a mental condition characterized by delusions of persecution, unwarranted jealousy, or exaggerated self-importance, typically elaborated into an organized system. It may be an aspect of chronic personality disorder, of drug abuse, or of a serious condition such as schizophrenia in which the person loses touch with reality.
synonyms: persecution complex, delusions, obsession, psychosis
This weekend on the talking heads shows, the right continued to blather on about the email scandal currently dogging Hillary Clinton. Is there, in the words of Gertrude Stein, “any there there?” who can say. The problem I want to discuss today is not whether there is a scandal here or not, but whether the right’s characterization of Mrs. Clinton’s “paranoia” valid – or even semantically correct.
I have long harped on in my blog that words have meanings. If you want to use a word, you should know its meaning and – unless you are doing it for ironic or satirical purposes – you should use them to mean what they actually mean! This is why I am calling out Ana Navarro and her colleagues on the right who deride the Clintons for their “paranoia.”
The problem is that the Clintons have quite a bit of evidence to support their belief that the right wishes to persecute them. This is not to say that the Clintons are completely blameless; it is not to say that there was nothing wrong in any of the situations for which they were hounded by the press and by the operatives of the right. I am merely pointing-out that the right has a history of jumping on anything that they think they can use to make political hay and smear the Clintons in the press before presenting – and often in the absence of – any substantive evidence of wrong-doing.
I believe that the Clintons often handle such accusations badly; in ways that lead the general public – all but their staunchest supporters – to suspect that the story they are telling and the actual objective “truth” may be only distantly related. But I also believe there is overwhelming evidence that they are often persecuted by the right for political reasons.
One need only look to the Starr Commission – that exercise of an Ethics Investigation In Search of a Scandal which foundered for years looking for some wrong-doing on which the sitting President of the US could be impeached. It started in ‘94 as an investigation of whether Mrs. Clinton’s involvement on a failed land deal represented a conflict of interest, touched briefly on the propriety of the dismissal of members of the White House Travel Office, and – in a surreal turn tried to prove that the Clintons killed one of their close friends – before finally settling on Bill Clinton’s lying about an affair with a White House intern. The Starr commission was a political ploy with a foregone conclusion that the president was guilty - the only problem it had was to find something of which he was guilt so that the congress could start impeachment proceedings.
Millions of dollars were spent, and unknown about of ink was spilled vilifying the Clintons on issues that they were ultimately cleared of and finally only succeeded in presenting an offense that the Legislative Branch could use to impeach the president based on lying about a highly personal and germane-to-nothing offense that affected nobody but the Clintons themselves – and perhaps Ms. Lewinski.
The only thing that the Clintons can be faulted for (to-date) is not their so-called “Paranoia” but the tone of their reaction to what they (possibly justifiably) see as persecution. Remember: We have a presumption of innocence in this country. If there is an actionable quantum of evidence of wrong-doing, then the accusers should bring charges and let the Clintons have their day in court. Smearing them in the press is not the way the American justice system is supposed to work.
Wherever you are today, I hope that your use of language is more precise than that of the average political pundit.