The Clintons have been around for decades. But some media types have pulled total 180s on them.
Huffington Post editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington and National Enquirer columnist Dick Morris have switched sides since the 1990s, when Huffington was a Clinton-bashing conservative writer and Morris was a Clinton adviser.
Today, the Huffington-Morris ante seems pulled from an alternate universe, not merely another decade. Almost 20 years later, another Clinton is on the ballot (Hillary), but allegiances are reversed. Morris is working against the presumptive Democratic nominee, advising Republican Donald Trump and bashing Hillary Clinton in his new gig as a National Enquirer columnist. Huffington is editor-in-chief of the left-leaning Huffington Post, which appends this editor’s note to many
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Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.
Huffington even claims to be tuned in to the Clinton campaign these days. On MSNBC this week, she shared “what I’m hearing” about the former secretary of state’s possible running mate.
“Something very interesting I heard from two different sources [is] that the campaign is even looking at potentially bringing in a business leader,” Huffington said, countering conventional wisdom about Clinton’s consideration of politicians such as Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
The 2016 presidential campaign often feels like a flashback to the 1990s — largely because it is only natural, as Hillary Clinton seeks her husband’s old job, to review policies and events from the last time she occupied the White House. For her, the time warp involves touting the economic prosperity much of the country enjoyed during that period but also rehashing Bill Clinton’s infidelity and impeachment. For Trump, it means boasting about business successes while trying to reconcile his current conservatism (“I’m pro-life”) with previous, liberal positions (“I am very pro-choice”).
Last month, for instance, Stephanopoulos asked Clinton the following: “Do you believe that an individual’s right to bear arms is a constitutional right — that it’s not linked to service in a militia?” When Clinton offered a non-answer about the government’s right to “impose reasonable regulations,” Stephanopoulos refused to let her off the hook.
“That’s not what I asked,” he said. “I said, ‘Do you believe ... that the right to bear arms is a constitutional right?’ ”
“If it is a constitutional right, then it — like every other constitutional right — is subject to reasonable regulations,” Clinton replied.
Conservative media outlets, such as Breitbart News, Hot Air, the Daily Caller and the Washington Free Beacon, jumped on the exchange, slamming Clinton for wavering on the right to bear arms. Such a scenario — a Stephanopoulos inquiry providing fodder for the “vast right-wing conspiracy” (so to speak) — would have been inconceivable in the mid-’90s, when he was out front defending both Clintons at the height of the Whitewater scandal.
Not everything is backward, of course. Matt Drudge, who broke the Lewinsky story in 1998, is still a top Clinton antagonist.
But even that dynamic hasn’t been consistent throughout the past 20 years. When Hillary Clinton ran for president the first time, Drudge appeared to have become an admirer, as New York magazine reported in August 2007.
The one person Drudge seems to believe can lead is Hillary Clinton. Though Drudge often savages Hillary, he is convinced that she will make history, and he seems determined, in spite of himself, to empower her. HILLARY ON SURGE? “IT’S WORKING” was a recent lead headline. The Clinton scandals of yesteryear bore him, Drudge has said. Right-wing fans have begun to complain about the pattern, calling him “Hillary-obsessed.” What an irony that the gossip who almost destroyed Bill Clinton’s presidency might propel his wife to the Oval Office. “That House is going pink,” says Drudge.
Two months later, the New York Times reported that Hillary Clinton’s campaign had even begun leaking information to Drudge. Today, with Drudge cheering Trump, that’s hard to imagine.
What’s behind these wild swings? Morris says he became disenchanted by Clinton “when it became clear that she was hiring detectives to intimidate and blackmail the women who Bill was involved with.” That’s a charge the old Brock might have run with, but the new Brock’s Media Matters group has tried to discredit what it calls “Dick Morris’s implausible Hillary Clinton ‘blackmail’ scandal.”As I said, we’re living in an alternate universe.
Huffington wrote about her political conversion in her 2008 book, “Right is Wrong,” saying she was “seduced, fooled, blinded, bamboozled” by conservatism — particularly small-government principles.
In this election, Huffington hasn’t so much fallen in love with Hillary Clinton as concluded that the woman she described in 1998 as “the primary enabler of her husband’s sexual addiction” is now the nation’s primary salvation from “those frightening words”: President Trump.
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