5 Wacky Conspiracy Theories From the Right About Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton may have just kicked off her nascent presidential campaign last week, but the vast archipelago of conservative haters and conspiracists that have chased the Clintons since they were Arkansas’s most formidable power couple has been revving its engine for years in preparation. Forget about the scandals of the 90s like cattle futures and Whitewater, though those are likely to get a workout at some point in the long campaign ahead. Now the right has a whole new batch of molehills to try and make into mountains. Here are five of the most fun/soul-crushing conspiracy stories we will be cry-laughing about for the next year and a half.
Are we really supposed to believe that a 65-year-old woman dehydrated by the flu might faint, hit her head, give herself a concussion, and then two weeks later suffer a related complication? That was the question making the rounds in late 2012 and well into 2013, most prominently on Fox News and Glenn Beck’s BlazeTV.
Recall that in December of 2012, three months after the deaths of four Americans during the attack in Benghazi, Clinton cancelled testifying in front of two Congressional committees holding hearings on the tragedy. The reason was simple enough: While fighting the flu, she had suffered a concussion when she became dehydrated and fainted, hitting her head on something at her home in Chappaqua, New York. Because of the injury, she could not travel back to Washington for three weeks.
This all sounded convenient to conservatives. Too convenient. John Bolton, the former Bush administration ambassador to the United Nations, immediately went on Fox News to speculate that Clinton was trying to avoid being held to account by Congress for the deaths in Benghazi. Not to be outdone, Fox News contributor Monica Crowley and Megyn Kelly wondered on the air the same day if the concussion was an excuse for Clinton to not show up to testify. Like Bolton, Crowley was suspicious of Hillary’s illness in the first place, referring to her case of the flu as “this virus with apparently impeccable timing,” as if December in the Northeast is not prime flu season.
Two weeks after the concussion, Clinton was hospitalized with a blood clot related to her fall, a not-at-all-unusual complication in such a case. This led Glenn Beck to mutter darkly that Clinton has some underlying health issues that should preclude her from ever becoming president. Unless it was all just a “scam” to keep her from testifying about Benghazi.
Despite Clinton returning to work in early 2013 and eventually giving a vigorous defense to Congress of the Obama administration’s actions during the Benghazi crisis, the muttering on the right about her health has persisted, morphing now into questions about whether Hillary is too old to be president. Expect conservatives to use the story of Clinton’s concussion as a springboard to larger questions of her health and age as the campaign goes on.
WHAT ABOUT BENGHAZI ANYWAY?
So many conspiracy theories surround the September 2012 attacks that it could easily wind up being the Whitewater of a Hillary Clinton presidency – a single word acting as code for all sorts of nefarious activities that at the end of the day add up to nothing. Which won’t stop the overzealous investigations and accusations.
The most ridiculous charge over Benghazi is that within hours of the attack, Obama and Clinton aides recognized that it could hurt not only the president’s chances for winning the upcoming 2012 election, but could also destroy Clinton’s presidential hopes in 2016. Thus the aides started immediately spinning the attack as being a spontaneous protest against a YouTube video that went out of control and resulted in the burning of the consulate and the deaths of four Americans.
This accusation leaked into the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney in 2012, but it has been most zealously pursued in the two years since Obama’s re-election. Among the groups that have accused Hillary Clinton and her aides of downplaying the attack in order to not hurt her presidential ambitions is Judicial Watch, a right-wing group founded by Larry Klayman, who has been trying to destroy the Clintons with trumped-up conspiracies since the 1990s.
Judicial Watch’s involvement alone should preclude anyone taking this theory seriously. However, with Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) continuing his Select Committee’s investigation of the events in Benghazi – by some counts the ninth Congressional investigation of the tragedy in a little over two years – you can expect to hear much about this story in the next eighteen months. After all, it fits into a broader narrative that has dogged both Hillary and her husband for decades: That both Clintons are so power-hungry they will allow absolutely nothing, even the deaths of their friends and countrymen, to block their way.
After nine Congressional investigations, one would think there would be some evidence of this conspiracy. That there is none will not stop anyone on the right from leveling the charge.
HILLARY AND HUMA – A (MUSLIM) LOVE STORY?
Did you think Hillary and Huma not tossing their change in the Chipotle tip jar was the worst behavior these two ever loosed upon the Republic? Because you would be wrong! They are also secret lesbians intent on abetting the Muslim Brotherhood’s infiltration and takeover of the American government. It’s on the Internet, so it must be true.
The lesbian rumors have dogged Hillary at least since alleged Bill Clinton paramour Gennifer Flowers talked about them in the pages of august journalistic publication Penthouse back in the early 90s. The rumors returned over the last few years with whispers on the right that Clinton and her longtime aide Huma Abedin have been engaged in a lesbian affair for several years. About the only evidence the right can point to in support of this charge is that Abedin is such a close Clinton aide that she seems to always be at the candidate’s side. Lack of evidence has not stopped conservatives from spreading the rumor far and wide online, up to credulously repeating a National Enquirer story that Clinton will publish “an explosive tell-all book” before the election in which she reveals that she is really a lesbian and the stories of the affair are true.
Even if one is inclined to believe this tale, one might ask the question: So what? It’s 2015. Theoretically, Huma and Hillary could have a wedding ceremony in the Rose Garden at any time (perhaps immediately after the latter’s inauguration on January 20, 2017) and it would be as legal as Tricia Nixon’s wedding in the same spot during her father Richard’s presidency in 1971. So conservatives have upped the ante by accusing Abedin of being a secret Muslim plant working to bring down the American government and institute sharia law from the inside. Sure, why not.
The theory has its roots in Abedin’s heritage. She is the daughter of two Muslims and, though American by birth, grew up in Saudi Arabia, returning to the United States to attend college when she was 18. Since becoming a prominent member of Hillary Clinton’s inner circle, starting with working for the then-First Lady in 1996, conservatives up to members of Congress have accused Abedin’s parents (her father died in 1993) and brother of having ties to Muslim Brotherhood operatives. The fact these accusations have been denounced on the floor of the Senate by members of the Republican Party has not slowed them down.
“Having ties” to the Brotherhood is as specific as the accusations have ever really gotten. But as with the McCarthy-era witch hunts for Communists back in the 1950s, all one has to do is whisper unsubstantiated allegations, claim to just be “asking the question,” and you’ve got a smear that will never die. As long as Huma Abedin is a visible member of the Clinton campaign team – and there is every reason to believe she will be – stuff like this will pop up in the nuttier precincts of the right wing and may even make it to Congress now and then.
Hillary Clinton has a lovely daughter named Chelsea, who at the age of 30 married her longtime boyfriend. In early 2014, at the age of 34, she and her husband announced they were starting a family, as young people are wont to do. You know what this means: Hillary ordered Chelsea to make her a grandmother in order to soften up the candidate’s image before the 2016 campaign!
Yep, people were seriously asking. Depending on your point of view, it’s either completely sexist (no one seriously suggested 2012 Republican candidate Mitt Romney had been softened by being a grandfather even though he had enough grandchildren to field a football team) or completely absurd. But these are the Clintons. Certain people assume that everything they do is calculated with their political ambitions in mind.
SPEAKING OF YOUNG WOMEN IN THE CLINTONS’ ORBIT
We all know the name Monica Lewinsky is going to pop up at some point in the months ahead. The one-time White House intern whose affair with Bill Clinton led to his impeachment has mostly lived a quiet life out of the spotlight since the utter absurdity that was the year 1998. But the word “Monica” is a talisman of sorts to conservatives, one they can spit out like Tourette patients every time the phrase War on Women slips into the political dialogue.
In May of 2014, Lewinsky published an essay in Vanity Fair about the affair and its aftermath, which left her life an unemployable punchline, her life a total shambles. Why come out of the shadows? Lewinsky wrote that she wanted to take back control of her own narrative and to speak up on behalf of others who have been bullied and vilified online, sometimes to the point of suicide.
Or maybe she was set up by the Clintons, who used a friendly organ of the liberal media to get the old story “out of the way” as an issue long before the 2016 campaign kicks off. Opinions differ!
It is doubly ironic to see Lynne Cheney complaining about liberal media giving the Clintons a pass on Fox News, the only network that still takes her undead husband seriously. And can anyone imagine, say, NBC giving Jill Biden a forum to talk smack about any of the Republican candidates? Because I can’t.
It’s going to be a long, long, long campaign.