A man stands in a field in Iowa. His name is Peter. Peter is standing in a field because there are “200 other reporters” standing in that field. Those “200 other reporters” are observing an event. The event is called the “Harkin Steak Fry.” Peter is observing those “200 other reporters”…
Hillary Clinton will “probably” decide after Jan. 1, 2015, whether she will run for president in 2016, she said Friday. “I am going to be making a decision around probably after the first of the year,” Clinton told the crowd in Mexico City, where she was speaking at a event for a organization founded by billionaire Carlos Slim, according to the Associated Press.
Clinton had previously said in June that it was “probably likely” she wouldn’t make an announcement until 2015 and that she would start seriously weighing the possibility after the November midterm elections.
As MSNBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald noted, Clinton announced her 2008 campaign on Jan. 20, 2007.
We are not a country that should send children away and send them back to certain death. I believe that we should be guided by the greatest power we have as a people, and that is the power of our principles. Through all of our great world religions, we are told that hospitality to strangers is an essential human dignity.
He’d be a good progressive alternative to Hillary in 2016.
Long before she let Benghazi happen, Hillary Clinton was the center of a swirl of inventive rumors about sex, drugs, and murder. For entertainment purposes only, we’ve rounded up some of the greatest (i.e., most scurrilous). We’ll add more as they inevitably bubble up in the run-up to the 2016 race.
BENGHAZI ON THE BRAIN
Rumor: Then-Secretary of State Clinton faked the flu and a concussion in December 2012 to avoid testifying to Congress about Benghazi.
Rumormongers: 2016 presidential dark horse John Bolton and Fox News contributor Monica Crowley
Rumor: As if a phony head injury wasn’t bad enough—Hillary faked a blood clot, an even more serious medical condition, to further delay her Benghazi testimony.
Rumormonger: Glenn Beck, who added that “if she really had some weird thing in the hospital, then it should prohibit her from ever becoming president.”
BRAINED BY BUSH’S BRAIN
Rumor: The clot was real, and Hillary suffered lingering brain damage that could render her unfit for office.
Rumormonger: Fox News analyst Karl Rove, who backtracked the next day.
THE CLINTON BODY COUNT
Rumor: Various theories hold that former Clinton White House chief of staff Vince Foster didn’t commit suicide in Virginia’s Fort Marcy Park. One posits that he was killed because he was having an affair with Hillary Clinton.
Rumormongers: Former Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) once shot a watermelon (or a pumpkin—it’s unclear) to prove that Foster was shot by someone else. Accuracy in Media founder Reed Irvine took out an ad in the New York Times to note that the FBI had failed to investigate “semen in Foster’s shorts, blond hair on his T-shirt and trousers and multicolored carpet fibers on all his clothing.” (Bonus: Anne Coulter once joked, “If you attack the Clintons publicly, make sure all your friends know that you are not planning suicide.”)
RON BROWN’S BODY
Rumor: Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and 34 others were killed in a plane crash orchestrated by the Clintons to prevent him from spilling the beans to special investigators about selling seats on trade missions.
Rumormonger: The Clinton Body Count, a website linking the first family to more than 90 deaths.
Rumor: After agreeing to cooperate with special investigator Ken Starr, Whitewater partner James McDougal died in prison—allegedly at the hands of Clinton henchmen. “Chalk up another body to Clinton,” as one Rush Limbaugh caller put it. An alternative theory: McDougal faked his death to avoid ratting out his benefactors.
Rumormonger: The Clinton Body Count
Rumor: Former Clinton aide Kathleen Willey alleged that after her cat went missing, a suspicious-looking jogger told her to watch what she said. Then her new cat turned up dead.
Rumormonger: Willey, in the the 2007 pseudo-documentary Hillary: The Movie(which triggered the Citizens United Supreme Court decision).
THE SEX STUFF
GAY UNTIL INAUGURATION
Rumor: After majoring in lesbianism at Wellesley, Hillary entered into a sham marriage with Bill Clinton to cover up the truth. At one point, a former classmatemoved to Little Rock to continue an affair with Hillary.
Rumormonger: Edward Klein, author of The Truth About Hillary: What She Knew, When She Knew It, and How Far She’ll Go to Become President
BISEXUAL AFTER INAUGURATION
Rumor: Bill confided that his wife was a bisexual who, as she put it, “had eaten more pussy than he had.”
Rumormonger: Former Clinton mistress Gennifer Flowers, in a 2013 interview with the Daily Mail
WEBB OF LIES
Rumor: Associate attorney general Webb Hubbell was really Chelsea’s father. (And Vince Foster was possibly killed because he knew.)
Rumormonger: This guy on the Internet who keeps emailing me and every other DC journalist.
Rumor: Forget Webb Hubbell. Chelsea was conceived when Bill forced himself on Hillary during a vacation in Bermuda.
Rumormonger: Klein, keeping it classy.
Rumor: Hillary looked the other way when then-Gov. Bill Clinton used Arkansas state troopers to set up sexual liaisons with dozens—maybe hundreds—of women.
Rumormonger: Former right-wing operative-turned-Media Matters honcho David Brock, who later wrote in his book, Blinded by the Right, that “none of the trooper allegations that could be independently checked turned out to be true.”
BILL’S BLACK LOVE CHILD
Rumor: Bill fathered a son after after luring a prostitute into a cocaine-fueled orgy. Hillary dutifully covered it up.
Rumormongers: Little Rock businessman Robert McIntosh circulated a flier noting the resemblance between 13-year-old Danny Williams and a young William Jefferson Blythe during the 1992 campaign. A 1999 Drudge Report exclusive featured Williams’ mother’s on-tape confession. “What becomes immediately obvious to the viewer watching the videotaped confession is that this is clearly not gossip, rumor, or anonymous charges being maliciously directed at a politician,” wrote Drudge, before learning three days later that the child was not Clinton’s.
COME ALL YE FAITHFUL
Rumor: As First Lady, Hillary decorated the White House Christmas tree with condoms, cock rings, and lords-a-leapin’ with erect penises.
Rumormongers: Disgruntled former FBI agent Gary Aldrich, in his 1996 tell-all,Unlimited Access; and Texas activist “Doc Marquis,” who seized on Aldrich’s claims as “proof positive that Hillary Clinton is a power, practicing witch.”
Rumor: No, it’s not the name of my new metal band—it’s Hillary Clinton’s orientation.
Rumormonger: Southern Evangelical Seminary president Richard Land, who leveled the charge in response to the secretary of state’s advocacy for gay rights in Africa.
THE DRUG STUFF
Rumor: When Bill was governor, the Clintons covered up a multimillion-dollar cocaine smuggling ring based in Mena, Arkansas.
Rumormonger: The Clinton Chronicles (below), a 1994 pseudo-documentary distributed by the Reverend Jerry Falwell
BOYS ON THE TRACKS
Rumor: Seventeen-year-olds Kevin Ives and Don Henry weren’t hit by a train after passing out on an Arkansas railroad track; they were brutally murdered after witnessing a Clinton-assisted drug drop.
Rumormongers: Former Rep. William Dannemeyer (R-Calif.) and The Clinton Chronicles
ASSORTED POWER MADNESS
FOUR MARTINI PUNCH
Rumor: Reporter LJ Davis didn’t, as he claimed, pass out on his floor after drinking one too many martinis—he was assaulted in his Arkansas hotel room in 1994 by Clinton goons and robbed of four “significant” pages from his notebook. His crime: Asking too many questions about Clinton’s work at a Little Rock law firm.
Rumormongers: The Wall Street Journal editorial page, which cited the incident as evidence that Arkansas is a "congenitally violent place," and Rush Limbaugh, who told his listeners, “journalists and others working on or involved in Whitewatergate have been mysteriously beaten and harassed in Little Rock; some have died.”
Rumor: As first lady, Clinton formed her own clandestine police force. Agents embedded in the FBI, the CIA, and the IRS harassed and eliminated critics.
Rumormongers: Richard Poe, author of Hillary’s Secret War, and American Evita author Christopher Andersen
Rumor: Hillary purged the White House Travel Office in order to set up a system of kickbacks for an Arkansas airline helmed by a childhood friend of Bill’s.
Rumormongers: Brock and current Virginia congressional candidate Barbara Comstock
RED, NOT BLUE
Rumor: A “meticulously documented" report exposed the Clintons’ links to a Marxist terrorist plot to take over the country, inspired by the Italian communist and grad-student favorite Antonio Gramsci. Exhibit A: Hillary’s failed health care reform plan.
Rumormonger: WorldNetDaily columnist Samuel Blumenfeld
Rumor: Classified FBI files were requested and misused by First Lady Hillary Clinton to target enemies of the administration. White House Office of Personnel Security Craig Livingstone took the fall when Republican investigators caught wind.
Rumormonger: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who demanded FBI files be swiped for the First Lady’s fingerprints.
Rumor: The Clintons forced former Hillary donor Peter Paul to spend two years in a Brazilian prison—including two months in a cellblock known as the “Corridor of Death”—after he filed a lawsuit against the couple claiming they knew about his illegal campaign finance dealings.
Rumormonger: Paul, in the 2007 pseudo-documentary Hillary Uncensored
Rumor: Team Hillary used helicopters to surveil the Southampton home of 2006 Republican Senate challenger—and current Fox News contributor—K.T. McFarland.
Rumormonger: McFarland, at a campaign event on Long Island
RUSH TO JUDGMENT
Rumor: Rush Limbaugh’s 2006 drug bust for painkillers possession was a set-up by the Clinton machine.
Rumormonger: Poe again
THE MUSLIM STUFF
Rumor: Clinton and top aide/alleged lover Huma Abedin (wife of ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.)) are in cahoots with the ladies’ auxiliary of the Muslim Brotherhood. Which explains why Clinton has been secretly pushing us to spread Sharia law in America.
Rumormongers: ”Huma’s mom is best friends with the new so-called First Lady of Egypt, who is also a member of the Sisterhood,” explained Rush Limbaugh. “Folks, it’s Peyton place—it’s too much to keep up with.” Rep. Michele Bachmann’sallegations of collaboration between Clinton and the Brotherhood was cited by protesters in the streets of Cairo.
Rumor: Clinton’s Islamofascist sympathies were secured with a bribe from Iran.
Rumormonger: Judicial Watch founder Larry Klayman, who conscientiously adds, “I cannot prove it at this time.”
BAN ON CHURCHES
Rumor: Clinton was working with Islamists to shut down Christian houses of worship in the United States before she left office in 2013.
Rumormonger: Conservative speaker and self-described “former terrorist" Kamal Saleem
JUST PLAIN BIZARRE
Rumor: Like most of the Washington elite, Hillary is in fact a blood-drinking extraterrestrial lizard in disguise.
Rumormonger: ”Reptoid hypothesis” creator David Icke
EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATI’ED
Rumor: Wake up, sheeple. The Clintons belong to an 18th-century secret society that controls global governance and finance.
Rumormongers: Lots of crazy people on YouTube
Rumor: In the 1970s, Hillary worked at a Little Rock law firm that helped funnel weapons to the Contras.
Rumormonger: The late Nation columnist Alexander Cockburn
Rumor: The Clintons consented to the harvesting and selling of HIV- and hepatitis C-positive blood from prison inmates to China in the 1980s.
Rumormongers: Klein and WorldNetDaily conspiracy guru Joseph Farah
Rumor: Why did the Clintons enjoy impunity for their myriad crimes? Easy: Ken Starr, the man tasked with investigating them, was a secret Clinton crony.
Rumormonger: Poe again
GET BEHIND ME, THETAN
Rumor: Why did the did the movie version of Primary Colors, in which John Travolta plays a thinly-veiled Bill Clinton, go so easy on the first couple? Maybe because President Clinton pressured the German government to extend religious protections to the Church of Scientology.
Rumormonger: The New York Post reported that Sen. Lauch Faircloth (R-N.C.) demanded an investigation into the matter; Faircloth denied this.
IT’S A TAX!
Rumor: As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton was pushing a secret United Nations takeover of the Internet, to be paid for by a secret tax on American billionaires.
Rumormonger: Former Clinton aide Dick Morris
GOO GOO FOR GAGA: Clinton’s State Department betrayed its true function as an “agent for Lady Gaga” when it helped the “Bad Romance” singer secure a gig at a gay pride event in Italy.
Rumormonger: Mission: America founder Linda Harvey
HERE WE GO AGAIN…
FACE THE NATION
Rumor: Clinton got a face-lift after leaving the State Department to “glam up” for 2016.
Rumormonger: Fox and Friends' Steve Doocy, who tweeted afterwards that he was referring only to Clinton’s website.
HEY SOLE SISTER
Rumor: Clinton hired a mentally ill woman to throw a sneaker at her while giving a speech to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries in Las Vegas in April.
Rumormongers: Limbaugh and former Republican presidential front runner Herman Cain
Rumor: Hillary is a tool of the Dark Lord Lucifer sent to oppose Jesus Christ in the Last Days.
Rumormonger: Montana Republican congressional candidate Ryan Zinke, who called Clinton the “anti-Christ" at a January campaign event.
IT TAKES A CHILD
Rumor: Chelsea Clinton became pregnant at the behest of her parents, who believe that the former secretary of state will be viewed more favorably if she has grandkids.
Rumormongers: Fox News host Howie Kurtz, the Washington Free Beacon's Michael Goldfarb, and the New York Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin.
Rumor: The Clintons arranged for Vanity Fair to publish Monica Lewinsky’s recent essay two-and-a-half years before the next presidential election, so it would be forgotten by 2016.
Rumormonger: Prolific children’s author Lynne Cheney, who asked Bill O’Reilly, “Would Vanity Fair publish anything about Monica Lewinsky that Hillary Clinton wouldn’t want in Vanity Fair?” (Yes.)
To be continued…
Perhaps if the Republicans can’t beat Hillary Clinton fairly in 2016, they can make her so disgusted by the prospect of running that she’ll stay out of the race.
That’s where the Benghazi-Industrial Complex comes in.
Clinton’s 20-year sojourn in public life has been bracketed, jarringly, by two pseudo-scandals, both involving the tragic and less-than-fully-explained death of an important man in Hillary’s orbit. In between there have been assorted smears and public humiliations, including real traumas like Monicagate, the cumulative effect of which has been to make Hillary reluctant to reenter the political game. Or so many of her friends and aides say, and so Republicans must be hoping.
It all began in 1993 – just six months into her term as first lady – with the death of her close friend, deputy White House counsel Vince Foster, whose shocking suicide on a grassy knoll outside Washington fed a never-ending meme of Clintonian perfidy. (Rush Limbaugh still sometimes makes jokes about Hillary’s opponents ending up “in Fort Marcy Park.”) As Clinton left Foggy Bottom two decades later, she was hounded by angry right-wing allegations in the final months of her tenure as secretary of state that the Obama administration had covered up the real reasons for the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya, in the early morning hours of Sept. 12, 2012—in part to fend off Mitt Romney’s campaign criticisms and perhaps even, in the more elaborate version of this conspiracy theory, to protect Hillary’s 2016 ambitions.
There were, and are, legitimate questions about Clinton’s conduct before and after Benghazi. She was, after all, the first secretary of state to lose an ambassador in the field since George Shultz in 1988. According to the conclusions of her own Accountability Review Board, chaired by retired Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering and vice chaired by former Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Mullen, “systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies” might have contributed to the four deaths. (Even so, somewhat controversially, the report confined its findings to the failures at “senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department,” Diplomatic Security and Near Eastern Affairs, and did not cite Clinton.) In emotional testimony before Congress just before she left office, Clinton said that she had not personally read an August 16, 2012, cable from Stevens that raised questions about security, and she did not appear to know about a decision to turn down a request for more security in Libya, as detailed in a House Republican report in April of last year. “I didn’t see those requests. They didn’t come to me. I didn’t approve them. I didn’t deny them,” she said.
If all that is true—and it would indeed be unusual for a secretary of state to be personally making decisions about diplomatic security arrangements—it’s fair to ask why Clinton seemed to be too busy to deal with new threats in a critical region or appear herself on TV to discuss the murder of a U.S. ambassador. Sure, we know that Hillary hates doing the Sunday talk shows, but so what? She bore far more responsibility for Benghazi than the unlucky person the administration sent out in her stead, then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, whose shaky performance deep-sixed her own Foggy Bottom ambitions.
But these are issues of competence, not corruption. There is as little evidence that Clinton or anyone else in the administration engaged in a cover-up of Benghazi as there is that Hillary ordered the whacking of her old friend Vince Foster. It is a fantastical notion that continues not just to survive but thrive, in defiance of any application of fact, among the “vast right-wing conspiracy” Hillary decried so long ago.
Last week saw an abrupt resurgence of Benghazi conspiracy-theorizing when the conservative group Judicial Watch released previously undisclosed emails from the White House obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request (headline: “JW Finds Benghazi Smoking Gun!”). This event was followed, like clockwork in a time bomb, by yet another hearing held by Rep. Darrell Issa’s House Oversight Committee. Pursuing their standard playbook dating from the Whitewater years, leading Republicans called for a whole new round of probes.
“We need a joint select committee to find out the truth about #Benghazi — NOW,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted, and the House promptly convened one. Issa melodramatically subpoenaed Clinton’s successor, John Kerry, to explain the administration’s “disturbing, perhaps criminal” behavior in withholding a Sept. 14, 2012, email from Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes.
The Rhodes email, in truth, did little but to lay out an unsurprising and fairly standard strategy for prepping Rice for her TV interviews later that week on Benghazi and other issues. But, innocuous as it was, that didn’t stop the Benghazi-Industrial Complex (call it the BIC, for short) from resurrecting its favorite term: “smoking gun.” “If this is not a smoking gun, proving beyond any doubt, the story told by the administration about Benghazi was politically motivated and fabricated, nothing will ever prove that,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has been eagerly trying to shore up his conservative credentials to fend off a Tea Party challenger. Rush Limbaugh declared on his radio show that “the memo shows that there was a massive cover-up.”
Let’s face it: The BIC is here to stay, fueled by a mania on the right to somehow, in some way, validate Issa’s declaration that Obama is the “one of the most corrupt presidents of modern times” and, above all, to tarnish Clinton ahead of 2016 by linking the former secretary of state directly to the deaths of Stevens and the others. “Which is Hillary Clinton’s worst scandal?” asked a Tea-Party affiliated site, TownHall.com, conveniently providing boxes to allow participants to check-mark an episode from “her shady history”: Benghazi, Vince Foster, Whitewater or Travelgate. Another Tea Party site went further still, headlining a recent thread, “Hillary Clinton: The Butcher of Benghazi?” and illustrating it with a photoshopped image of her holding up bloody hands. “Someone tweets about Benghazi every 12 seconds. Not every 12 days or every 12 minutes, but every 12 seconds,” National Journal recorded last week, citing the social-media tracking firm Topsy. In the past 30 days, Benghazi and Clinton have been mentioned almost in unison on Twitter, with the former earning 219,325 mentions to Hillary’s 219,163. Benghazi has, in effect, become Hillary’s social-media twin, at least among conservatives.
Nor are some conspiracists shy about tying Clinton’s behavior over Benghazi to the never-dying suspicions about her alleged role in Foster’s death. “The Clintons got away with ANOTHER murder,” one Tea Party Command Center commentator, Barry Venables, wrote recently. And the Hillary haters are developing scenarios as crazy as when Dan Burton, then an Indiana congressman, fired a pistol at a large melon in his backyard to prove that Foster had been murdered. Not surprisingly, Fox News has led the way, with host Eric Bolling suggesting in recent days that Hillary staged her concussion in 2012, when she fainted and fell, so that Rice would have to “take the bullet” on TV (never mind that Clinton suffered the concussion two months later), and that the White House cover-up began 20 months ago in preparation for Clinton’s 2016 run. Other Fox commentators gleefully free-associated scandals, likening Benghazi to Watergate. “If only Nixon knew all he had to do was fall down,” radio talk-show host Tammy Bruce tweeted. Fox, in fact, has made Benghazi a permanent part of its programming, mentioning the word on no fewer than 1,101 programs in the past year, according to Nexis. The chyron “Benghazi” is almost as much of a permanent fixture on Fox as “Breaking News” is on CNN.
How does all this connect with the facts? It doesn’t seem to matter that the gradually emerging story about Benghazi has, if anything, only seemed to back the administration’s original account of the violence against Stevens and the other Americans. Recall that the central issue for the critics was — and is — whether the “talking points” mainly drafted by the CIA and provided to Susan Rice for her appearances on the Sunday talk shows accurately reflected what the U.S. intelligence community knew at the time, or whether the administration knowingly misrepresented this intelligence. Accurately summing up the CIA talking points, Rice had said in her TV interviews that the administration believed that the attacks were to some degree spontaneous, partly motivated by demonstrations in Cairo and other cities against a U.S.-made video lampooning the Prophet Mohammad. Still, Rice noted that “extremist elements” might have taken part—again reflecting the intelligence community’s contemporaneous assessment (though Rice might have emphasized the video more than the talking points warranted).
The balance of evidence today, according to intelligence officials and corroborating news reports, is that the terrible events of Sept. 12, 2012, pretty much played out in the way Rice said back then. Authorities still believe that extremist groups opportunistically exploited the anti-American demonstrations in the region to launch the attacks. True, intelligence officials did get one major thing wrong. It took a week or so after Rice’s TV appearances to clarify, for certain, that there had been no protests in Benghazi itself before the assault on the compound—and that, as the office of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in a statement on Sept. 28, two weeks after Rice appeared, “it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists.”
But there is no evidence that the administration substantially misrepresented what it knew at the time. Or that Clinton, Obama, Rhodes or anyone else covered up or even downplayed any evidence of a planned al Qaeda attack—as Republicans have consistently alleged—so that the president could continue to boast of his success against terrorism on the campaign trail. If the talking points were extensively edited after an interagency consultation, that was fairly normal procedure too. Shortly after the Benghazi attacks, Republicans also made much of news reports that the White House and State Department had been tipped within hours that al Qaeda-linked terrorists were involved (“Smoking gun!” tweeted conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin—of course). In fact, however, it took a long time for authorities to identify any actual culprits, and the administration responsibly handed the investigation over to the FBI. (It wasn’t until August of 2013 that the FBI had enough evidence to file the first charges.) Lacking solid evidence, Obama even avoided the temptation of ordering what would have been a politically popular “October surprise”—a counterattack on the terrorists responsible for the assault—before the 2012 election. Another popular meme on the right—trotted out again by Issa at last week’s hearing—is that the Obama administration failed to act militarily to save Stevens and the others, but even the Republican majority on House Armed Services Committee, in a report issued in February, says that is untrue.
And what of the new claims of a cover-up generated by Judicial Watch’s release of the Rhodes memo and other previously undisclosed emails? Trey Gowdy, the South Carolina House Republican named to head the new select committee on Benghazi, told Fox News on Friday that he has evidence that not only is the White House hiding information, “there is an intent to hide it.” But that probably won’t stand up to scrutiny either. An Obama administration official told Politico that the White House didn’t supply the emails previously because Congress never asked for them. A May 2013 subpoena from the Oversight Committee sought any communications between Rice and a specific group of State Department aides, but did not mention senior White House officials such as Rhodes.
That doesn’t add up to much of a scandal. But it’s already too late for the truth. Benghazi has taken on a cultural life of its own on the right. It has become embedded in the Democratic demonology of the conservative base. It is now shorthand for a new generation of right-wing conspiracy-theorizing about the Clintons that Republican candidates know will excite conservative voters; Benghazi has become to the 2010s what Vince Foster and Whitewater were to the 1990s.
And perhaps, in the end, the prospect of facing down accusations over Benghazi alone won’t matter much to her. Between the bloody chaos in Syria, Iraq and the larger Arab world, violence in Afghanistan and the standoff with Russia over Ukraine—despite her effort at a “reset” of relations—Clinton will have a lot else to defend in her record if she runs. Real issues, in other words. With Benghazi or not, any presidential campaign is going to be ugly. But the Benghazi-Industrial Complex is going to be as toxic as anything Hillary has faced since … Vince Foster. Is she ready?
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) told George Stephanopoulos Sunday that she left the Republican Party in the mid-90s because it was tilting the playing field in favor of Wall Street.
Warren has quickly become a populist hero to liberals. Stephanopoulos, host of ABC’s The Week, noted something in her background that “might surprise” her supporters: the fact that she has voted Republican in the past, and was a registered Republican in Pennsylvania from 1991 to 1996. Warren said she left the party after that because she felt it was siding more and more with Wall Street:
I was an independent. I was with the GOP for a while because I really thought that it was a party that was principled in its conservative approach to economics and to markets. And I feel like the GOP party just left that. They moved to a party that said, “No, it’s not about a level playing field. It’s now about a field that’s gotten tilted.”And they really stood up for the big financial institutions when the big financial institutions are just hammering middle class American families. I just feel like that’s a party that moved way, way away.
Warren’s instincts on the GOP’s sympathy for the big financial institutions proved prescient. Former Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX) spent the 1990s spearheading legislation that made the 2008 financial crisis possible: the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which broke down the firewall between commercial banks and the far riskier investment banks, as well as the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which deregulated the over-the-counter derivatives that played a key role in the 2008 financial collapse. Both bills passed with majority Republican support, though they were also supported by a good deal of Democrats and the Clinton White House.
“Starting in the 80s, the cops were taken off the beat in financial services,” Warren explained. “These guys [the big financial institutions] were allowed to just paint a bullseye on the backs of american families. They loaded up on risk, the crashed the economy, they got bailed out. And what bothers me now is they still strut around Washington, they block regulations that they don’t want, they roll over agencies whenever they can, and they break the law. And they still don’t end up being held accountable for it and going to jail.”
Warren also dinged the Obama White House, saying, “I make no secret of my differences with the administration in how they’ve treated the large financial institutions.” But she noted the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) — which was largely Warren’s brainchild — would not exist without Obama’s support. The agency has already begun cracking down on payday lenders and debt collectors, while cataloging and reporting on mortgage service abuses.
Warren credited the agency with already forcing the largest financial institutions to return more than $3 billion they’ve cheated from customer, and she herself has gone after Republicans for filibustering the CFPB’s nominated director unless the agency is restructured to weaken its political independence.
Since 2008, the Democrats and the Obama Administration have made some efforts — albeit limited — to repair some of the damage, particularly by passing the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill and the CFPB. But prominent Republican senators like David Vitter (LA) former Sen. Jim DeMint have tried to roll back the Dodd-Frank financial regulation laws, or repeal them wholesale. And as Mike Konczal has detailed, both establishment and Tea Party republicans have spent the time since the crisis opposing nearly every new regulation to rein in Wall Street’s risk-taking and every attempt to reinstate the rules lost during the 1990s.
“What’s happening is we’ve got a Washington for those he can hire armies of lobbyists and lawyers. Their voices get heard in Washington and rules get tilted in their favor,” Warren said.
“Working families, not so much.”
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is moving ahead with preparations for a possible presidential bid and said in an interview that if he’s going to lay the groundwork for a national campaign, he can’t wait for Hillary Rodham Clinton to decide whether she is running.
In some of his most extensive comments to date on his aspirations, O’Malley (D) said he has been meeting with foreign- and domestic-policy experts privately to flesh out his thinking about “a better way forward for our country.” And he said that he would make a good president “for these times especially.”
“I have a great deal of respect for Hillary Clinton,” O’Malley said. “But for my own part, I have a responsibility to prepare and to address the things that I feel a responsibility to address. . . . To squander this important period of preparation because of horse-race concerns and handicapping concerns is just not a very productive use of energy. . . . Right now, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing — the thought work and the preparation work.”
At the moment, the governor is stuck in an awkward position. He clearly wants to run for the White House in 2016 but probably won’t, several close associates say, if Clinton runs. They expect he would defer to her in part out of loyalty to a friend and political ally — he was the second governor in the country to endorse her 2008 presidential bid— and in part because he would be such a long shot against Clinton. In the interview, O’Malley said a possible Clinton bid is not a factor in his thinking “at this point.”
With less than a year left in office, O’Malley is without a clear destination. Thus far, his political career has moved swiftly — from Baltimore council member, to mayor, to Maryland governor — but now it’s uncertain what his next job will be. If it could be the presidency, he said, there’s no time to waste.
O’Malley would face a steep climb. He has barely registered in early presidential polling, and even in Maryland, Democratic voters preferred Clinton by a 7-to-1 ratio ina Washington Post survey last year. In aPost poll published in the past week, Clinton was the first choice for president for 73 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents nationally.
Moreover, Clinton, a former U.S. senator and former secretary of state, remains the first choice of many Democrats in Maryland.
In a recent interview, state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) said, “There are people like myself who think it’s Hillary’s time.” U.S. House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) told Roll Call recently that he considers Clinton the “odds-on favorite of most Democrats if she runs.” Hoyer added that if she doesn’t run, he would support O’Malley, who would make an “excellent” president.
O’Malley has been working diligently to promote himself and boost his prospects. Late last year, he traveled to New Hampshire, where, at a Democratic dinner, he touted his record of fighting crime and drugs in Baltimore and pushing progressive causes at the State House in Annapolis, including the legalization of same-sex marriage.
California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) said that “he will not run for president in 2016, dashing political speculation that he might make a fourth bid for the White House,” the Los Angeles Times reports.
Said Brown: “No, that’s not in the cards. Unfortunately. Actually, California is a lot more governable.”
The meeting was revealed Monday in a report by Politico journalist Maggie Haberman, who detailed some of the moves Clinton has made to prepare for a possible run.
The report said the meeting occurred at Clinton’s Washington home and focused on “filing deadlines in certain states,” “how much money Clinton would need to raise,” and “how field operations have become more sophisticated in the era of Barack Obama.”
"It appears to have been the only formal 2016-related presentation Clinton has been given from anyone outside her immediate circle," Haberman wrote.
The meeting was reportedly organized by Minyon Moore, who Haberman described as Clinton’s “political eyes and ears of late.” Haberman also noted Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, has become one of her top advisors.
Dewey Square Group declined to comment to Politico about the meeting. Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill responded to a question about the meeting by saying Clinton was very far off from deciding whether or not to throw her hat into the ring in 2016.
"This is a very personal decision, one she has said she won’t be making anytime soon," Merrill said.
Every conversation we have with any Democratic operative about the 2016 presidential race starts this way: “Well, I mean if Hillary runs . . . .” Which, of course, is to be expected. If Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former secretary of state, former New York senator and former 2008 presidential candidate, runs, then the Democratic race (and the general election, too) revolves around her.
But, of late, those conversations have an interesting addendum to them that goes like this: “Of course, if Elizabeth Warren wanted to do it, she’d have a case to make.” Yes, she would. We’ve long believed that the freshman Democratic Massachusetts senator’s combination of hero status among liberals nationally and massive fundraising capacity would make her very formidable if she ran.
Warren has been adamant about her lack of interest in the race. But, things change in politics. Then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama was similarly adamant about his lack of interest in running for president in 2008 — and we know how that turned out.
The simple fact is that Warren’s beloved status among rank-and-file Democrats — and an elite group of very wealthy and very liberal major donors — means that if Clinton didn’t run, Warren would come under a significant amount of pressure to reconsider. And Warren would have a built-in excuse to explain her past comments; “Well I never thought about it seriously because I expected Hillary to run . . . but now that she’s not . . . .”
Because of that upside — with apologies to NBA draft experts — we are moving Warren into our second tier of potential Democratic presidential candidates. Clinton remains as the lone candidate in the first tier — a space she will occupy until she announces whether she is running. Our breakdown of the field is below. The candidates within each tier are listed alphabetically.
Tier One (If she runs, the other tiers don’t matter)
●Hillary Rodham Clinton: Everything we hear privately and everything we see publicly suggests that Clinton is running — or at least allowing those around her to put the pieces in place to be ready if/when she flips the switch. Does that mean she is definitely in? No. But it means that with every passing month, we become more and more convinced that the surprise announcement would be that she’s not running.
Tier Two (If not Hillary, then . . .)
● Joe Biden: Last week, the vice president called state Rep.-elect Brian Meyer (D) to congratulate him on his special-election victory a few days earlier. Why would the VP call a not-even-sworn-in-yet state legislator? Because Meyer is from Iowa. And that tells you everything you need to know about whether Biden is thinking about running for president in 2016.
● Andrew Cuomo: Unlike some of the other people on this list — Martin O’Malley, we are looking at you — the New York governor is doing the do-as-little-as-possible-to-stoke-2016-speculation thing. (That may or may not be a thing.) Cuomo, the scion of a famous political family, knows that in a field without Clinton, he is a heavyweight given his name, fundraising abilities and résumé as governor of one of the most Democratic states in the country.
● Martin O’Malley: The governor of Maryland is, without question, the candidate most open about his interest in running for president. “By the end of this year, I think we’re on course to have a body of work that lays the framework for a candidacy in 2016,” O’Malley told reporters in August. His travel schedule is heavy on trips to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, and O’Malley used his time as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association to build out his national fundraising network.
●Elizabeth Warren: See above. There’s no one not named Clinton on this list who combines the star power and fundraising potential that Warren boasts. And, Warren has one thing that even Clinton doesn’t: a rabid following within the liberal base of the party.
Tier Three (There’s a will and a way — sort of)
● Kirsten Gillibrand: Gillibrand is a sneaky-good politician. Without all that much fanfare, she has turned herself into a liberal champion. She’s also someone who has proved that she knows how to raise money; she took in $30 million between her 2010 and 2012 Senate campaigns.
Tier Four (There’s a will but — probably — not a way)
●Howard Dean: Dean clearly looks back on his one-time front-running 2004 presidential campaign wistfully and wonders if he could catch lightning in a bottle again. The answer is almost certainly “no,” but Dean, never someone who cared much about the party establishment’s opinion of him, might be the sort of person who would be willing to wage a campaign against Clinton from the ideological left.
●Amy Klobuchar: The field above her is too crowded for the Minnesota senator to take a flier on a presidential bid. But, she has the résumé and the ambition to surprise people if things broke just right.
If HRC and/or Biden don’t run, I’d prefer Martin O’Malley, Elizabeth Warren, or Amy Klobuchar to be my pick. Gillibrand would do well too.
Cuomo = DINO and not happening.
The Washington Times’ Wesley Pruden launched a sexist attack against Hillary Clinton, claiming that while a man her age is “not particularly old,” a woman in public life like Clinton “is getting past her sell-by date.”
Discussing speculation that Clinton might run for president in 2016, Washington Times' editor emeritus Wesley Pruden, began his September 24 column by noting that Clinton’s interview with New York magazine had revived speculation on her political plans, adding, “the lady knows how to keep everyone guessing. Only her roots are showing.” Pruden concluded by saying that Clinton’s age is “not particularly old for a man” but “a woman in public life is getting past her sell-by date”.
BREAKING: The RNC has decided to pass a resolution against sanctioned debates held by CNN, MSNBC, and NBC. #RNC #2016GOP #GOP
BREAKING: The #RNC has passed a resolution against debates on CNN, NBC, and MSNBC for 2016 unless they cease involvement in HRC specials.— Justin Gibson (@JGibsonDem) August 16, 2013
On his radio program yesterday, Bryan Fischer spent a segment gloating about how President Obama’s recent speech in Berlin was an “absolute abysmal, colossal failure” because he spoke to only 4,500 invited guests, in comparison to the crowd of 200,000 who turned out to hear him when he spoke there as a candidate back in 2008 (unlike, say, President George W. Bush who was met by 20,000 protestors when he traveled there in 2002.)
"What you’re about to see," Fischer predicted, "is Barack Obama is going to be kicked to the back of the Democratic bus. This guy has now become a liability … and the Democratic Party is going to tell him to sit in the back of the bus; the front of the Democratic bus belongs to the white person, Hillary Clinton."
(via HuffPost Politics: Martin O’Malley Using Fundraising, Agenda To Explore 2016 Run)
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — His latest legislative achievements put him in the vanguard of his party’s liberal base. He’s been a top fundraiser for President Barack Obama. And he’s ramping up his travel to help fellow Democrats around the country.
Little-known outside his home state, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has methodically checked the necessary boxes toward earning the reputation of good Democratic soldier as he considers whether to run for president in 2016 – a White House bid that would face long odds.
It’s very early. Obama still has more than three years left in his presidency. And no one is officially in the race.
Yet, O’Malley already is overshadowed by the buzz surrounding the mere prospect of a Hillary Rodham Clinton candidacy. If not her, talk in Democratic circles turns to Vice President Joe Biden.
Despite the hurdles, the 50-year-old former Baltimore mayor is publicly undaunted.
On a trip to Israel last month to seemingly boost his foreign policy credentials, O’Malley disclosed publicly what had been arguably the worst-kept secret in Annapolis – that he would use the last half of this year to consider seeking the presidency. His Washington-area appearances at fundraisers Tuesday for Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and June 12 for Iowa Senate candidate Bruce Braley are certain to raise eyebrows even further given that the two candidates represent states that traditionally weigh in first in a Democratic primary.
While O’Malley is one of the few Democrats openly talking about succeeding Obama, aides say he hasn’t made any decisions about his political future. That includes whether he would run or not if Clinton, whom he endorsed and campaigned for during her 2008 race, decides to seek the nomination. Democratic insiders say the former secretary of state would be the heavy favorite should she launch a campaign.
A former head of the Democratic Governors Association, O’Malley is one of the party’s top fundraisers and made clear his national aspirations when he worked to raise more than $1 million for Obama’s re-election campaign, the most of any sitting Democratic office-holder.
Then, last fall, he headlined Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry – a must-stop for any presidential aspirant seeking to compete in the state’s traditional leadoff caucuses. He followed that up with a springtime speech to party activists in South Carolina, another stop in the early primary contests.
Aides say O’Malley, now the DGA’s finance chairman, will spend more time in places with active governors’ races in 2014 – states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida – giving him a way to court the party’s elite without the media glare of early primary states. He also is scheduled to address the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank with close ties to the Obama administration, on May 30.
Through it all, O’Malley will be overseeing implementation of his latest liberal legislative victories, new laws that would put him in lockstep with many party activists who play pivotal roles in primaries and caucuses.
In November and on O’Malley’s watch, voters approved the state’s same-sex marriage law and a state version of the Dream Act, which allows immigrants living in the country illegally to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities.
The governor, whose second term ends in January 2015, boasts of a data-driven approach aimed at managing his state through budget cuts and tough economic conditions.
"The good news is that he’s a great Democrat, and he’s a very progressive person and has put forth a very progressive agenda, and if that is what you believe in, then you’ll think he’ll make a great president," Miller said. "So his principal detractors are those who have a much more conservative philosophy and so he has all the makings to win a Democratic primary."
Source: The Huffington Post
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) said he’s considering a run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 — and will spend the latter half of this year focusing on whether a White House bid is feasible.
“By the second half of this year, I need to be spending a lot more energy and time giving serious consideration and preparation to what if anything I might have to offer should I decide to run for president in 2016,” O’Malley, 50, told the Baltimore Sun’s editorial board on Wednesday.
“The primary reason I think that my name has been mentioned occasionally in the company of such greats as Hillary Clinton, great public servants such as Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden is because of the accomplishments that we’ve had and the effectiveness that we’ve had through two administrations here in Baltimore and also at the state,” O’Malley added.
“And so over the course and especially the latter half of this year, I need to properly allocate the attention, the time, the thought power, the brain power necessary to give the serious consideration to that weighty responsibility that it deserves.”
O’Malley, who is serving his second term as governor, just completed a legislative session in Annapolis that included passage of a new gun law that imposes some of the toughest restrictions in the nation.
The bill mandates fingerprinting for people purchasing handguns, bans dozens of types of semiautomatic rifles and imposes a 10-round limit on magazines.
That gun bill and other legislation approved during O’Malley’s administration — including the legalization of gay marriage and the approval of in-state tuition to young illegal immigrants — are highly popular among Democratic primary voters.
O’Malley also touts Maryland’s decision to repeal the death penalty and the imposition of higher gasoline taxes to pay for transportation infrastructure as achievements that could endear him to Democrats.
“For the last 90 days I’ve been very much focused and very much absorbed with the very difficult things that we had to get done in this session,” O’Malley told the Sun.
But O’Malley, though well known in Democratic circles, has a low national profile.
A survey by Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling earlier this month found O’Malley with just 1 percent support among Democrats for the 2016 nomination.
O’Malley was viewed favorably by 10 percent of those polled, and unfavorably by 12 percent. But fully 78 percent of voters weren’t sure.
H/T: The Hill