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For Drudge, Rove and Putin, it's silly season again

By Donna Brazile
updated 4:05 PM EDT, Fri June 6, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Donna Brazile chastises the wave of politically driven attacks that seem just for sport
  • Hillary Clinton, she argues, is the current target of those "silly" attacks from Drudge and others
  • To paraphrase Henry Kissinger: "In Washington, someone is always out to get you."

Editor's note: Donna Brazile, a CNN contributor and a Democratic strategist, is vice chairwoman for voter registration and participation at the Democratic National Committee. She is a nationally syndicated columnist, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and author of "Cooking With Grease: Stirring the Pots in America." She was manager for the Gore-Lieberman presidential campaign in 2000. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) -- The silly season is upon us: the time during an election year when those trying to muck up the other side throw all sorts of nonsense about a candidate onto the public wall.

Hillary Clinton, because she's the Democrat's presumptive 2016 front-runner, has become the target du jour.

Frankly, I don't know how public figures get through it. I'm reminded of Henry Kissinger's remark, which I'm paraphrasing: "It's impossible to be paranoid in Washington because the definition of paranoia is the 'false belief that someone is out to get you.' In Washington, someone is always out to get you."

The latest craziness comes from Matt Drudge, who publishes the Drudge Report, the political equivalent of an online supermarket tabloid. Drudge funnels anonymous propaganda into the mainstream media, propaganda it might not buy otherwise. That's the secret to his success.

Donna Brazile
Donna Brazile

Of course, some of what he reports is solid stuff. But there is space to fill daily. So, somewhat like a National Enquirer reporter who dreams up his day's "scoop" while showering, Drudge teases his readers with innuendo and fluff. So often, it's hard to tell the difference between fluff and fact.

Maybe Drudge is more entertainer than reporter. I imagine he enjoys baiting the mainstream media, then watching it look foolish when his story is debunked. Take, for example, his tweet about Hillary Clinton, which caused something of a media firestorm.

People Magazine did a story on Clinton, and the photographer taking the picture for the front cover asked Clinton to stand by a lawn chair, grab the top, and lean into the camera. Only the top part of the chair showed after the picture was cropped for publication. So Drudge tweeted the picture, asking, "Is Clinton Holding a Walker?"

That was at 12:16 p.m. on June 4.

By "coincidence," 74 minutes later, at 1:30 p.m., The Wall Street Journal's political division tweeted: "Is that a walker? Hillary Clinton's latest magazine cover is raising eyebrows." That may be a record time from right-wing hype-and-blarney to validation from a major publication.

Drudge's tweet fits in with Karl Rove's orchestrated charge in mid-May that maybe Hillary Clinton was "brain damaged" because of a fall she suffered. The idea was to portray her as physically unfit to be president and save the right a billion or two of negative advertising in 2016.

But it wasn't true.

D-Day; VA bill; Clinton book leaks
Clinton makes revelations about Obama
Clinton opens up to 'People'

Since her recovery, we've witnessed a vigorous Hillary Clinton. Other pictures in that same issue of People show her animated, smiling and even combative. Apparently, though Drudge (and perhaps The Wall Street Journal, which had no problem accepting his "con") wanted to turn Rove's "will it stick to the wall" into a meme.

How long will the media let this tweetle-dumb linger?

Russian President Vladimir Putin also took a pot shot at Clinton, calling her "a weak woman."

"It's better not to argue with women," Putin said, "but Mrs. Clinton has never been too graceful in her statements." Referring to Clinton's comparison of his aggressive actions in the Ukraine to Hitler's with Poland, Putin ironically said, "When people push boundaries too far, it's not because they are strong but because they are weak."

Then Putin delivered his zinger: "But maybe weakness is not the worst quality for a woman." Well. It's one thing to take on a world leader like Hillary Clinton, but an altogether different matter to offend half the planet while doing it.

His "It's better not to argue with women," clearly shows Putin learned from his domestic encounters. Putin is a home-grown Russian social conservative. He considers the West degenerate for granting human rights to women and gays. If he had been born an American, he and the Robertsons of Duck Dynasty fame would likely be at one another's backyard barbecues.

I can't help but wonder if Putin would consider the following statements from Clinton as strength if a male had said them: Referring to George W. Bush's "I looked into his soul," Clinton said, "I could have told (Bush) he was a KGB agent; by definition he doesn't have a soul."

Politico ran the quote with the observation, "This isn't going to play well in Moscow." Now we know it didn't.

Being weak is not a Clinton hallmark; some Obama supporters cautioned him to hire a food-taster if Clinton joined his Cabinet. Perhaps Putin considers referring to Russia as "despicable" for vetoing U.N. sanctions against Syria, and calling his election possibly fraudulent being "weak." Or maybe he needs a dictionary.

We can expect a lot more to be said about Hillary Clinton, since her memoir, "Hard Choices," is coming out. I'm sure it will reflect her strengths, and weaknesses. I'm sure that on some issues it will provide clarification, and on others, controversy.

And, unfortunately, I'm also sure some in the media will be right there with some tweetle-dumb about it.

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