Last week, Donald Trump continued his erratic campaign trajectory — handing his campaign over to the nuts and grifters of breitbart.com, insulting black people, defying Louisiana’s governor to visit flood-ravaged Baton Rouge and hand out Play-Doh for a minute, etc. Meanwhile the Never Trump movement continued to fade, making Trumpism the new conservatism, GOP-wise.
What’s a rightblogger to do? Recoil like Dorian Gray from the shameful orange avatar in his attic, and reassess his philosophy?
Not likely. They’re instead refocusing on the important things — like telling readers about Hillary Clinton’s many debilitating illnesses.
Even anti-Trump rightbloggers agree that Hillary Clinton is evil incarnate, and must be opposed even if Trump becomes Maximum Leader in consequence.
So when Trump says something nutty about Clinton — for example, that Obama and Clinton are the co-founders of ISIS — while the Trumpier rightbloggers roar approval (“WERE OBAMA AND HILLARY FOUNDERS OF ISIS? YOU BET” — breitbart.com), the more housebroken conservatives either offer gentle demurrers (“it only works as an exaggerated metaphor and it allows his opponents to paint him as unhinged and uninformed” — Jim Geraghty, National Review), or give Trump E for Effort (“Trump’s battling Media Privilege” — Austin Bay of Instapundit).
That, despite their hatred, Clinton appears to be running ahead of Trump, the brethren can always put down to media bias. And the unorthodox Trump campaign makes this easier to do: The unprecedented volume of bullshit Trump comes up with on a regular basis has made negative stories not only easy but indeed obligatory to print, and some outlets have actually taken to fact-checking Trump on the fly, which innovation has enraged the brethren.
“American journalism is collapsing in front out our eyes,” howled Michael Goodwin in a typical column at the New York Post. “The shameful display of naked partisanship by the elite media is unlike anything seen in modern America.” Yet, after sixty years of fever-pitch, liberal-media-bias complaints, who’s Goodwin going to convince anymore? His readers already believe the media is thoroughly liberal/evil, and everyone else wonders how such a buffoon as Trump can possibly be slandered.
Rightbloggers aren’t just convinced the media is biased against Trump. They also affect to believe they let Hillary Clinton get away with murder. This ignores the avalanche of negative press she’s received: For example, the New York Times — which Goodwin called “out of the closet as a Clinton shill” — has, since Clinton declared her candidacy in April, published dozens of stories addressing Clinton Foundation issues — including “Possible Conflict at Heart of Clinton Foundation,” “Emails Renew Questions About Clinton Foundation and State Dept. Overlap,” and — just last weekend! — “Foundation Ties Bedevil Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Campaign.”
When top conservative host Hugh Hewitt asked on Twitter for “pointers, please, to any sustained, serious inquiry by MSM into #ClintonFoundation,” the Wall Street Journal’s Bryan Tau was able to send him twelve such WSJ stories, apparently off the top of his head. (Hewitt had no alternative but to express gratitude.)
Nonetheless, rightbloggers remain convinced, and continue with their own investigations — for example, of how Hillary can’t walk or stand and has some unrevealed major disease(s).
Some of these assertions are based on a photo of Clinton being helped up some steps (“The questionable health condition of Hillary Clinton should be a major issue of the 2016 campaign” — Kyle Olson, American Mirror). Others cite the long-distance medical diagnoses of dubious medicos (“LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS, MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS: THERE’S SOMETHING SERIOUSLY WRONG WITH HILLARY CLINTON’S HEALTH” — breitbart.com; “HILLARY CLINTON MAY HAVE A BRAIN TUMOR: BOARD CERTIFIED MD/PSYCHIATRIST” — Alex Jones).
It’s all very supermarket-tabloid and most of these slurs have been promoted by the fringier rightbloggers, but now even more mainstream (relatively speaking) outlets have begun picking up on it, too.
“[The Washington Post’s] Ruth Marcus is Very Upset over anyone daring to question the health of Hillary Clinton,” taunted William Teach of Right Wing News, “because no one should question the Queen, and it makes her sick. Especially since Ruth drags in the sexxxxxism card.”
Teach insisted that Clinton’s health was “a valid concern due to all the falls, the inability to walk up stairs, wearing long jackets to cover the adult diapers (as some have hintimated [sic]), special glasses to deal with double vision, a possible brain aneurysm, strange head ticks…”
If you’ve seen Clinton on TV and haven’t noticed any of these alleged symptoms, you obviously haven’t been using the right “special glasses” yourself, rightbloggers suggest. For example, haven’t you noticed there’s always a stool onstage when Hillary appears before crowds? That’s obviously because she’s deathly ill. “Tired Hillary Clinton is no stand up candidate — she always has a stool!” analyzed the Daily Mail. If it still doesn’t seem obvious, would a hashtag convince you? (“Now you’ll never stop noticing that sick Hillary Clinton always has a stool to rest on nearby [#HillarysStools]” — Danger and Play). How about a Twitter account called @hillarysstools? Come on, this is evidence!
The dumber of the bunch have taken to interpreting meaningless events as signs of advanced disease. You may remember when Bill and Hillary Clinton famously acted fascinated by the balloons at the end of the Democratic Convention (maybe balloons polled well, who knows). Jim Hoft, titled royalty among rightbloggers, declared Hillary’s balloon O-face to be evidence of “a seizure,” which the “liberal media ignored.”
Hoft also announced that “with all of the reports and articles on Hillary Clinton’s declining health Briviact seizure treatment drug ads are popping up on Hillary Clinton online articles” — which, if I’m reading his implication properly, says something new and disturbing about Rick Santorum.
The smarter of the bunch pretend to be above this sort of thing while spreading it. “I’ve wondered about her health for a long while now,” said Steven Hayward of Power Line. “She disappears for days at a time from the campaign trail (again this week for four days), apparently to ‘rest.’ Her persistent hacking cough is a curious thing… And what was that extra long bathroom break in the primary debate about anyway?”
Nonetheless Hayward noted that “some conservatives are trading on falsified health records” — then went into a long riff about how FDR deceived the public about being sick in 1944: “loyalty to the boss outweighed truthfulness to the American people, which sounds like the Clinton M.O. for sure.” That’s the difference between a bullshit artist and a bullshit master, my friends.
Trump functionaries such as Katrina Pierson have also been spreading these stories, but the campaign seems now to be moving it up the ladder: On Sunday, Rudy Giuliani, one-time GOP Presidential frontrunner and Serious Person, told Fox News viewers to “go online and put down ‘Hillary Clinton illness’ and take a look at the videos for yourself.”
The main problem with this approach is the length of the campaign: The longer Clinton persists on the trail without lapsing into a coma, the less believable these stories will appear. But that hardly matters. It’s not any one specific talking point, but the noise generated by a concatenation of several of them at once that contributes to (and feeds off) a general sense of Clinton’s trustworthiness — as it has since the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy began playing this game decades ago.
Considering how long and viciously they’ve been at it, it’s a miracle Clinton’s doing as well as she is. The question is: Can rightbloggers achieve in three months what they haven’t been able to achieve in 25 years?