Monday, February 11, 2008

Conspiracy Theories a Go Go

Now that it's relatively quiet on the Western front of World War Hillary, it's time to let a few conspiracy theories and random zaniness grab some attention. Thus, totally irresponsible and unwarranted analysis will accumulate here for the next few hours.
  • Mark Hemingway at National Review Online warns that Hillary Clinton hasn't lost the nomination yet:
    Still, Hillary is not a natural like Obama. By this point in the campaign cycle she’s polished enough, though it’s hard not to shake the feeling she’s auditioning for something. Her meticulous hand motions are obviously coached, as is the way her voice drops to convey her astonishment at some fact or story she’s told dozens of times.

    Nothing she does or says on the stump is particularly inspirational, but her skills in retail politics exude a confidence that make it seem that if someone as divisive as Hillary Clinton can master the art of making people like her, she can tackle any problem.

    We don’t know yet if that will take her all the way to the White House. But for now, it’s good enough to get soccer moms to jump out of their seats and dance, and that’s all she needs to do to keep Obama at bay.
    On general principles, I think it's safe to say that until the Electoral College actually announces the election of a new president who isn't Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton is still "in it to win it". Even if Barack Obama wins the Democratic party nomination, he doesn't really think that the Clinton's are going to stop messing with him, does he? Call it Clintonfreude: the vicarious pleasure that one receives when Bill Clinton f**ks with someone and it makes the national news. You can practically read the headlines already: "Bill Clinton Upstages Obama at Dem Convention", "Bill Clinton Calls For Wife to Replace Obama on Ballot", "Bill Clinton Lobbies Electoral College on Wife's Behalf".


  • The best Clintonfreude conspiracy theory that I've seen so far is the idea that Bill Clinton is actually passively-aggressively undermining his wife's campaign:
    So here’s a crazy theory that occurred to me the other day, and that gets more plausible the more I think about it: [Bill] Clinton’s comments [comparing Obama to Jesse Jackson] were calculated, but they may have been more sinister than even the activist I met knows. Clinton–perhaps subconsciously–was sabotaging his wife’s campaign.

    Crazy? Maybe. But bear with me, here. Clinton had to have known that marginalizing Obama wouldn’t work. He knows Obama is a talented politician, that he isn’t a demagogue like Jackson, and that he has already demonstrated that he can attract white voters in large swaths–Obama certainly didn’t win Iowa by dominating the black vote, did he?

    So why would Clinton do it? Well, maybe he doesn’t want his wife to be president.
    Could this possibly be true? Would a respected two-term former president really sabotage the election of the most talented female politician of her generation -- possibly doing irrevocable damage to his party in the process -- for nothing more honorable than swinging the balance of power over the family cookie jar in his direction?

    I'm afraid to say that my gut answer just has to be no. This theory is just too gratifyingly Clintonfreude to be plausible. Also keep in mind that if she wins the election, Hillary Clinton is going to need Bill's frat-boy hijinks to neutralize John McCain's "Maverick" fighter-jockery. Letting Bill off the leash might therefore serve as a useful reminder to her enemies between now and November.


  • Of course, even Obamamania seems relatively sane when compared to religious mania such as the present-day exorcism craze:
    POCZERNIN, Poland -- This wind-swept village is bracing for an invasion of demons, thanks to a priest who believes he can defeat Satan.

    The Rev. Andrzej Trojanowski, a soft-spoken Pole, plans to build a "spiritual oasis" that will serve as Europe's only center dedicated to performing exorcisms. With the blessing of the local Catholic archbishop and theological support from the Vatican, the center will aid a growing number of Poles possessed by evil forces or the devil himself, he said.
    Yes, otherwise intelligent, rational people want to spend a large sum of money to protect Europe from an invasion of invisible minds in search of brains. One would also think that "dual-use" institutions that could police both humans and the supernatural would make more sense. A zombie-control center that could double as an anti-riot police headquarters during political protests might come in handy. An anti-vampire "hit squad" could have any number of alternative employments. But training a cadre of priests to sit around with holy water while waiting for Grandma's powerball lotto winnings to attract Satan just doesn't seem cost effective to me.


  • The Spanish inquisition: it didn't want to destroy Judaism, it just wanted to make Judaism "better":
    If the Spanish Inquisition was, as historian Henry Charles Lea once described it, theocratic absolutism at its worst, one can only conclude that this is an astonishingly positive testimony on behalf of theocratic absolutism. It is testimony to the strange vagaries of history that it should be the Spanish Inquisition that remains notorious today, even though the 6,832 members of the Catholic clergy murdered in the Spanish Republican Red Terror of 1936 is more than twice the number of the victims of 345 years of inquisition.
    The author's point seems to be that judicial murder is much more civilized than open partisan warfare. What a stirring selling point for theocracy!

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