All posts by Craig Shirley

Inside the Conspiracy

President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton have accused their political opponents of undertaking a “well-financed, well-coordinated campaign” to “smear them.” Indeed, Clinton has specifically cited a $ 1 million “slush fund” allegedly amassed by the GOP to “get” the Clintons.

As a lifelong political activist I was, of course, appalled. I thought I’d been part of every conservative conspiracy since we sicked that killer rabbit on Jimmy Carter back in ’79.

I immediately called David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union and demanded to know, what was this “conspiracy thing?” And where could I sign up? Keene apologized and replied that it was simply an oversight; that, in fact, the “Get Clinton” conspiracy group was meeting that afternoon. “Come over,” he said.

What a pleasure it was to get together with Rush, G. Gordon, Ollie, The “Vig” (AKA Richard Viguerie), Buchanan, Floyd Brown, the staffs of the Washington Times, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, the staffs of the RNC, the NRSC, the NRCC, Pat Moynihan, Cliff Jackson, Newt, Al D’Amato, Ralph Reed, the Arkansas State Troopers, the Teamsters and other card-carrying members of the “Get Clinton” conspiracy.

We met in secret at RFK stadium. Keene called the meeting to order noting there was barely a quorum as every woman who Bill Clinton had the troopers approach was not present. Also missing were Bob Novak, who was off clubbing baby seals, and Bob Tyrrell, who was giving assault weapons and cocaine to nine year olds.

“Beginning with old business, let’s review what has been arranged by the Sub Task Forces on Whitewatergate, VinceFostergate, Fornigate, PaulaJonesgate, Travelgate, Hillarygate, HealthCaregate and HillaryRodhamClintonCommoditiesgate, Floyd, please give us your Report,” Keene said.

“Well David, we had great success in arranging for Robert Altman to hold three clandestine meetings in the White House to brief the staff on the RTC investigation into Madison Guarantee and Whitewater. It wasn’t easy, but I was able to persuade Mr. Altman that this course of action was all good for Clinton and that there was no downside in subverting the ‘Feds’ investigation. We then alerted the members of the Senate Banking Committee on these meetings.”

“Nice bait and switch, Floyd.”

“Thanks David.”

The group murmured its approval. “But really, the credit must go to good ol’ Jim McDougal when we met with him years ago and bribed him to bribe the Clintons into all those shady dealings. David, let me say you were wise to organize the ‘Get Clinton’ conspiracy twelve years ago,” concluded Brown.

“Thank you Floyd. Let’s now hear from Richard Viguerie on the membership recruitment drive for our top secret ‘Get Clinton’ conspiracy,” Keene said.

“Thanks Dave. We’ve so far been able to keep this under wraps although Sidney Rodham Blumenthal and some journalists have begun sniffing around. We’ve got to be careful that we don’t end up exposed like the JFK conspiracy and I’ve asked our friends with the FBI, the CIA, the WPA, the NSA, organized crime, the Pentagon, the Military Industrial Complex and the Salvation Army to not let this leak out like they did last time!

“So far, active dues-paying membership in our conspiracy is in the neighborhood of 73 million people, give or take a hundred thousand. But we’ve got to be careful. Clinton the other day said we had a $ 1 million dollar slush fund. As we all know, it’s now in excess of $ 1 billion dollars and stashed in accounts in the Caymen Islands and Switzerland. But it’s important to keep this quiet, David.”

“Thanks Richard.”

“Given our time constraint, I suggest the report on HillaryRodhamClintongate be moved up since we were so successful in getting the New Yorker magazine to get their reporter to get Betsy Wright to say they’re preparing Hillary for a presidential bid. Lets hear from (identity withheld) of the CIA on this.”

“Thanks David. Although the public poll numbers on Hillary have shown steady erosion of support, we all know that her approval rating according to our own surveys is actually 96 percent favorable. But we were able to buy off all the pollsters in America to get them to ‘cook’ bad numbers for Hillary. One of our best moves was to arrange for Hillary to start off 1992 with the ‘baking cookies’ comment. Some of our operatives were able to convince Clinton’s braintrust of Jim Carville and Paul Begala that if Hillary said this, it would appeal to the ‘man-hating-leftist-granola-crunching-strike-oriented caucus.'”

Keene said, “Given the lateness of the day, also put a motion on the table to delay the other reports until the next meeting — is there a second?”

Sen. Bob Kerrey seconded. The group unanimously passed the motion. As the group was breaking up, Recording Secretary Gennifer Flowers announced the time and place of the next board meeting. “It’s on the Mall between the Capitol and the Washington Monument,” she said. “But don’t forget — it’s a secret.”

LOAD-DATE: October 11, 1994

LANGUAGE: ENGLISH

Copyright 1994 Campaigns & Elections Publishing Corporation, LLC

The ‘Get Clinton’ meeting comes to order

President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton have both accused their political opponents of undertaking a “well-financed, well-coordinated campaign” to “smear them.” Indeed, Mr. Clinton has specifically cited a $1 million “slush fund” allegedly amassed by Republicans and conservatives to “get” the Clintons.

As a lifelong political activist I was, of course, appalled. I thought I had been part of every conservative conspiracy since we sicced that killer rabbit on Jimmy Carter back in ’79.

I immediately called David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union (ACU) and demanded to know, as a board member of the ACU, what was up with this conspiracy thing. And where could I sign up? Mr. Keene apologized and replied that it was simply an oversight – that, in fact, the “Get Clinton” conspiracy group was meeting that afternoon. “Come on over,” he said.

What a pleasure it was to get together with Rush, G. Gordon, Ollie, the “Vig” (AKA Richard Viguerie), Pat Buchanan, Floyd Brown and Dave Bossie, the editorial staffs of The Washington Times, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, the staffs of the Republican National Committee, the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, Pat Moynihan, Cliff Jackson, Newt, Al D’Amato, Mike Isikoff, the Arkansas State Troopers Association, the Teamsters and other card-carrying members of the “Get Clinton” conspiracy. We met in secret at RFK stadium. Mr. Keene called the meeting to order, noting there was barely a quorum, as hardly any of the women Bill Clinton had the troopers approach was present. Also missing were Bob Novak, who was off clubbing baby seals, Bill Kristol, who was writing a memo, and Bob Tyrrell, who was giving assault weapons and cocaine to 9-year-olds. “Beginning with old business, let’s review what has been arranged by the Sub Task Forces on Whitewatergate, VinceFostergate, Fornigate, PaulaJonesgate, Travelgate, Hillarygate, HealthCaregate and HillaryRodhamClintonCommoditiesgate. Floyd, please give us your Task Forces’ Report,” Mr. Keene said.

“Well David, we had extraordinarily good success in arranging for Robert Altman to hold three clandestine meetings in the White House to brief the staff on the RTC investigation into Madison Guaranty and Whitewater. I can tell you it wasn’t easy, but I was finally able to persuade Mr. Altman that this course of action was all good for Mr. Clinton and that there was no downside in subverting the feds’ investigation. We then, of course, alerted the members of the Senate Banking Committee on his meetings at the White House.”

“Nice bait-and-switch, Floyd.”

“Thanks David.”

The group murmured its approval. “But really, the credit must go to good ol’ Jim McDougal when we met with him years ago and bribed him to bribe the Clintons into all those shady dealings. David, let me say you were wise to organize the ‘Get Clinton’ conspiracy 12 years ago,” concluded Mr. Brown.

“Thank you Mr. Floyd. Let’s now hear from Richard Viguerie on the membership recruitment drive for our top secret ‘Get Clinton’ conspiracy,” Mr. Keene said.

“Thanks Dave. We’ve so far been able to keep this under wraps, although Sidney Rodham Blumenthal and some journalists have begun sniffing around. We’ve got to be careful that we don’t end up exposed like the JFK conspiracy, and I’ve asked our friends with the FBI, the CIA, the WPA, the NSA, organized crime, the Pentagon, the Military-Industrial Complex and the Salvation Army not to let this leak out like they did last time!

“So far, active dues paying membership in our conspiracy is in the neighborhood of 73 million people, give or take a hundred thousand. But we’ve got to be careful. Clinton the other day said we had a $1 million slush fund. As we all know, it’s now in excess of $1 billion and stashed in accounts in the Cayman Islands and Switzerland. But it’s important to keep this quiet, David.”

“Thanks, Richard. Given our time constraints, I suggest the report on Hillarygate be moved up, since we were so successful in getting the New Yorker magazine to get their reporter to get Betsy Wright to say they’re preparing Hillary for a presidential bid. So now, let’s hear from [identity withheld] of the CIA on this.”

“Thanks, David. Although the public poll numbers on Hillary have shown steady erosion of support, we all know that her approval rating according to our own surveys is actually 96 percent favorable. We were able to buy off all the pollsters in America to get them to ‘cook’ bad numbers for Hillary. But I think one of our best moves was to arrange for Hillary to start off 1992 with the ‘baking cookies’ comment. Some of our operatives were able to convince Stan Greenberg, James Carville and Paul Begala that if Hillary said this, it would appeal to the ‘man-hating-leftist-granola-crunching-strike-oriented-caucus.’ Also, our operative on her Health Care Task Force convinced her to write a plan that would anger almost everybody in America. Our work is proceeding, and we’ll have a full report at the next board meeting on the yeoman work done on Hillary by Red Bone.”

At this point, I leaned over to Newt and asked, “Tell me again how you convinced David Watkins that it was okay to take that helicopter.”

Mr. Keene said, “Given the lateness of the day, let me express the board’s many thanks to the College Republicans for arranging for that girl to ask Clinton the underwear question. That was a master stroke worthy of Donald Segretti. Let me also put a motion on the table to delay the other reports until the next board meeting – is there a second?”

I seconded.

“All in favor?”

The group unanimously passed the motion. As the group was breaking up, Recording Secretary Gennifer Flowers announced the time and place of the next board meeting: “It’s on the Mall between the Capitol and the Washington Monument. But don’t forget,” she said, “it’s a secret.”

Craig Shirley is a GOP consultant, lacrosse coach, and newly registered member of the “Get Clinton” Conspiracy Working Group.

LOAD-DATE: June 21, 1994

LANGUAGE: ENGLISH

Copyright 1994 The Washington Times LLC All Rights Reserved

Can GOP find unity in crime?

Political consultant Arthur Finkelstein theorized some years ago that the Republican Party was, in fact, made up of three separate and distinct parties with but one issue, anti-communism, holding them and thus the GOP together.

Those three parties were social conservatives as represented by Jesse Helms, economic conservatives as represented by Jack Kemp, and foreign policy-national defense conservatives as represented by Jeanne Kirkpatrick.

Each of those three factions could find differences with one or two of the others (and often did) but it was compelling opposition to oligarchic collectivism that held the party together and made it, for most of the 1970s and all of the 1980s, the political majority in America.

With the collapse of Soviet communism – some say, due to Ronald Reagan’s staunch policies – came the irony of the American voter in 1992 not having to consider for the first time in more than 40 years a presidential candidate’s ability to stand up to communist aggression, which played to Bill Clinton’s advantage and to George Bush’s detriment.

Many in the GOP remain firmly convinced that George Bush’s broken tax pledge and appearing to not care about the American economy led to his defeat. But it was also the collapse of communism that contributed to his loss in 1992.

The party today remains approximately the same. But due to the deterioration of the foreign policy wing of the GOP, the social conservatives, though not larger, seem more influential. This was witnessed by the 1992 Houston convention where the Bush campaign actually had a good foreign policy story to sell (to wit: Desert Storm) and a good economic story to tell but did not do so. The media and thus, the American people, came to believe that social issues were all the GOP was about.

Of compelling interest to the GOP today should be the effort by Bill Clinton and the Democratic Party to steal the crime issue, which, for Republicans, could become the new “anti-communism” and therefore the new glue to hold together the party, including the growing libertarian (read anti-big government) faction within the party.

Historically, crime has been a GOP issue. Democrats were seen in their alliance with the American Civil Liberties Union, their opposition to the death penalty, the defense of Vietnam protesters and the like, as being “soft on crime.” After all, Richard Nixon ran on “law and order” in 1968 and Ronald Reagan talked about freedom consistent with “law and order.”

The danger for Republicans is that Mr. Clinton is making progress on this issue. Call it cheap symbolism, but his anti-crime rhetoric is hitting home with people weary of crime and all its symptoms.

However, the GOP can bring this issue back home if it rejects the rhetoric of Sarah Brady, Mr. Clinton and others and take a page out of the book of George Allen’s campaign for governor of Virginia.

John McLaughlin, Mr. Allen’s campaign pollster, saw early last year in his polling that Mary Sue Terry, the Democratic nominee for governor and the sitting attorney general, would win the Virginia election unless that group of voters most concerned with crime could be convinced that the issue was not gun control but crime control

The research also indicated that voters saw her version of gun control, a waiting period, as ineffective, and Miss Terry’s strident attacks on the National Rifle Association as a gimmick. Further, they thought a five-day waiting period wouldn’t do anything to stop crime, but they did believe that having more cops on the street, tough sentencing and reducing recidivism were real solutions. They also expressed a high degree of support for Virginia’s existing Instant Check Program.

Consequently, Mr. Allen hammered away at the failure of the criminal justice system, the frightening statistics about repeat offenders. And by Election Day, that group of voters were firmly in Mr. Allen’s camp, thus delivering the election to the GOP.

The Republican National Committee just held its winter meeting here and it should remember that no GOP candidate ever lost on the gun control issue despite the handwringing by the Washington intelligentsia.

Too many in the GOP offer too much “me tooism” as it is. So if they want to once again become the political majority in America and thus the governing majority, they ought to reject Mr. Clinton’s and the Democrats’ solution to crime and come up with their own. They must devise a set of ideas and goals that the American people will support. Anti-crime can be the new anti-communism for the Republican Party. But it requires the same will as the party had in opposing communism.

Craig Shirley is president of a Washington public relations and political consulting firm.

LOAD-DATE: February 20, 1994

LANGUAGE: ENGLISH

Copyright 1994 The Washington Times LLC All Rights Reserved

Killer rabbits, Hollywood haircuts

Little things often mean a lot. Killer rabbits, repeated head bumpings on the door of Air Force One and now, $200 haircuts.

People’s lives in general and our elected leaders specifically are often judged by seemingly small, insignificant and yes, sometimes silly things. In 1968, George Romney would have lost the GOP presidential nomination to Richard Nixon anyway, but he neither helped his effort nor his desire to ever be taken seriously again when he suggested that American generals had “brainwashed” him during a tour of Vietnam about the military effort in South East Asia.

Jody Powell has cited the “killer rabbit” incident as the critical point after which Washington and the American people never took President Carter seriously again.

Gerald Ford may have been the most star-crossed president in American history as a result of literally stumbling performances on stairs, innumerable head bumpings in the White House pool and hatchway pratfalls on Air Force One. Don’t think this image of buffoonery didn’t contribute to his loss to Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Inner-directed men like John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan had an aura, a presence, and authority and yes, an innate judgment that allowed them to avoid the silliness that befell Presidents Ford and Carter and now is befalling Bill Clinton. Someone once said that a leader has a physical, intellectual and moral presence. Clearly Presidents Kennedy and Reagan possessed such endowments and were seen as leaders. Mr. Clinton, as a result of his problems, is not seen as a leader today.

But history is repeating itself in more than one way. The American people correctly perceived Messrs. Ford and Carter to be weak men and they may now be arriving at the same judgment about Bill Clinton.

Ironically, compounding this president’s problem is Hillary Rod-ham Clinton. Like Presidents Carter and Ford, Mr. Clinton is married to a strong-willed and intelligent woman with ideas of her own. Unfortunately for the current occupant of the Oval Office and like Messrs. Ford and Carter, a dynamic is being created that sets him up for a “lose lose” situation.

If Hillary looks good, Bill looks bad. If Hillary looks bad, Bill looks worse. Lest we forget, buttons were mass-produced in 1976 and 1980 that proclaimed “Betty’s Husband for President” and “Rosalyn’s Husband for President.” This perception only encouraged the American people to think of those presidents as weak men. Whatever else happens between now and 1996, we’ll see buttons stating “Hillary’s Husband for President” and, even worse for Mr. Clinton, “Hillary for President.”

Presidents who are seen as weak or vacillating or silly people – as Messrs. Ford and Carter can attest to – also invite gratuitous comments and criticisms. Johnny Carson and Jay Leno notwithstanding, (Have you seen Mr. Leno’s savaging of the president lately? And the roars of laughter this has met with?) already Mr. Clinton is reading columns and editorials suggesting ever so politely – from friends yet – on how he can “turn it around.” The next step in six months will be academicians and editorial writers opining that the job of president is just too big for one man.

The tendency of all the president’s men in these situations is to lash out at the media, sometimes not too intelligently. To say Paul Begala and James Carville have been appalling in interviews is an under-statement. And their overreactions are only exacerbating Mr. Clinton’s problem, because they’re taking what should be something minor and makes it bigger.

For example, Mr. Begala’s comments in The Washington Post last Friday to the effect that there are larger issues facing America than Bill Clinton’s $200 haircut misses the point. Of course there are, but much of what we judge people about and especially our presidents is anecdotal and not always of earthshaking import. Nonetheless, this is how life often works, and telling The Post to “get a life” is not particularly constructive nor helpful for future relations.

The problem for Mr. Clinton is, like the problems that beset Presidents Ford and Carter, that if he is perceived as weak and silly, then so too are his legislative programs and political views that then may end up endangering the Democratic Party as a whole. Bill Clinton is falling, and the only question now is whether he can get up.

Craig Shirley, an adviser to George Bush from 1985 to 1987, is president of a Washington-based political consulting firm.

LANGUAGE: ENGLISH

GRAPHIC: Cartoon, …AW, THIS IS GREAT, CRISTOPHE!… AND HILLARY THOUGHT HER HAIRCUT WAS NEWSWORTHY!, By M. Shelton/The Orange County Register (1993)

Copyright 1993 The Washington Times LLC All Rights Reserved