Washington: The only real question left to answer about Hillary Clinton’s plans for 2016 is not whether she will run for the White House, but whether she will stop running.
Although she will not make a formal announcement about her candidacy until after the mid-term elections in November, her current book tour looks a lot like a rolling campaign launch. The shadow campaign architecture being constructed around her is already formidable. It includes independent political action committees operating and raising money outside her orbit as well as her own team of advisers.
Some of those who have signed on include veterans of Bill Clinton’s campaigns and administration, as well as her own campaign in 2008 and, even more tellingly, of US President Barack Obama’s two campaigns. This includes Jim Messina, who masterminded Obama’s last campaign and its crucial big-data machine.
It is not surprising, then, that the attacks on her have ramped as well. Although Republicans have no clear candidate, some of the party’s establishment figures, people such as Karl Rove, have already opened fire, as though testing weapons for the battle to come. He and his ilk have been lobbing political grenades, some fair, some not. Others are attacking Clinton’s record as a lawyer, first lady, senator and secretary of state.
And then there are those who appear to be driven by the visceral hatred the Clintons have always inspired in some quarters of the conservative movement, tilting at windmills or frantically unearthing conspiracy theories.
Here is a selection:
1. Clinton was a heartless defence lawyer
This story was unearthed recently by the right-leaning Washington Free Beacon, which found recordings of an interview Clinton did with an Arkansas reporter in the 1980s. In it she tells the story of her defence of an accused child rapist in the 1970s. She laughs after explaining how she had his sentence reduced by successfully challenging the evidence. "You can still vote for her if you’d like," wrote one commentator after the story broke earlier this week. "But no justifying here. It’s an insult to those who have been victims."
2. Clinton suffered brain damage while Secretary of State
This theory that has been floated more than once by Karl Rove, the architect of George W. Bush’s campaign, since Clinton suffered a blood clot in late 2012. Last week he told Fox News. "This health incident was so serious that she had to spend six months of really hard work to overcome the after effect of it … Her State Department PR apparatus said, 'No, no, no, no problem, she's over this in 30 days' ... and then she shows up with these fractal glasses that you have to wear if you got vision problems as a result of a traumatic concussion."
3. Clinton faked the blood clot
According to this line of attack Clinton does not have brain damage because she faked the blood clot to avoid testifying before a congressional hearing about the assault by militants on the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans while she was secretary of state.
Republicans have criticised both US President Barack Obama and Clinton over the assault in Libya, although for different reasons. It is argued that immediately after the attack the administration lied by saying it was provoked by an inflammatory film that was already causing riots across the region. Some Republicans believe that this was an example of Obama trying to reinforce his message that al-Qaeda had been largely defeated. Current evidence suggests that the attack was related to the video. Others blame Clinton for not providing adequate protection for the outpost. On the fringes of the conservative movement many believe unknown actors within the State Department ordered available US forces to "stand down" rather than defend the outpost. Some even believe Obama and/or Clinton masterminded the attack.
5. Clinton is too old
Clinton will be 69 before election day in 2016 and many opponents have emphasised this, noting that Democrats used age against John McCain and Ronald Reagan in their campaigns. Non-partisan commentators have raised the issues of Clinton’s age and health, speculating that if she eventually decides not to run, this would be the reason.
6. Clinton will want to be a grandmother
Ever since Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, announced she was pregnant there has been speculation she might forgo her political ambitions to enjoy her grandchild. During her appearance in DC this week Clinton noted that many grandfathers had served as president.
7. Clinton is a bad feminist
This is a point that has been made on and off since the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Many believe that in defending her husband and particular for criticising Lewinsky, Clinton revealed herself to be a bad feminist. This attack was revived in 2012 when it was revealed that some years ago a female Democratic senator, Claire McCaskill, had said of Bill Clinton in 2006: "I think he's been a great leader but I don't want my daughter near him." This attack has already been revived this week after the revelations about the Clinton’s defence of the accused rapist.
THE OTHER SILLY STUFF
8. Muslim Brotherhood suspicions
According to allegations by Tea Party-backed congresspeople including Michele Bachmann, the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the US government. In letters to government inspectors-general, their representatives named a long-time Clinton aide who was then serving as the State Department deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin. They offered no grounds for their suspicions of her.
9. Vince Foster allegation
A former aide in the Clinton White House who committed suicide was actually murdered because he was having an affair with Hillary Clinton, according to former Indiana Republican congressman Dan Burton and Accuracy in Media founder Reed Irvine.
10. UN takeover theory
According to former Bill Clinton aide and Fox News commentator Dick Morris, secretary of state Clinton planned a United Nations takeover of the internet, to be paid for by a secret tax on American billionaires.
11. Grandmother by schedule
According to a rumour spread by Howard Kurtz of Fox News, Chelsea Clinton became pregnant at the behest of her mother, who believes the public will like her more as a grandmother.
12. Flying shoe conspiracy
According to Rush Limbaugh and former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, Clinton paid a mentally unstable woman to throw a shoe at her while she was giving a speech in Las Vegas.
13. Lesbian claim
Hillary Clinton is a lesbian and her marriage is sham, according to the former editor-in-chief of The New York Times Magazine, Edward Klein, the author of The Truth About Hillary: What She Knew, When She Knew It, and How Far She'll Go to Become President.