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A Clinton-Scaife Rapprochement?

March 25, 2008

Politics, they say, produces strange bedfellows. After Hillary Clinton's visit with the Pittsburgh Tribune Review editorial board today, truer words were never spoken. That Senator Clinton chose that of all venues to weigh in on Barack Obama's pastor controversy would have been unthinkable in the years past. After all, the Tribune Review is owned by none other than Clinton grand inquisitor himself, Richard Mellon Scaife.
In recent days, the Tribune Review's opinion page featured reliable right-wing mouthpieces such as Pat Buchanan and L. Brent Bozell vilifying Barack Obama over his association with Pastor Wright. Responding to questions from the paper's editors and reporters today, Hillary broke the Clinton's camp's relative silence on the Jeremiah Wright uproar:

"He would not have been my pastor. You don't choose your family, but you choose what church you want to attend."

While the liberal blogosphere is abuzz over whether and to what degree Clinton's comments constituted the Tonya Harding treatment for Obama, it is the location she chose to first make them that seems so surprising.
As People for the American Way details, the Trib-Review's billionaire owner, Richard Mellon Scaife has poured $340 million over the past 30 years into the vast right-wing conspiracy Hillary Clinton once decried. He helped fund both Judicial Watch and the Landmark Legal Foundation, conservative legal organs which targeted the Clinton administration with lawsuits during the 1990's. As PFAW notes, Scaife argued that the Bill Clinton's Lewinsky bimbroglio was perhaps the least of his crimes:

In a rare interview in 1999 with John F. Kennedy, Jr. in George Magazine, Scaife spoke openly about his belief that there is truth behind the accusations that the Clintons were involved in the deaths of 60 friends and employees. His newspaper, Pittsbrugh Tribune-Review, also printed allegations suggesting that certain officials in the Clinton administration were murdered.

In retrospect, Hillary Clinton's appearance at the Scaife paper is not as incomprehensible as it might have once seemed. After all, back in July 2007, Bill Clinton and his former tormentor Richard Mellon Scaife met for a two-hour lunch during which the ex-President secured a check for his foundation's work on AIDS in Africa. For his part, Scaife said of his one-time enemy #1, ''I never met such a charismatic man in my whole life." (Even more ironic, given his central role in the Arkansas project to publicize Clinton's personal peccadilloes, Scaife admitted, "I don't want people throwing rocks at me in the street. But I believe in open marriage.")
None of which is to suggest that Hillary's statements at the Pittsburgh Tribune Review today constitute an emerging Clinton-Scaife nexus. But in this strangest of elections, Hillary Clinton and Richard Mellon Scaife would be strange bedfellows, indeed.

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Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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