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Clintons v. Christie: Equals in Thuggery?

Clintons v. Christie: Equals in Thuggery?

Let’s say Chris Christie survives the bridge scandal and does go on to become the 2016 GOP nominee. It’s looking less likely, but let’s just say it for the sake of this column. And let’s say he does end up facing Hillary Clinton. A clash of titans. A death-match of icons. And most of all, given what we’ve just learned about Christie and what we’ve known about the Clintons for 20 years, a squaring off of two of the most ruthless political machines of our time. Right?

That’s what a lot of political journalists are going to write and a lot of hosts are going to scream on TV. And maybe it’s a just harmless way to get people not to change the channel. But let’s take a look at these mighty, terrible machines. We’ll see some important differences.

It turns out, according to a new book excerpted in Politico, that two Clinton aides kept an enemies list, comprised of the pols whom the Clintons had helped over the years who then went off and endorsed Barack Obama. The Clintons seethed, plotting their revenge. They, you see, will stop at nothing. You know the story, you’ve been hearing it for two decades.

There is a small problem, however, which is that the Politico excerpt, overheated as it is in certain passages, can’t muster a single allegation that the Clintons ever did anything with this list beyond read it. Actually, it doesn’t even assert that. So this whole list business may have been limited to aides. In any case nowhere does the excerpt allege that the Clintons ever tried to do political harm to anyone who crossed them.

The worst offender by their lights was Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill. Bill and Hillary had supported her strongly in 2006 (as had Obama). But during that year, McCaskill said something on Meet the Press about keeping Bill away from her daughter.

The Clintons were steamed. And what did they do about it? Oh, the horror. Bill was “gracious” to McCaskill during a phone call, according to the story. As for Hillary, McCaskill tried to avoid even having to run into her in the Senate, but eventually Hillary scheduled a lunch and was sweetness itself. When McCaskill endorsed Obama, the Clintons were hurt and felt betrayed, but the article offers no evidence that anybody lifted a finger to try to visit harm upon McCaskill’s career in any way.

On and on the article goes, listing various slights the Clintons endured as first this one and then that one whom they’d helped over the years endorsed Obama, and as the Clintons go on to do…exactly nothing to any of these people. So beyond two aides keeping a list, and the Clintons feeling (understandably) miffed at this and that pol, not a thing actually happened. Yet the story is headlined “Hillary’s Hit List,” which is clearly meant to do a lot of heavy sinister implying, and this idea that “she” “kept” such a list is going to become mixed in to the cement of the conventional wisdom.

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