There was a time when I thought that the heights of derangement to which Barack Obama drove his political opponents were even greater than what we saw during the Clinton years. The dark warnings of socialism, the inability to accept that he is actually a U.S. citizen, the musings from prominent Republican figures about his "Kenyan anti-colonial behavior," the conspiracies sketched out on Glenn Beck's chalkboard, the "unskewed" polls, the fifty Obamacare repeal votes (and counting), the tricorner hats, the whole mad chaotic mess of the last five years—surely these people were nuttier than they had ever been. But now, as the possibility of a Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, and thus of a Hillary Clinton presidency, becomes real, I'm beginning to wonder.
There are some things you just can't compare with any precision—what's crazier, believing that Barack Obama's parents planted a false birth announcement in Hawaii newspapers when he was born so that one day he could illegitimately run for president, or believing that Bill Clinton oversaw a drug-running operation out of a small Arkansas airport and had dozens of his political enemies murdered? There's no way to answer that.
It isn't so much that conservatives have already gone off the deep end about Clinton. But we're starting to see the signs, the way that anything involving the former president and the former secretary of state acts like a kind of political crystal meth, making conservatives get all excited and depriving them of the ability think rationally. Take, for instance, the reaction to the fact that Monica Lewinsky is writing an article for Vanity Fair, one that, from the looks of it, won't be particularly interesting. To look at that and see the sinister hand of Hillary Clinton masterminding the release of the article, you'd have to believe some awfully strange things. You'd have to believe that Clinton can dictate editorial decisions to the magazine, and that she'd even want Lewinsky to be drawing a lot of attention, and most importantly, that Hillary Clinton would be able to convince Lewinsky herself to do it. Try to imagine that conversation. "Monica? Hi, it's Hillary. How's it going? Listen, I need a favor." "Oh, anything for you, Hill. You know how much I value our friendship."
But look here:
"I really wonder if this isn't an effort on the Clintons' part to get that story out of the way," Cheney, wife of former Vice President Dick Cheney, said during a Tuesday night interview on Fox News. "Would Vanity Fair publish anything about Monica Lewinsky that Hillary Clinton didn't want in Vanity Fair?"
Lynn Cheney isn't some fringe nutball. She's been around politics for a long time. Her husband was White House Chief of Staff, then Secretary of Defense, then Vice President. She worked in government. She knows how things work. But she thinks not only that the Clintons have control of the magazine industry and of Lewinsky herself, but that anyone would believe that a Lewinsky-penned article would "get that story out of the way," as if 1) there's anything about that story that we as a nation don't already know, and 2) once there's an article about it in Vanity Fair, that means no one will talk about it anymore.
I don't mean to make too much out of this one little thing, but I think it's a harbinger of what's to come. When it comes to the Clintons, conservatives are willing to believe just about anything, no matter how bizarre. If you said that Hillary Clinton was harvesting organs from American veterans in a secret lab underneath the State Department, a lot of them would say, "Yeah, I buy that." They went through eight years of insanity, trying to pin one thing and another on the Clintons, never coming to grips with how the country increasingly saw them as having taken leave of their senses. And they're ready to start it all over again.