No wonder Christopher Ruddy has been trying to downplay Newsmax's history of animosity toward the Clintons: He wanted to snag an interview with Bill Clinton.
In a move that will surely stun longtime Newsmax readers, Ruddy did, in fact, snag that interview -- and, if an Oct. 31 article is any indication, lobbed softballs at the former president. Ruddy writes:
There is no doubt Bill Clinton has broken the mold of what we expect from a former president.
And there is also no question that in the past Bill Clinton has engendered considerable controversy. But there should be little disagreement today that he is doing exemplary work and is acting as a positive force for the United States.
Ruddy notes that he "interviewed former President Clinton about his post-presidency. In this exclusive Newsmax interview, Clinton discusses his extensive charity efforts, repeats his call for mandatory AIDS testing in some countries, and vows that if Hillary is elected president, he 'will do whatever she asks me to do.' " Some of the less-than-harsh questions Ruddy asked of Clinton:
- Your book “Giving” is just out and has soared to the top of the best-seller lists. Do you think you have touched a nerve among Americans who want to embrace the concept?
- Do you feel the heart incident made you focused on your spiritual side? How has your own religious faith played a role in your global work today?
- The AIDS crisis is a huge problem devastating Africa and other parts of the lesser-developed world. How is the Clinton Foundation making a difference?
Further, the new issue of Newsmax magazine has made Clinton its cover boy in what appears to be a mostly positive article on "the controversial political and cultural powerhouse who is redefining what it means to be an ex-president."
This is a far cry from the late 1990s, which Ruddy and Newsmax were feeding conspiracy theories against Clinton.
Indeed, Ruddy has mellowed considerably about the Clintons (even if Newsmax hasn't). As we've noted, Ruddy was quoted in February as saying, "Clinton wasn't such a bad president. ... In fact, he was a pretty good president is a lot of ways, and Dick [conservative moneybags and Newsmax financial backer Richard Mellon Scaife] feels that way today." In September, Ruddy praised Clinton's book "Giving." And just yesterday, Ruddy wrote of Hillary Clinton: "Today, Hillary does not generate the same animus she did during the 1990s. ... Running one of the leading Web sites for GOP readers in the nation, I know that Hillary does not evoke the anger she once did."
How is the He-Man Clinton-Haters Club -- of which Ruddy was once a prominent member and several Newsmax writers, like John LeBoutillier and Dick Morris, still hold card-carrying memberships -- going to take all this? Not well, we suspect.
UPDATE: The New York Times is also shocked.