Charlie Pierce looks at Secret Service lapses and notes that they're coming at a time when we have a president who's especially vulnerable:
It is now a given in all these stories that this particular president has come under threat with far more regularity than his predecessors did. The reasons why are obvious, but are held in such stories to be uncertain. (Oooh, oooh! Ask me! I know!). But the difference here is more than the simple quantification of the number of threats, and more than a simple question of who (failed to) let the dogs out. There has been an ongoing threat to this president from the moment his hand left the Bible in 2009. There has been a deliberate, concerted, and well-funded campaign to delegitimize him as the twice-elected president of the United States....What Obama has faced is mind-boggling, but I have to question that last assertion about Clinton. Pierce's link is to a blog post about Dinesh D'Souza, but all sorts of D'Souzas made a very nice living attacking Bill Clinton (and his wife) in the 1990s. A guy named Matt Drudge comes to mind. Also Ann Coulter, who made her bones (as it were) with a 1998 book titled High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton. How about David Brock, who, when he wasn't engaged in character assassination of Anita Hill, was writing much-read stories about "Troopergate," after which he receive a million-dollar book advance for a hatchet job on Hillary Clinton (which turned out not to be a hatchet job, as Brock had shifted to the left)?
Bill Clinton's legitimacy was challenged because he was a Democratic president who wasn't supposed to win. The attack on this president comes from a deeper and uglier place than that. This president's legitimacy has been challenged -- and repeatedly, openly denied -- because of who he is, not because of what party nominated him. Nobody doubted Bill Clinton's citizenship, or his fundamental Americanism, much less got rich doing so.
Let's look at this list of New York Times bestsellers from Regnery Publishing. (And how about the folks at Regnery -- didn't they cash in on Clinton?) There's Unlimited Access by Gary Aldrich, a #1 bestseller in 1996, in which we were told that Hillary Clinton decorated the White House Christmas tree with sex figurines and crack pipes. There were two books by Barbara Olson, Hell to Pay: The Unfolding Sory of Hillary Rodham Clinton and The Final Days: The Last, Desperate Abuses of Power by the Clinton White House. There was Boy Clinton by Emmett Tyrrell -- who did pretty well for himself trashing the president at The American Spectator. And on and on.
Did anyone question Bill Clinton's "fundamental Americanism"? Not to the extent of questioning his U.S. birth. But he was absolutely accused of being a traitor to his country, or at least being suspect, by no less than the president of the United States, when Clinton was running against that president:
President Bush tonight accused Gov. Bill Clinton of not telling the truth about his visit to Moscow as a student in the late 1960's and sharply criticized the Democratic nominee for demonstrating against the Vietnam War while he was studying in England....(And let's not even get into the later allegations of disloyalty to country known as "Chinagate.")
Asked by [CNN's Larry] King what he thought about Mr. Clinton visiting the Soviet Union while he was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford in 1969, Mr. Bush seemed to choose his words carefully....
"I don't want to tell you what I really think, because I don't have the facts," he said. "But to go to Moscow one year after Russia crushed Czechoslovakia, not remember who you saw? I really think the answer is, level with the American people."
... Mr. Bush said: "You can remember who you saw in the airport in Oslo, but you can't remember who you saw in the airport in Moscow? I say level with the American people on the draft, whether you went to Moscow, how many demonstrations he led against his country from a foreign soil. Level, tell the truth and then let the American voters decide."
Yes, it's true that Barack Obama has been charged with treason more often than Bill Clinton -- but that may be because right-wingers were too busy charging Clinton with rape, drug-dealing, and murder. There's a so-called Obama body count, but it's a pale imitation of the extraordinarily lengthy Clinton body count. And, of course, Clinton murder and drug-dealing allegations were peddled by Jerry Falwell, one of the most prominent figures on the religious right.
Race explains a lot of the Obama-hate out there. But I think, if things are worse for Obama, it's also partly because the vast right-wing conspiracy has grown bigger and more professionalized. In the 1990s, the right-wing noise machine was like Apple in the 1990s -- innovative, aggressive, and disruptive, but with a limited market share. Now it's like present-day Apple -- an industrial machine that generates Pavlovian drooling among well-trained consumers of its products every time it teases a new release.
And their next target has lady parts, which offers up a completely new set of opportunities for tapping into primal hatreds. Maybe it won't be as bad as it's been with Obama. Maybe it'll never be as bad. But it'll be bad.