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Winding up for Chinagate

Without sex scandals, the right will use old and new scapegoats and hot button issues that are demonizing and divisive. Abortion is key for some on the Christian Right, as is homosexual rights, but an emerging issue with broader appeal is Chinagate.

Chinagate is the name given to allegations that communist Chinese agents funded the Clinton campaign, and in return, Clinton and Gore are selling out US interests to China through special treatment in foreign and domestic policy matters, and even in allowing spies to obtain classified technology. This is a hyperbolic conspiracist interpretation of what appear to be actual fundraising abuses and mishandling of classified material. These allegations have been circulating for years, well before the Cox report on Chinese spying was issued in May 1999.170

The themes of the Chinagate charges tracks back to the Old Right "China Lobby" that influenced foreign policy following WWII. Interest in this topic has heightened with reports that Chinese government agents may have obtained nuclear secrets from a government laboratory. Chinagate is likely to tar Al Gore in the upcoming Presidential election race, no matter which Republican faction's nominee runs. Four questions concerning Chinagate from the American Conservative Union survey letter, distributed at the 1998 Christian Coalition conference, provide a summary of the allegations and illustrate how direct mail fundraising surveys both educate and build a constituency:

    Before you received this letter, did you know that, at about the same time China was funneling millions of dollars into the 1996 Clinton-Gore re-election effort, Clinton permitted Communist China to acquire sophisticated American missile guidance system and nuclear technology which has allowed China to modernize its nuclear arsenal?

    In general, what's your reaction to the news that Chinese nuclear missiles are now targeted at American cities, towns and homes-missiles which have been made more accurate by highly-sophisticated American guidance system and satellite technology provided to China by Bill Clinton?

    Before you received this letter, did you know that, at about the same time China was funneling millions of dollars into the 1996 Clinton-Gore re-election effort, Clinton agreed to lease a shipyard in Long Beach, California to the Communist Chinese military and gave China an "anchor port" to the strategically crucial Panama Canal?

    In your opinion, how serious is the "Chinagate" scandal-in which Clinton may have gravely jeopardized American national Security in exchange for illegal campaign contributions?171

Christian Right columnist Cal Thomas anticipated this theme in his syndicated Human Events column appearing in November 1998.172 Most of the column was a positive review of a new book, The Year of the Rat: How Bill Clinton Compromised U.S. Security for Chinese Cash.173 Authors Edward Timperlake and William C. Triplett II both have served as staff on Republican congressional committees, showing how deep into the mainstream political system these ideas have penetrated. In mid-march 1999, there were over 50 customer reviews of the book on the page. The vast majority were laudatory.174 The conspiracist rumor mill on the right is already using the same paradigm it used in the impeachment drive to seed stories into the mainstream media.

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