- Vast right-wing conspiracy
"Vast right-wing conspiracy" was a phrase used by then First Lady
Hillary Rodham Clintonin 1998 in defense of her husband President Bill Clintonand his administration during the Lewinsky scandal, characterizing the Lewinsky charges as the latest in a long, organized, collaborative series of charges by Clinton's political enemies.
While popularized by Ms. Clinton in her 1998 interview, the phrase did not originate with her. In 1991 the
:Thatcher-era Britain produced its own crop of paranoid left-liberal films. ... All posited a vast right-wing conspiracy propping up a reactionary government ruthlessly crushing all efforts at opposition under the guise of parliamentary democracy.
An AP story in 1995 also used the phrase, relating an official's guess that the
Oklahoma City bombingwas the work of "maybe five malcontents" and not "some kind of vast right-wing conspiracy." [Safire, William. "Safire's Political Dictionary." New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.]
"The Today Show" interview
Allegations that Bill Clinton had an affair with
White Houseintern Monica Lewinsky, and then lied about it under oath, first made national headlines on January 17, 1998, when the story was picked up by " The Drudge Report". Despite swift denials from President Clinton, the clamor for answers grew louder. On January 27, 1998, Hillary Clinton appeared on NBC's "The Today Show", in an interview with Matt Lauer.
:Matt Lauer: "You have said, I understand, to some close friends, that this is the last great battle, and that one side or the other is going down here."
:Hillary Clinton: "Well, I don't know if I've been that dramatic. That would sound like a good line from a movie. But I do believe that this is a battle. I mean, look at the very people who are involved in this — they have popped up in other settings. This is — 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."
Hillary Clinton's allegations included criticisms directed against independent counsel
Kenneth Starr, who she claimed leaked information damaging to her husband.
The New York Times" broke the story on the Whitewater Scandal in 1992 after one of its own reporters followed up on an Arkansas paper's coverage.Fact|date=May 2007 The NYT began its investigation with the Madison Guarantyfile at the Arkansas Securities Department. By September, the FBI—under Janet Reno—was investigating Jim and Susan McDougal, Madison Guaranty, and Whitewater Development Corporation.Fact|date=May 2007
The next year, nine criminal referrals relating to Whitewater hit the US Attorney's office and FBI in Little Rock. Three defendants—David Hale, Charles Matthews, and Eugene Fitzhugh—were indicted for fraud relating to Whitewater. By January 1994 Clinton himself requested that Reno appoint a regulatory independent counsel for the Whitewater investigation, and Reno named
Robert Fiskeas independent counsel. Kenneth Starrwasn't appointed independent counsel until after Vince Foster's suicide in August.Fact|date=May 2007
It wasn't until July, two and a half years after the news of Whitewater broke, that Congress held hearings on Whitewater; the Democrats, from 1992–1994, had refused to do so while they held the majority.Fact|date=May 2007
Troopergate purportedly involved four Arkansas state troopers being employed by William Clinton to solicit sexual activities on his behalf. The four troopers later accepted money for the inclusion of their testimony in a book on the scandal; this monetary payoff has often been held up as proof that Troopergate was spun from whole cloth by Republican activists.Fact|date=May 2007 One of the troopers was convicted in lying to the FBI in 2005 in an unrelated incident.Fact|date=September 2007
The sexual harassment suit filed by
Paula Jonesagainst William Clinton has often been derided on basis of the source of her legal funding, much of which came from Republican activists. It is claimed the Jones case did not warrant an independent prosecutor.Fact|date=May 2007
David Brock, a conservative-turned-liberal pundit, has said he was once a part of an effort to dredge up a scandal against Clinton. In 1993 Brock, then of the " American Spectator", was the first to report Paula Jones' claims. As Brock explained in " Blinded by the Right", after learning more about the events and conservative payments surrounding Paula Joneshe personally apologized to the Clintons. He documented his experience in "", wherein he alleged that Arkansas state troopers had taken money in exchange for testimony against Clinton which Brock had published in a previous book. Adam Curtisalso discusses the concept in his documentary series " The Power of Nightmares". Brock has confirmed Clinton's claim that there was a "Right wing conspiracy" to smear her husband, quibbling only with the characterization of it as "vast", since Brock contends that it was orchestrated mainly by a few powerful people.
Claims have also been made against Republican supporter and billionaire
Richard Mellon Scaife, whom former Clinton White House Counsel Lanny Davisonce claimed was using his money "to destroy a president of the United States." Scaife claims to be public about his political spending (q.v. [ [http://www.scaife.org scaife.org ] ] ). CNN stated in a study the news outlet conducted on Scaife, "If it's a conspiracy, it's a pretty open one." [ [http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1998/04/27/scaife.profile/ Who Is Richard Mellon Scaife? - April 27, 1998 ] ]
Hillary Clinton later said in her 2003 autobiography that, "Looking back, I see that I might have phrased my point more artfully, but I stand by the characterization of Starr's investigation [regardless of the truth about Lewinsky] ." ["Living History", p. 446.] Moreover, by 2007 Clinton was saying in her presidential campaign appearances that the vast right-wing conspiracy was back, citing such cases as the
2002 New Hampshire Senate election phone jamming scandal. [ [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17593375/ Clinton: Vast right-wing conspiracy is back] , MSNBC/AP, March 13 2007]
Use in popular culture
After Bill Clinton´s affair and subsequent
perjurycame to light, Hillary's comments regarding his accusers led to the use of her term by conservatives in an ironic context. In 2004, conservative lawyer Mark W. Smithwrote the " Official Handbook of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy", which came with a "membership card" that made its owner an "official member of the VRWC." A number of entrepreneurs are selling VRWC merchandise. [ [http://froogle.google.com/froogle?q=member+%22vast+right+wing+conspiracy%22&hl=en&btnG=Search member "vast right wing conspiracy" - Google Product Search ] ] Similarly, a number of newspaper, magazine, and website articles have played on the phrase. [cite news | url=http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/25/magazine/25DEMOCRATS.html | title=Wiring the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy | work= The New York Times Magazine| date= 2004-07-25] [cite web | url=http://webm.powerparcel.com/domains/domainsponsor_all.php?parent=dsflip_live&domain=joinspencer.com | title=The Clinton-McFarland Connection: A vast left-wing conspiracy?] Rush Limbaugh, radio talk show host and political pundit, has referred to his fan base as the "Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy" and himself as "Mr. Big" of the VRWC. Limbaugh distributed coffee mugs imprinted with "Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy". QubeTVhas the slogan "Starring The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy" on its website's masthead. Darby Conley(cartoonist for the comic ' Get Fuzzy') produced a comic where Bucky Katt used the line "It's a right wing conspiracy!" to which his compadre Satchel responds, "I wish I was in a vast chicken wing conspiracy."
* [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/clinton/stories/hillary012898.htm Washington Post, January 28, 1998 "First Lady Launches Counterattack"]
* [http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1998/01/27/hillary.today/ CNN, January 27, 1998 "Hillary Clinton: 'This Is A Battle'"]
* [http://www.leadershipinstitute.org The Leadership Institute]
* [http://leany.com/Conspiracy/hillary_clinton_transcript.htm Transcript of Hillary Clinton interview]
* [http://www.thevrwc.org thevrwc.org (satirical site)]
* [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0312273193 The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton]
* [http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/1998/05/19/archive/main9813.shtml CBS]
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