Former President Bill Clinton was wrong when he said that the power of the “vast right-wing conspiracy” targeting President Obama has diminished, author and blogger Dave Neiwert says.
Speaking on MSNBC’s Countdown Monday night, Neiwert, who is managing editor of the Crooks and Liars blog, told guest host Lawrence O’Donnell that conservative attacks against Obama are more virulent, and are spreading faster than they did during the Clinton era.
“I think [Clinton] may be thinking of the actual power the American right holds in the country right now,” Neiwert said. “They’re pretty much out of power right now, and from ’94 on that wasn’t the case for [Clinton].”
Neiwert continued: “What’s really striking … is to look at what was happening to him and compare it to Obama at this early stage of the presidency — the complete sort of nuttery coming out of the right wing right now, this was something that didn’t start happening to Clinton until ’94 or ’95, and didn’t happen on a massive basis until ’98 or ’99.”
Neiwert argued that the claims early on in the Obama administration that the president would “take our guns away” is rooted in the Clinton administration’s attempts to enact gun control. That was “a large part of what fueled the militia movement and the paranoiac black-helicopter crowd that we saw so much of in the 90s.”
That movement culminated in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, for which right-wing extremist Timothy McVeigh was convicted.
“A lot of the sort of hateful talk that we’re seeing now had its origins in that movement,” Neiwert said. “The important thing to understand is that, in the ’90s, the people saying this stuff were marginal figures … [who] were doing it to small crowds of people. Now we have Glenn Beck repeating stuff … to an audience of millions.”
Host O’Donnell had begun the segment with a polemic that declared, “Unfortunately for Mr. Obama, the right wing has not only survived, it has thrived and expanded.”
He added: “Mr. Clinton, we have some 21st-century news for you here: The vast right wing conspiracy is not shrinking, it is growing.”
O’Donnell listed off a litany of right-wing talking points in recent months — the “death panels” argument, the uproar over the beating of a white student by black students, the “pulling the plug on grandma” claim — as signs the right wing is surging, “with [Rush] Limbaugh, [Glenn] Beck and [Sean] Hannity providing a constant echo.”
This video is from MSNBC’s Countdown, broadcast Sept. 28, 2009.