One of the right’s strangest lines of attack against President Obama has always been the “vetting” charge. For many conservatives, even now, the president’s background and career was never fully scrutinized before Obama’s 2008 election, which according to the right, led Americans to vote for him without actually knowing who he is.
In January, for example, Chris Christie went so far as to say, “We have a guy in the Oval Office who we don’t know. He’s been serving us for seven years and we don’t know him.” None of this has ever made any sense, but it’s nevertheless a staple of anti-Obama rhetoric on the right.
As the president’s second term wraps up, questions about his 2008 vetting have obviously lost their salience, but for some conservatives, the talking point is so compelling, they’re ready to recycle it. Donald Trump’s national spokeswoman argued on MSNBC yesterday, for example, that Hillary Clinton, despite nearly four decades in the public eye, has “never been truly vetted.” TPM reported:
Asked by MSNBC’s Tamron Hall if Trump was looking forward to a head-to-head matchup against Clinton in the fall, Katrina Pierson replied, “Oh, absolutely. Mainly because Hillary Clinton has never been truly vetted before. Particularly by the media.”After Hall expressed skepticism, Pierson repeated, “Never been truly vetted before.”
The MSNBC host, understandably incredulous, pressed on. “I just want to make sure that we’re clear on this,” Hall said. “The former secretary of state, you talk about the money spent against Donald Trump to perhaps demonize him. The millions of dollars that have been spent against the Clintons, both as a first lady and the secretary of state and a senator for the state of New York, which she has received contributions from your candidate, that this – that Hillary Clinton has not been properly vetted?”
Pierson responded, “No.”
As the video shows, Trump’s spokesperson did not appear to be kidding.
Part of the problem with this is the irony of having the presumptive Republican nominee, whose unfortunate background is just now drawing real scrutiny, question the vetting of the Democratic frontrunner.
But the other problem is that the claim itself is just bonkers. Hillary Clinton, whether you love her or hate her, has been vetted to an almost ridiculous degree over the course of two lengthy presidential campaigns, two statewide campaigns in one of the nation’s largest states, a Senate cabinet confirmation process, and multiple terms as First Lady at the state and federal level.
Clinton’s detractors will come up with all sorts of criticisms, some more compelling than others, but if Team Trump is convinced the Democrat has skated by with no real scrutiny of her background, the Republican’s general-election campaign is off to a deeply odd start.