Hillary Clinton doesn’t talk much to reporters and when she does, she reveals as little as possible. But she revealed plenty when she described Sidney Blumenthal as “an old friend.”
It’s hardly surprising Blumenthal is a friend of Hillary’s. For her, his combination of viciousness and weakness for conspiracy theories must be irresistible. What’s interesting is that Clinton admits to the friendship.
I’ve heard it said that Blumenthal’s legendary viciousness was a response to attacks against the Clintons during the 1990s — “the Clinton Wars,” as he calls them — which featured some pretty wild conspiracy allegations against the First Couple. Don’t believe it.
During the 1980s, Blumenthal became alarmed by the rise of conservatism as an intellectual-political movement. As a reporter for the Washington Post, he attacked those whom he viewed as in the vanguard of that movement, especially, it seemed, if they happened to be Jewish. Among his targets were Elliott Abrams (who, Blumenthal thought, didn’t take John Lennon’s death seriously enough), Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen, and David Horowitz, who writes about Sid’s viciousness here.
Michael Ledeen and his wife Barbara would again experience that viciousness in the late 1990s, when Blumenthal was working for the Clintons. By this time, Barbara had established the Independent Women’s Forum, which ripped Hillary for, among other things, kowtowing to China in spite of the Chinese government’s deplorable treatment of women (e.g., forced abortions).
Blumenthal’s vehicle for attacking the Ledeens, and many other conservatives, was a lawsuit he filed against Matt Drudge, who had accused Sid of beating his wife (Drudge would retract the accusation). Blumenthal had his lawyer subpoena for deposition Michael and Barbara Ledeen and approximately two dozen other critics of the Clintons. He also subpoened the records of the Independent Women’s Forum.
Blumenthal’s purposes were two-fold. First, he wanted to harass the Clintons’ critics. Second, he wanted to conduct a fishing expedition into “the vast right wing conspiracy” that he and Hillary had invented.
Michael Ledeen responded by having the transcript of his deposition, which went badly for Blumenthal, posted online. He also responded with a priceless “open letter” to the other conservatives — “the Blumenthal 25,” as he called them — who had been summoned by Sid’s attorney.
Here, with almost no edits, is the text of that letter:
I thought you might be wondering what Sidney Blumenthal has in mind by calling you to testify in his libel suit against Matt Drudge, and since Barbara and I have already been through it, our experiences will help you prepare.
As usual with the bizarre folks that work in the Clinton/Clinton/Gore White House, their announced intentions have very little to do with their real schemes.
Yes, you will be asked whether you know the source of Drudge’s short-lived story that Sidney beat his wife, but that doesn’t take long to answer (we didn’t know anything at all about it), and you should expect several more hours of questioning. These subsequent questions will have to do with you, your family, your friends, your associates, and, if you have written or broadcast anything, with your opinions.
Remember when Sidney stood on the courthouse steps during the Starr grand jury investigation into Clinton’s lies about Monica? Sidney falsely accused the Starr people of asking him about his conversations with journalists. He piously declaimed that he would never have believed, in this country that so values freedom of the press, that he would be asked about such things.
He wasn’t. But he’s going to ask you about your conversations with journalists (no doubt some of you are on the list of 25 because we “outed” you as journalists with whom we had spoken). And he’ll be asking you about anything you ever wrote or said critical of Sidney (with me, he tried to deconstruct the word “consigliere,” since I had suggested that Sidney was one of Clinton’s consiglieri), as well as your secret thoughts about Sidney.
We were both asked if we hated him; I was asked if I thought he was qualified for his White House position (I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but my own view is that Sidney is superbly qualified to work for the Clintons).
You might wonder why he asks all these outrageous questions. I think he sees this as an opportunity to fill in the details of his favorite fantasy: the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.
You and I know that it’s madness, but he really believes it (not for nothing do his cohorts call him “Grassy Knoll Blumenthal”), and you’ve made his suspect list. That’s why he wants to know whom you talk to.
Technically, of course, it won’t be Sidney himself, it will be his legal mouthpiece, an attorney from Baltimore named McDaniel (although Sidney and his wife were both present for our depositions, and Sidney passed little scribbles to his lawyer from time to time). McDaniel is one of those attorneys who thinks that you can be shaken and intimidated by the asking of nasty questions in an aggressive manner. McDaniel’s going to make you as uncomfortable as he can; he wouldn’t let Barbara get a glass of water when she got thirsty.
Think of it as an opportunity to show the American people what sort of frauds work in the White House nowadays. Sidney poses as a defender of free and open journalism, but his actions show he’s just the opposite. I’d be grateful if you all insist that the depositions be open to the public (he refused when we requested it). If he says no, then ask that a pool reporter be permitted to attend (he refused that one, too. . .).
And when you’re done, do what we did: Get the transcript from the court stenographer, and post it on the Net. Sidney doesn’t want everyone to know what he’s really up to; he demanded that the judge forbid any future posting. Don’t let him get away with it. Last time I checked the First Amendment was still on the books.
Sidney Blumenthal has re-entered our consciousness just in time to remind us what a Hillary Clinton presidency would be like. The notion of a “new” Hillary Clinton was always implausible. Now, as Rich Lowry says, “it’s impossible to credit ‘the new Hillary’ so long as she is dependent on the same old cronies.”