The Blumenthal Saga

To a certain long-in-the-tooth species of Clinton-hater, the appearance of Sid Blumenthal’s name on newly disclosed emails to Hillary Clinton was a big aha! moment where old grudges could be resurrected and pursued with new vigor. Sid, after all, fought off a perjury charge that was a byproduct of the star (or Starr) chamber proceedings against Bill Clinton, though it left him (as Joe Conason points out in a spirited defense of Blumenthal at Politico Magazine today) in deep hock to the lawyers. So the thought of being able to go after HRC by going after Sid once again was irresistible. Too bad most Americans have no interest in reliving those years.

In any event, all it took were a couple of misleading news stories to convince conservative media that Blumenthal might be the key to justifying the ten thousandth fishing expedition on Benghazi!, the “scandal” that won’t go away until Republicans control the White House.

As Conason notes, the evidence of any wrongdoing by Blumenthal is vanishingly absent. The “business interests in Libya” that got the initial headlines turn out to have been an emergency relief project that never got off the ground. This had nothing to do with the paid work he was doing for the Clinton Foundation. And there’s zero indication he asked Clinton for any favors from the State Department or the Obama administration, or received any. If Sid had had a different name, we wouldn’t be hearing about any of this.

His real abiding crime in the eyes of conservatives and even more so the MSM was his association with the phrase “vast right-wing conspiracy,” with which he reportedly infected HRC before her public use of the term in 1998 to describe the ubiquity and intensity of media attacks on her husband. At the time even Clinton supporters though this was more than a little over-the-top. Now it’s the most common-place, even banal, of descriptions, one that, in fact, Sid’s tormenters are confirming in this very instance. It hardly seems fair that for this highly prophetic “sin”–one might even say an utterance dismissed because it was “politically incorrect”–Blumenthal keeps being treated as a “cartoon villain,” as James Fallows aptly describes the caricature in his own defense of Sid.

It’s time to give the Sid-baiting a rest. It’s an embarrassing relic of the failed effort to force Bill and Hillary Clinton out of the White House.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.