This year, the left has gone cuckoo over the vast right-wing
conspiracy. Some have accused Republicans of having sabotaged Sen. Paul
Wellstone's plane. More mainstream liberals believe President Bush knew that
Sept. 11 would occur, but let it happen in order to justify attacking
Afghanistan and building an oil pipeline. Left-wingers across the board have
accused Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and other conservative media of waging a
concerted campaign to spur violence against liberals.
But there is one conspiracy the American left has either missed
or ignored. It is the only conspiracy that could truly undermine the agenda
of the Democrats over the next six years. That conspiracy seems to be the
brainchild of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Their plan seems simple enough. With Hillary as the leading
contender for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, the field must
be made clear -- which means that the Clintons are praying for a Bush win in
2004 and Republican gains in the House and Senate. Then, when Bush's two
terms are up, Hillary can resurrect the party and win the day for the
The Clintons are shrewd politicians. They know that if the
political pendulum swings far to the right over the next six years, it will
inevitably swing back to the left in 2008. With the midterm elections in
November going Republican and the pendulum swinging right, the Clintons can
make their move now. The plan would be to undercut the left, push the
pendulum even further right, and hope for a swing all the way back to
Hillary in six years.
Take, for instance, Al Gore's decision not to run in 2004. With
his popularity plummeting, Gore's withdrawal signaled the rise of a new
guard within the Democratic Party: John Kerry, John Edwards, Howard Dean and
Joseph Lieberman. These fresh faces were seen by party insiders as
candidates who could energize the base -- but if they run in 2004, they'll
be peaking far too early. Just about every political pundit in Washington
sees 2004 as a walk-away election for Bush. These new candidates were
perceived as the liberal hopes in 2008, while Al Gore was designated the
sacrificial lamb in 2004.
So why would the political leaders of the Democratic National
Committee be so happy about Gore dropping out? The Clintons pushed Al Gore
out the door to give all the New Democrats the opportunity to wipe each
other off the map in the 2004 election, opening the road to 2008. What about
a comeback by Gore in 2008? For some strange reason, after he dropped out of
the 2004 race, Gore was joking about 2016, not 2008, as the target date for
his political revival ("Gore at peace with decision not to run," CNN.com,
Dec. 16, 2002).
Indications seem to be that the Clintons pushed hard against a
Gore in '04 campaign. Bill Clinton's statement about Gore dropping out had
all the hallmarks of a Clinton hit: "He would have been a fine president had
history taken a different course two years ago." But it didn't, the
statement implies by exclusion -- so we'll drop him like a hot potato.
Hillary also got in her shots. Appearing on Chris Matthews'
"Hardball" on Nov. 20, Sen. Clinton refused five separate opportunities to
endorse Al Gore's campaign; instead, she continued to evade Matthews'
questions regarding a possible Gore candidacy.
Another example of Clinton sabotage: the Trent Lott debacle.
Democrats were set to gain major points in black and northern urban
Then, the Clintons quashed Democratic hopes for a big political
score. With one broad stroke, Hillary and Bill ripped away the Democratic
facade of righteous indignation about Lott and revealed liberal anger to be
nothing but political calculation. First, Bill said it was "pretty
hypocritical" of Republicans to pressure Lott into resigning his leadership
role, since Lott "just embarrassed them by saying in Washington what they do
on the back roads every day." Simultaneously, Hillary echoed him, saying
that Republicans were hypocrites since all Lott did "was state publicly what
many of them have stated privately over many years in the back roads and
back streets of the South."
It was a brutally unsubtle political move, one far too rough for
the politically adept Clintons. It's very unlikely this was a stumble -- its
effect fits right into the Clintons' plan. They squelched Democratic gains,
knowing that if the Democratic Party evened the tables too early, 2008 might
be too late for Hillary.
The Clintons value power above all; policy and party must take a
back seat. It is their ruthless desire for power that could make Bill and
Hillary secret allies of the Republicans until 2008.