wont to say: "DEE
Of course, the best defense is a strong offense. One strong offense would be to use the Trumpian tactic of the lawsuit.
Not long ago, I suggested that Hillary Clinton should sue the National Enquirer, which had published a lie-filled cover story claiming that her "real" medical report indicated liver damage from heavy drinking. The same publication was nearly put out of business years ago, when Carol Burnett sued on similar grounds. Why shouldn't Hillary Clinton finish what Burnett started? Utterly destroying
American Media (the parent company of the National Enquirer) would offer a wake-up call to the rest of the right-wing media mendacity machine.
Another possible target: Alex Jones.
Jones reaches millions of people. He's more influential than many of us care to admit. And he publishes demonstrable lies all the time.
The biggest current lie is that Alicia Machado, the former Miss Universe referenced by Hillary during the debate, became an adult film actress after her time as pageant queen. Even if she had
, I don't see how Trump's boorish comments -- made when she still wore the crown -- would be in any way excused. But the truth of the matter is that she did not become an adult film star
. (An "actress" who goes by the name Angel Dark bears some resemblance to her.)
The story was pushed, in part, by Alex Jones and Trump's long time friend (and human tapeworm) Roger Stone
. Apparently, it originated with The Daily Caller
If I were Machado, I would see grounds for a lawsuit in all of this. If the Clintons give her the money to pursue a case -- good
In general, the American public is sickened by the current low state of our national discourse. In my view, libel actions are the only
way to force people on both sides to refrain from outright defamation and lies. Can you think of any other way to convince the propagandists to clean up their act?
When the "Miss Piggy" comment came up during the debate, Trump's go-to response was to slam Rosie O'Donnell. A total non-sequitur. Yes, I know that Trump and O'Donnell don't like each other, but what the hell did she have to do with Alicia Machado? Can anyone explain Trump's thought process here?