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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/9/12

How the Right's Smear Machine Started

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Later that month, at Nixon's funeral, Clinton paid tribute to the Republican president. "May the day of judging President Nixon on anything less than his entire life and career come to a close," Clinton wished, apparently not knowing what that full-scale assessment would reveal.

In the succeeding months, the Republican strategy of pummeling Clinton over Whitewater and other personal indiscretions dominated the headlines. Clinton was driven deep into debt over lawyer fees and was left little choice but to seek hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to save his political life. Not surprisingly, that fundraising merged into the larger flow of "Clinton scandals."

The endless string of "Clinton scandals" helped Republicans win control of Congress in 1994, with Limbaugh made an honorary member of the House GOP majority as thanks for his relentless assaults, three hours a day, against Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Eventually, after the Whitewater probe expanded to include disclosures about Clinton's sexual indiscretions with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, House Republicans voted to impeach Clinton during a lame-duck session in 1998, representing payback for the Democrats pressuring Nixon to resign 24 years earlier.

After a humiliating trial in the U.S. Senate, Clinton survived to finish his term. But the right-wing attack machine that arose to prevent "another Watergate" and came of age by exploiting the "Whitewater scandal" was now a permanent part of the American political landscape.

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Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at It's also available at

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