This essay was first published on BNR in January, 2016, and amassed more than half a million shares, making it the most popular article about Hillary Clinton of the campaign. It is reprinted below in full and updated for the general election. (UPDATE: This version has more than 230,000 shares, demonstrating the enduring demand for content that challenges pervasive anti-Clinton narratives.)
Democrats are sick and tired of the endless lies about Hillary Clinton, the character attacks, the distortions of her record, the contorted caricature portrayed in the media. They want an unfiltered connection to her without the prism of GOP-style talking points and false frames.
If the headline of this piece blows some minds, you can thank three decades of relentless lies and smears by the conservative attack machine and its corporate media enablers, who have labored to create an aura of corruption around Hillary Clinton. Her detractors on the right, left and center reel off a laundry list of unsupported accusations with an air of absolute authority, as though it is simply a given that she is a terrible, horrible, no-good human being.
And that is precisely the intention: Taint her through innuendo and guilt-by-association, throw enough dirt at her that voters develop an instant negative association with her name. Accuse, accuse, accuse until the accusation becomes the reality, and may the truth be damned.
Karl Rove, the Koch brothers, and billionaire conservative moneymen like Paul Singer have spent inordinate sums to paint a malignant picture of Hillary, using sophisticated propaganda techniques to render her toxic to the American electorate.
Sadly, too many on the left imbibe and regurgitate these fabricated narratives. They are joined by corporate media operatives with personal vendettas, whose venomous words reveal more about their own failings than about Hillary.
But the fact is this: no one has ever produced an iota of evidence that Hillary has behaved improperly because of a campaign contribution. No one has produced a scintilla of proof that there is a quid pro quo when it comes to her speaking fees. From Whitewater to Benghazi to her emails, nobody can point to a single instance of corruption or wrongdoing on Hillary Clinton’s part.
None. Zero. Ever.
The most they have are votes and positions they disagree with or mistakes for which she has expressed regret. And even there, the false frames are tossed around with no regard for facts. During the Democratic primaries, Hillary’s critics portrayed Bernie Sanders as pure good and Hillary as pure evil. That’s hogwash. They are both politicians who make judgments and adopt positions, some of which we agree with, others we don’t.
Hillary’s Republican opponent, Donald Trump, has spent a year hurling insults at people who disagree with him. He has embraced intolerance as a platform. He has a shameful history of demeaning and degrading women. He lashes out at reporters in the most personal terms whenever he is questioned. He lacks even the most rudimentary preparedness for the office he seeks. He has a self-admittedly vindictive temperament which is profoundly ill-suited for the presidency. He has called our sitting president a terrorist and threatened Hillary’s life. Yet astonishingly, he receives less (yes, less) negative coverage than she does, according to two independent studies.
No matter how shocking this may sound to Hillary’s professional critics – those who spend their time condescendingly mocking anyone who says a good word about her – Hillary is an upstanding, principled and dignified leader who has survived the most intrusive, invasive, aggressive and unending vetting process in political history.
Time and again, she has emerged with her integrity intact. In the words of the Des Moines Register, which endorsed her in January, “Clinton has demonstrated that she is a thoughtful, hardworking public servant who has earned the respect of leaders at home and abroad. She stands ready to take on the most demanding job in the world.”
Having worked with Hillary for three years as an adviser and seen her approach to life and politics, having watched her as a mom and daughter, as a friend to so many people, I know that the rightwing caricature of her is an offensive distortion and I feel personally compelled to speak the truth and to fight the slander.
It is gratifying to Hillary’s friends and supporters (and infinitely vexing to her detractors) that millions of Americans see through the spin and connect to Hillary on a personal level. These are the voters across America who are poised to carry her to the White House in November, sending a monumentally important and inspiring message to women and girls across the globe.