Wingnut Week In Review: Trump’s Tinfoil Hat Campaign

Terrance Heath

Proving once and for all that he truly has not one shred of decency in him, Donald Trump has traded in his red trucker hat for a tinfoil hat. The sad and frightening part is that he’ll probably get away with it.

Claiming that he was “just asking the question,” Trump dredged up the thoroughly discredited claim that the Clintons murdered Vince Foster.

Foster, who spent part of his childhood living across the street from Bill Clinton, became the White House Deputy Counsel when the Clintons came to Washington, DC. It was the latest in a long list of accomplishments, including serving as the manager of the law review and graduating first in his class at the University of Arkansas, and being named Outstanding Lawyer of the Year by the Arkansas Bar Association in 1993. He joined the Rose Law Firm in 1971, where he fought to hire Hillary Rodham as the firm’s first female attorney.

When several Clinton nominees — Zoe Baird, Kimba Wood, and Lani Guinier — ran into trouble during the confirmation process, Foster blamed himself, and took it hard when right-wingers in Washington and in the media started questioning his integrity and judgement. He reportedly suffered anxiety, insomnia, and depression as a result of the job. Exactly six months into the Clinton administration, Foster took his own life.

Bill Clinton lost a childhood friend, Hillary Clinton lost mentor, and Foster’s family lost a husband and father. But there was barely time to mourn before the Clintons’ political enemies ginned up a full-fledged “Vince Foster murder scenario.” The right-wing media was off and running.

That’s the legacy Trump resurrected when he invoked Foster’s death to escalate his attacks on Bill Clinton, calling Foster’s death “very fishy,” and allegations of the Clintons’ involvement “very serious,” claiming that Foster “had intimate knowledge” of everything the Clintons were alleged to have been involved in — including dozens of murders.

Foster’s sister, Sheila Foster Anthony broke her silence to call Trump’s cynical use of her brother’s death for political gain “beyond contempt.” Recounting the five investigations which all found that Foster suffered from depression that caused him to suffer anxiety, depression, insomnia, and ultimately led him to take his life, Ms. Foster Anthony describes how Foster’s family fought for years to prevent the release of photographs of his body, and how their mother was “plagued by harassing phone calls from a reporter.” She concludes, “For Trump to raise these theories again for political advantage is wrong. I cannot let such craven behavior pass without a response.”

If you lived through the 1990s, you probably remember the mind numbing number of conspiracy theories that right-wing Republicans whipped up around Bill and Hillary Clinton. A dozen years before a Bush administration aide foretold that conservatives would “create our own realities,” and leave the rest of us in the “reality-based community” to study them, Republican’s brought far-flung right-wing conspiracies in to the mainstream.

Fervently believed by wide-eyed devotees of right-wing talk-radio, and later Fox News, these surreal tales painted the Clinton’s as gratuitously evil villains. Conspiracy theorists attributed to them a body count to rival any Shakespearean tragedy, and tried to turn Hillary into Lady Macbeth. Actually, their portrayal of Hillary Clinton made Lady Macbeth look like Mother Theresa.

It was easy to laugh at these conspiracy theories, at first. My friends and I joked at the time, “Sure, Hillary Clinton killed Vince Foster! Then she hopped in the Bat Mobile and sped away to have lattes with Cat Woman and the Joker.” But then Republicans took over Congress and these conspiracy theories from the right-wing fever swamps became the subjects of costly congressional hearings and investigations.

It’s even less funny now, in the era of “post-truth” politics, where It hardly matters if the whole thing is absurd. (It has to be when even a conspiracy theorist like Glenn Beck finds it laughable.) It matters that it gets released into the atmosphere, to have its intended effect. Trump, who has invoked other Clinton scandals that came to a dead-end decades ago, said that Foster shouldn’t be mentioned on the campaign trail unless new information surfaces. His words only ensure that Foster will be mentioned on the campaign trail, and that before long another legion of “truthers” will be claiming to have new “evidence.”

For all that, he may get away with it. If Trump’s game plan is to create such a fog of scandal around Clinton that it draws attention away from his own HUGE negatives, it’s just possible that it might work for him.

Here’s the best of the rest of the worst in wingnuttery this week:

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