When I was doing online research for yesterday's post on Chris Matthews and the Moonie media, I came across some information that is pertinent to better understanding the recent Moonie smear of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama by the Moonie-owned Insight magazine. I discovered that in the late 1990's, Hillary Clinton made an unwitting deal with the devil--the consequence of unforgivable cluelessness.
A Trip to the Land of Wingnuttia
In order to put Hillary's colossal strategic blunder in its proper context, it is necessary to take a quick trip to the Land of Wingnuttia (right-wing talk radio, Fox News, NewsMax, Old Time Gospel Hour sermons, Amway rallies, etc.). The standard narrative by the wingnut media is that Hillary is a ruthless operative who will do anything--including murder--to those who get in the way of her quest for power. Limbaugh was the champion of this view during the Clinton presidency--touting what is known as the Clinton Body Count. Roger Ailes also suggested that the Clintons were responsible for bumping off political foes or allies that became expendable (BTW, Ailes will be receiving a First Amendment award from the RTNDF). Jerry Falwell filled his coffers by selling tapes accusing the Clintons of being involved in drug smuggling and murder. Richard Mellon Scaife paid several operatives to weave fantastic tales about the Clintons' diabolical activities. This was also the theme of Richard Poe's book about Hillary and internet wingnuts.
This wingnut media used a variation of this narrative during the 2004 campaign. Limbaugh told the dittoheads that Hillary was trying to make sure that the Democratic presidential nominee didn't win so that she could be the nominee in 2008 and that any nominee who got in the way would face the same fate as Vince Foster. A watered-down version of Limbaugh's absurd narrative was picked up by Chris Matthews and others in the mainstream media. It continues to this day; before he interviewed Insight magazine's Jeffrey Kuhner, Sean Hannity referred to Hillary's "hit team" that was out to get Barack Obama.
These wingnut narratives are not only paranoid and loony, they completely miss the point about Hillary. Far from being the power-hungry and Machiavellian political tactician, Hillary doesn't seem to grasp elementary concepts of political strategy. She doesn't know the score.
Hillary's Lame Approach to the Moonie Media Apparatus in the Late 1990's
I recently found out about a fateful 1997 conversation between Hillary and one of Moon's operatives, Josette Sheeran Shiner, then the managing editor of Moon's Washington Times (at the time, Shiner was no longer a Moonie--at least that 's what she claims). When Hillary met Shiner at a function in 1997, Hillary suggested to Shiner that the Times start carrying Hillary's syndicated column. According to Shiner, "Hillary said to me `Hey--I want you to think about running my column!'" As a consequence, the Times began running Hillary's column.
Analysis of Hillary's Approach: I believe it is best to judge Hillary's actions in terms of what each party received in the transaction: What Hillary received: compensation from the Washington Times for running her column. What Shiner and the Moonie media apparatus received: legitimacy that money couldn't buy. Moon's media operatives already had much of the GOP in their hip pocket. For a Democratic First Lady to give her imprimatur to their rag must have thrilled Moon and his operatives. Hillary gave a big wet one to the quasi-newspaper that was fanning the flames of the Whitewater non-scandal (Shiner bragged to the Moonies about the Times' huge role in this). It was a complete rout for Moon. Hillary unwittingly became one of Moon's "secular conscripts" (click here and scroll down to the addendum).
The Hillary/Shiner chat led to the most lopsided exchange since the Brock/Broglio trade. Such an unequal relationship is hardly surprising; Steve Hassan, a former Moonie and expert on destructive cults, has pointed out that the modus operandi of cultists is to create an unequal relationship between themselves and their victims. For Hillary to express her wants and her need for acceptance to a cult operative like Shiner is the hallmark of appalling political ineptitude. With the recent smear by Moon's Insight magazine, Hillary is paying a price for it. I doubt that Hillary will ever learn--witness her recent cozying up to Murdoch. Let's face the facts: Hillary doesn't have a clue.
How Hillary and the Dems Should have Dealt with the Moonie Media Apparatus in the Late 1990's
Ten years ago, Hillary and national Democrats could have done a few simple things that would have made a big difference:
1) They could have refused to grant one iota of legitimacy to Moon or his media operatives. Hillary should not have befriended Shiner at the event in 1997. Neither Shiner nor any Moon operative is Hillary's friend.
2) They could have demanded that members of Congress follow up on the report from the Fraser Committee hearings of the late 1970's that Moon and his agents violated American law regarding immigration, foreign agents registration, taxes, charity fraud, etc.
3) When Nansook Hong's book on her ordeal with the Moon family was published in 1998, Congressional Democrats could have directed the INS to do an investigation of Hong's charges (read more about Hong's charges here).
4) They could have gone on the offensive with Republicans and members on the right who took money from Moon or his media operatives. Moon has spent $3 billion just on the Washington Times. Democrats could have made them pay a huge price for that support.
5) They could have taken James Whelan's lead and used the power of the subpoena to demand that Moon answer following questions: (1) Where did you get your money? (2) What are you spending it on? and (3) Why are you spending it on these things?
Had these steps been taken, not only would Hillary not have to be bogged down with the latest Insight smear but the political landscape would be entirely different. The Moonie media apparatus is an important component of what David Brock called "the Republican noise machine" (Brock's Media Matters documented this regarding the Madrassa smear). Had the above actions been taken, the Moonie media apparatus would have been seriously hamstrung--if not completely destroyed.
Are my arguments out of line? Since writing this post about why the Democrats are chumps for not going after Moon, I've thought about it for hours and I haven't thought of a single good reason for Democrats or progressives to grant an iota of legitimacy to Moon or his media outlets. I haven't thought of a single reason why Democrats shouldn't try to have Moon deported. I haven't thought of a single reason why Democrats shouldn't make a huge stink about the GOP cozying up to this deranged cult leader. I mean, let's get real, people. In a poll of Americans that ranked 155 famous people based on likeability, Moon finished 154 out of 155. What have Democrats been waiting for? For Moon to bypass number 155 (Charles Manson) before they lay a glove on him? Please, if anyone out there can think of one good reason why my strategy isn't sound and why Hillary's isn't completely bogus, then please e-mail me at email@example.com and let me in on it. Please, help me out on this. Is my head screwed on straight on this one?
UPDATE: Was Josette Shiner lurking on this web site? Also, someone from the Vatican was checking out this post.