BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The most tangible and politically significant (some have called it monumental) thing that came out of the conservative movement's unstinting preparation for Hillary Clinton to be the Democratic Party's standard-bearer in the 2008 presidential election was the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.
It was Citizens United's film attacking Hillary Clinton that was at the core of the Supreme Court's ruling.
Last year, I wrote about how the Citizens United case came to be:
In 2007, David Bossie's Citizens United was gearing up for what it was certain would be Clinton's historic run for the presidency. " For years, CU's toolbox had been filled with an assortment of material -- misinformation, disinformation, and egregious lies -- used to attack both President [Bill] Clinton and Hillary. Now CU was attempting to marshal the resources for the mother of all anti-Hillary hit pieces.
The controversial Bossie, president and Chairman of the Board of Citizens United, "acknowledged that he was inspired by the success of Michael Moore's films, saying that he '... saw the impact Moore was having. ... [and] realized the long-form documentary could be a powerful tool to deliver a political message.'
"Bossie and his partner, the veteran Swift Boater, Floyd Brown, came up with the idea of making a full-length documentary film about Hillary. The film would ... reveal all the secrets about her sordid past that the American public either had forgotten or did not know.
"The movie, titled 'Hillary: The Movie,' was set to 'explode onto the scene' Citizens United's web site proclaimed. Produced by Bossie, the author of the 'Hillary: The Politics of Personal Destruction,' the film contained more than 40 interviews 'with experts, opinion makers, and many of the people who personally locked horns with the Clintons.'
"Citizens United prepared several short ads for the film that were set to run on television as political advertisements.
"According to Esquire [magazine's Charles P.] Pierce, the 'film about Hillary Clinton ... was pretty much as spurious as most of the work [Bossie had] done in his entire career, and a court ruled that the advertising for the film violated existing campaign laws about 'electioneering' within 30 days of a primary. In 2004, Bossie and Citizens United had sued on precisely those grounds, arguing that ads for Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911 violated the same laws. He had lost that case. In the interim, he recast his organization as a legitimate filmmaking operation and so, when a lower court ruled against him, he was ready with the argument that convinced [Justice Anthony] Kennedy and four of his brethren.'"
The "vast right-wing conspiracy"
In a recent essay titled "Sure, They Love Her Now...," Esquire's Pierce pointed out that "most singularly honest moment in Hillary Clinton's singular political career was that moment on the Today show of January 27, 1998, when she suggested that 'the great story here, for anybody willing to find it, and write about it, and explain it, is this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president.'"
Coming off years -- dating back to her husband's days as governor of Arkansas -- of having to deal with organized and well-funded Clinton-haters, she went out on a limb with those gutsy remarks. She was subsequently pilloried from coast to coast, not only be the very same right wing "conspiracy" she had identified, but by mainstream commentators as well.
In the years leading up to the 2008 election, conservatives, convinced that she would win the nomination, was gearing up for another one of those battles of a lifetime. For right-wing organizations, pundits, columnists, radio talk show hosts, Republican Party funders, public relations outfits, and political consultants, this was familiar territory. Since the Clinton's first appeared on the political scene in Arkansas, Clinton bashing had become a lucrative and, despite the Right's best efforts, a long-lasting enterprise.
In 2008, when then-Senator Barack Obama was in a battle with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, I supported Obama. While I thought Clinton would be better equipped to handle all that the right wing would throw at whoever won the nomination, Obama appeared to be offering a way out of cynicism and disengagement; a vehicle for young people, especially minorities, to get involved in politics.
Certainly Team Obama, in part made up of politically tested and battle-hardened campaign veterans, wouldn't shy away from engaging the right head on. I was wrong about that. Many of the post-election attacks on Obama -- from accusations that Obama was born in Kenya to him being a Muslim -- eventually became fodder for late-night comedians, but for five years, the right has always found another avenue for its attacks.
And, as with its multi-decade efforts to derail the Clintons, despite the Right's best efforts in 2012, Obama handily won re-election.
While Obama and Clinton were fighting it out in the primaries, most right-wing groups, convinced that Clinton would emerge victorious, were mobilizing against Clinton.
The right had fought the Clintons tooth and nail for decades. In 2000, when Hillary went out on her own and ran for the Senate from New York State, "Hillary hunting" became a reliable right-wing mantra.
By 2005, in an attempt to thwart her re-election, long-time Republican Party political consultant Arthur Finkelstein's launched "Stop Her Now." The head of Arthur J. Finkelstein & Associates, aimed to raise 10 million dollars with "Stop Her Now."
"Stop Her Now" was eventually turned over to Republican Party political activist and businessman Richard H. Collins, who was a contributor to Rudy Giuliani's failed attempt to win the Republican Party's 2008 presidential nomination. Collins tried a different tack. Instead of bashing Clinton with unremitting vitriol, his website, rechristened "Stop Her Now -- Rescuing America from the radical ideas of Hillary Clinton" -- used humor and satire to expose the "real truth about Hillary Clinton." The site had a daily blog and featured 'The Hillary Show,' a weekly video lampooning the candidate and her Democratic Party colleagues.
In January 2010, The Nation magazine editorialized: "The Citizens United campaign finance decision by ... is a dramatic assault on American democracy, overturning more than a century of precedent in order to give corporations the ultimate authority over elections and governing. This decision tips the balance against active citizenship and the rule of law by making it possible for the nation's most powerful economic interests to manipulate not just individual politicians and electoral contests but political discourse itself."
If Hillary Clinton chooses to runs for the presidency in 2016, she will once again confront what she had identified in 1998 as "this vast right-wing conspiracy." There will not only be attacks on her for the way she handled the situation in Benghazi, but count on Bill Clinton-era scandals to be resuscitated. And there is no question that the funders who have supported the Right's decades-old quest to bring down Hillary Clinton, will be on the front lines in 2016.