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The Right-Wing Clinton Crazies Are Back Again

The conservative media's unhinged response to Hillary Clinton's health woes are disturbing on many levels.
 
 
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At least most of them aren't snickering about the blood clot.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was recently hospitalized after doctors found a blood clot in her head, a condition that ABC News reported was "potentially 'life-threatening.'" The hospitalization came in the wake of the news in December that Clinton had suffered a concussion after catching a virus, becoming dehydrated, and fainting.

The news of Clinton's blood clot condition simply highlighted the cavalier and uncaring way her critics reacted to the concussion news, insisting it was fabricated to keep her from testifying before Congress about the terrorist attack in Benghazi. But the blood clot disclosure has done little to spark introspection or remorse among her detractors.  

Maybe they're still busy laughing about Clinton's head trauma?

It's true. That story was marked by an unusual amount of laughter and merriment among conservatives. It's not often (ever?) that news of a United States cabinet member suffering a concussion elicits widespread delight in partisan media offices. But that's what happened when the State Department revealed the facts about Clinton's condition: right-wing guffaws.

The unhinged concussion response seemed to mark the unofficial return of the Clinton Crazies, that marauding mindset among conservatives who spent the 90's launching endless attacks against the Clintons; vicious and wildly personal attacks that went far beyond partisan debate. (i.e. Accusations of killings and mass murder.)

With Bill Clinton out of office and Hillary Clinton retreating from domestic politics in her role as Secretary of State, the Clinton Crazies temporarily shelved their hate of the former First Couple and focused their misguided attention on President Obama and his family.

But with Hillary Clinton's overseas term coming to an end and growing speculation about her future political plans in America, we're witnessing the unsightly resurrection of the Clinton Crazies, or Clinton Derangement Syndrome. Now there seems to be a conservative competition to see who can be the most offensive while operating under the guise of "political debate."

What else explains the conservative media's decision to treat Clinton's head trauma as being side-splittingly funny? There's something very disturbing about how it coalesced around its strategy to make fun of her health. I'd suggest there's also something very distasteful about gleefully mocking the health of a woman in her mid-sixties.

But boy, Fox News' Laura Ingraham thought the story was a hoot:

Ingraham loved the tasteless "Immaculate Concussion" quip so much she went on The O'Reilly Factor that same night and shared it with a national television audience, delighting in the phrase. Host Bill O'Reilly couldn't contain his laughter. "I haven't heard that! That's good!" roared O'Reilly.

Still laughing, Ingraham responded, "Did she really have a concussion? Maybe she did. I mean, who knows."

In truth, it might be easier to list the Fox talkers who didn't laugh out loud while discussing Clinton's faltering health last month. On The Five, Dana Perino chortled when co-host Greg Gutfeld joked Clinton couldn't have a concussion since she'd been "ducking everything" regarding Benghazi. Later that same night, Sean Hannityshared a chuckle with Fox's Charles Krauthammer for mocking Clinton's "acute Benghazi allergy." (A "good line," Hannity assured his guest.) It was noteworthy that Fox host Greta Van Susteren went out of her way, via her blog, to distance herself from the "sarcastic" and "snarky" Fox News comments about Clinton's health.

The topic of Clinton's faltering condition became a running joke for weeks. Right up until the day the troubling blood clot news was revealed, National Review Online editor Jonah Goldberg was still making light of her condition:

In the December 31 issue of The Weekly Standard, readers were encouraged to laugh at the news of Clinton's head trauma. The magazine produced a parody in the form of a fake Washington Post sports page article, pretending Clinton was being tested for a concussion the way athletes are. (Apparently the topic of head injuries in general is one big joke at The Weekly Standard.)

Blogger and USA Today columnist Glenn Reynolds recently made sure to share with readers a photoshopped picture of Clinton (with her head attached to a burly man's body) that suggested she was "drunk as skunk" when she fell and suffered a concussion:

Reynolds also hyped the blatant lie that that Clinton had flown to a "Caribbean resort" for New Year's Eve.

Reynolds' baseless behavior was not unexpected. Two weeks earlier he had treated the concussion revelation as one big joke, writing, "HELP, I'VE FALLEN AND I CAN'T TESTIFY ABOUT BENGHAZI"

When Clinton's doctor recently announced a blood clot had been found during an exam, Reynolds quickly linked to right-wing conspiracist Ann Althouse, who in a pair of blog posts wondered if the "oddities" surrounding Clinton's health reports stemmed from "fakery." When critics lampooned her rumor mongering, Althouse insisted she'd been sponsoring "political debate" by raising baseless doubts about the Clinton story.

In the New York Times report about Clinton's blood clot, the newspaper quoted David Rothkopf, an acting Commerce Department under secretary in the Bill Clinton administration, who noted the heated politicization of Hillary Clinton's health. Beseeching common decency, Rothkopf urged partisans to stop the unseemly behavior and to just act like "human beings."

For the Clinton Crazies, that's not always an option.

Eric Boehlert is a senior fellow at Media Matters for America, and a former senior writer for Salon. Boehlert's first book, "Lapdogs: How The Press Rolled Over for Bush," was published in May. He can be reached at eboehlert@aol.com.

 
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