In Trump-bashing, echoes of the Clintons

The last time a president was this angry over talk of impeachment, it was 2005 and Bill Clinton was enraged over a comment in a newspaper article. Historian Douglas Brinkley had said Clinton would be deemed a great president, if not for the fact that he was impeached.

“I completely disagree with that,” the former president seethed to an audience at Hofstra University. “Now if you want to hold it against me that I did something wrong, that’s a fair deal. If you do that, then you have a whole lot of other questions, which is how many other presidents do you have to downgrade and what are you going to do with all those Republican congressmen, you know, that had problems?”

Maybe Clinton learned that tactic from novelist Sinclair Lewis, creator of the charlatan preacher Elmer Gantry. Accused of toying with the deacon’s daughter, Gantry shouts, “I’m impulsive — sure; I make bad mistakes — every red-blooded man does. But what about you?” And then he recites a list of his accuser’s “problems.”

Whatever the origin, it’s a well-worn page in the Clinton playbook. When attacked, accuse the accuser of the same.

You may have detected an echo chamber after President Trump made his (completely legal) decisions to discuss classified information with Russian leaders and to fire FBI Director James Comey. A Google search for the phrases “mishandling classified information” and “obstruction of justice” turns up long lists of news stories populated with quotations from the president’s opponents.

It may not be a coincidence. In the new book about Hillary Clinton’s campaign, “Shattered,” reporters Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes quote a “longtime ally” as saying that after the election, Hillary “kept pointing her finger at Comey and Russia” and “wants to make sure all these narratives get spun the right way.”

The authors describe a meeting of the campaign’s communications team at which top Clinton advisers Robby Mook and John Podesta “went over the script they would pitch to the press…

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