DANIEL VAUGHAN: Clinton is projecting her conspiracies onto others

October 21, 2019

Listening to Hillary Clinton these days is like getting a first-class ticket to the deepest recesses of #Resistance fanfiction conspiracy theories.

For Clinton, it’s nothing new; it’s a long-standing tradition, going back to her days of complaining of a “vast right-wing conspiracy.” But her latest theories show us that a media so invested in attacking conspiracies on the right is less inclined to do the same with Clinton — and a much of this is just projection from the Clintonian establishment.

Let’s start with what happened: Hillary Clinton went on a podcast and talked about general politics. During that exchange, she launched a diatribe against Hawaii Congressman Tulsi Gabbard, saying the Russians were grooming her, according to The Washington Post, and asserting that Jill Stein was a Russian asset.

It’s how Clinton is connecting Russian interference in the 2016 election — and her belief that this interference cost her the race — with the current 2020 cycle.

There are vast right-wing conspiracies, she says, and now the Russian conspiracy plots are even more vast. Clinton has, of course, offered no proof for her accusations. She’s the aggrieved party from the 2016 cycle, so alone that gives her standing in the modern media landscape.

Still, that, by itself, isn’t overly newsworthy. Clinton has long lurched into far-left conspiracies of the 2016 election. It’s the kind of thing you see on far-left Tumblr or on Twitter by people with roses in their names.

What is noteworthy here is that the media, which is so quick to cover every conspiracy theory advanced by Donald Trump, isn’t doing the same in this situation. Just a few weeks ago, Vox was busy talking about the power of conspiracies on the right, and Business Insider created a listicle of all the conspiracies Trump has mentioned.

But I’m not expecting CNN to start posting chyrons during newscasts accusing Clinton of promoting conspiracy theories. They won’t hit her or anyone on the left with the same vitriol.

It is weird, though, that these people, who believe there’s a vast conspiracy coming from Russia on sites like Facebook, want to empower sites like Facebook with more control over news. That’s a strange ask to make of an organization you’ve accused of conspiratorial tendencies.

And these are conspiracy theories, we should note. Tulsi Gabbard is far from blameless here; she’s openly cavorted with Bashar al-Assad and appeared on Russian propaganda television networks. And Jill Stein is a known crackpot.

But that doesn’t make either of them Russian assets or figures getting groomed by Russian intelligence services.

You can make the case that Gabbard and Stein are stereotypical leftists on this front, and useful idiots for countries like Russia and Syria. But being a useful idiot — something the NBA has been for China the last few weeks — is far different than being a Russian asset.

Russia enjoys flexing its muscles to create trouble abroad, but there’s no evidence their Facebook ads flipped the election. Hillary Clinton advancing Russian conspiracy theories gives Vladimir Putin more power than he should get credit for, in reality.

Russia’s main goal wasn’t electing Donald Trump; their main goal is ripping American society apart and reducing American power abroad. Doing anything they could to inflame the rhetoric around Trump was good enough.

Gabbard, for her part, makes a pretty compelling case that Clinton’s attacks are coming from an attempt to smear Democrats who opposed Clinton in 2016. Gabbard was a part of the DNC leadership, according to Fox News, but after she saw the Clintonian corruption of the DNC establishment, she resigned and endorsed Bernie Sanders.

Clinton’s attacks don’t come from a person concerned about integrity in the process. She’s still keeping up a grudge list from 2016.

In short, in 2016, there was a conspiracy in the Democratic Party. The email troves released by WikiLeaks revealed that Clinton and her campaign actively used the DNC power to shut out any other candidates and hurt Bernie Sanders’ chances at winning the election. After losing in 2008, Clinton was bound and determined not to make the same primary mistakes.

There’s this thing in psychology, and you see it often in relationship studies, where a person who is doing something wrong will start accusing their partner of doing that very thing. So if one person is committing an affair, they slowly begin believing their marriage partner is actively engaging one too, with little proof. It’s a form of projection.

I can’t help but see the same thing here with Clinton. She sees conspiracies everywhere because she and her campaigns have tried so hard to commit conspiracies to ensure she was nominated and won races in the past.

We know the truth of 2016. Russia did interfere, but not in the theatrical ways Clinton and others paint it out to be. Russia dumped DNC emails — which mostly revealed the DNC was committing a conspiracy against the Sanders campaign — and spent some cash on Facebook ads on partisan issues on both sides of the political aisle. The goal was fomenting division and sowing distrust in the government.

Judging by conspiratorial tendencies of Clinton, she buys into this distrust sown by the Russians. But that’s probably more to do with her conspiratorial tendencies than with any truth.

It’d be nice for American politics to move on from the Clintons. They have an awful effect on it.

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Daniel Vaughan

Daniel Vaughan is a columnist for the Conservative Institute and lawyer in Nashville, Tennessee. He has degrees from Middle Tennessee State University and Regent University School of Law. His work can be found on the Conservative Institute's website, or you can receive his columns and free weekly newsletter at The Beltway Outsiders. Connect with him on Twitter at @dvaughanCI.