Right goes back to the '90s with new Hillary report

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the annual Clinton Global Initiative, Sept. 25, 2013, in New York, N.Y.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the annual Clinton Global Initiative, Sept. 25, 2013, in New York, N.Y.

Here we go again...

With Hillary Clinton mulling a 2016 presidential bid, the right is dredging up the 1990s in a gleeful effort to tarnish the potential Democratic frontrunner.

The conservative Washington Free Beacon has produced a new report on Clinton after pouring over a trove of materials about her going back to the mid-1970s. Diane Blair, a political science professor and close Arkansas friend of Clinton’s who died in 2000, kept letters, memos, and records of conversations with both Hillary and Bill. The archive, which Blair had intended to use to write a book, is currently kept at the University of Arkansas, where it has been open to the public since 2010.

Much of the Blair archive has been reported on before. Carl Bernstein told msnbc via email that “significant parts” of the archive, which is the property of the Diane Blair Trust, were made available to him by Blair’s husband, Jim, for Bernstein’s 2007 biography of Hillary Clinton, A Woman in Charge. “I believe some of the  papers had yet to be transcribed and/or deposited by the Trustees at the time,” Bernstein told msnbc.

The Beacon’s report comes two weeks after Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who's considering a run for the 2016 GOP nomination, tried to revive the Monica Lewinsky scandal -- calling Bill Clinton a “sexual predator.” Last week Paul continued the effort, saying Democrats should return money they raised while campaigning with the former president.

The Blair documents cited by the Beacon contain little that would appear to damage Hillary Clinton. Among the pieces of information unearthed:

-During Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential bid, a memo by top campaign pollsters Stan Greenberg and Celinda Lake found that voters feared Hillary Clinton was “too politically ambitious, too strong, and too ruthless.” The pollsters concluded: “What voters find slick in Bill Clinton, they find ruthless in Hillary.”

-After being told by her husband about his affair with Lewinsky, Hillary Clinton referred to the onetime White House intern as a “narcissistic loony tune,” according to Blair.

“It was a lapse, but she says to his credit he tried to break it off, tried to pull away, tried to manage someone who was clearly a ‘narcissistic loony toon’; but it was beyond control,” wrote Blair. “HRC insists, no matter what people say, it was gross inappropriate behavior but it was consensual (was not a power relationship) and was not sex within any real meaning…”

-In 1993, Hillary Clinton derided a group of women who made claims of sexual harassment against Republican senator Bob Packwood, according to Blair. “HC tired of all those whiney women, and she needs him on health care,” wrote Blair of her conversation with Hillary Clinton, who was heading up her husband's ulitmately unsuccessful effort to reshape the U.S. health care system.

-As the Clintons geared up to push health care reform in 1993, Blair said Hillary Clinton lobbied her husband on the need for a single-payer system. “At dinner, [Hillary] to [Bill] at length on the complexities of health care—thinks managed competition a crock; single-payer necessary; maybe add to Medicare,” Blair wrote.

Hillary Clinton told the New York Times in 2008: “I never seriously considered a single-payer system.”

Hillary Clinton’s possible 2016 presidential run is also generating its share of more positive coverage for the former first lady. A new book, HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hilary Clinton by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, relies on Clinton insiders to paint a largely positive portrait of her tenure as secretary of state.