Wednesday, December 14, 2016

From First Lady to Secretary of State

Before Bill's second term was ended, Hillary Clinton won a tough race for Senator of New York, becoming the first woman to be First Lady and a sitting US Senator at the same time. As a junior Senator, Clinton did not make a big splash as a legislator, but she quickly gained a reputation as a hard worker who was willing to work with Senators across the aisle. She was instrumental in securing funding for the recovery of the 9/11 attacks, and fought beyond her time in the Senate for health care benefits for Trade Center First Responders. One of her most notable campaign promises was to create 200,000 new jobs in upstate New York, and people who criticize her Senate tenure will point out that she was unable to keep this promise. Bill O'Reilly along with Donald Trump often levied this criticism on Clinton while neglecting to point out that there was an economic downturn in 2001, not no mention the events of 9/11. Regardless, her favorability as former First Lady, her re-election to the Senate in 2006, and her yeoman-like work in the Senate put her in a good position to run for president in 2008. The Clinton's were always known as ambitious and in the early years when Bill was asked about their political plans he was known to often say, "Four years of Bill, four years of Hill!"

So in 2008 it was time to make that plan come true. Unfortunately for them, Hillary faced a strong challenge from Barack Obama. Obama was young, fresh, erudite, and an amazing speaker, as evidenced by his rousing speech at the 2004 DNC Convention. And he was a black man who appeared to be electable. I personally decided to back Obama for all of the above; I liked Hillary and had no gripes about her personally, but the thought of four or eight more years of White Water, Monica, File Gate, Vince Foster and the rest was what swayed me to vote for Obama in the primaries. Ironically, the opposition to Obama by the GOP probably ended up being even worse than what I expected as far as Clinton was concerned. Everything went right for Obama (even with Wright, Alinsky, Ayers, and Rezko), and he achieved a historical win for the presidency.

Clinton soon became Obama's choice for Secretary of State, and Hillary became the world's most admired woman for several years running. Opponents claim that she had no important accomplishments during her tenure, but she was an effective diplomat, and she was instrumental in laying the groundwork for the JCPOA, AKA the Iran Deal, for her successor. Near the end of her time as SOS the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked claiming the lives of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others. The GOP jumped on this tragedy, primarily as a means of attacking President Obama just months before the 2012 election. The person most affected politically by this AT THE TIME was Susan Rice, who performed the "full Ginsberg" on the following Sunday news shows. But Hillary was not so much in the spotlight regarding Benghazi at the time.

Next: The War on Hillary Clinton ramps back up as she leaves the State Department.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

People who knew or knew OF Hillary Clinton as she graduated from Wellesley and then Yale Law knew that she was brilliant...and that she was ambitious. Robert Reich says in Frontline's The Choice 2016 that in a Yale class that he, Hillary, and Bill Clinton attended, Hillary was always the first person to raise her hand to a question, and always got the answer right. Reich says he himself, got the answers right most of the time, but Bill usually wasn't there, out being an activist.

Teachers, mentors, and friends were of the opinion that she would one day be a Senator or even President. She had the intelligence and the drive to achieve any goal. After the Watergate Committee ended, and after flunking the DC bar exam (which she kept secret for decades), she decided to join her boyfriend, Bill Clinton, in Arkansas, and the two were soon married and embroiled in Arkansas politics. But more so than in Washington, she was a woman player in a man's game, and was criticized from all sides for it. The Clintons, as Democrats in a very red state were attacked mercilessly. Their potential as national players was obvious, and their enemies recognized it and began to act to stop them. Thus began the "vast right wing conspiracy" to which Hillary would allude in the 1992 presidential campaign. The "conspiracy" was real, and it was funded by Richard Mellon Scaife (the George Soros of the right). One of its key activists was David Brock, a right wing mercenary, hired by Scaife, who was involved in creating and publishing smears of Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas SCOTUS hearings. What Brock couldn't prove, he made up. There were hints of Hillary's lesbianism, there were claims that the Clintons were running drugs out of a remote Arkansas air strip. There was White Water and the cattle futures "windfall". There were rumors of Bill's sexual escapades, some of which turned out to be true. There were associations with people who eventually went to jail. But no actual or illegal wrong-doing by the Clintons could ever be found despite relentless investigations. Brock describes all this in his book Blinded By The Right. He has since become a liberal and the founder and leader of Media Matters.

Making it to the White House did not end the war; it only made it more intense. Once the GOP was in a position to do so, they appointed a special prosecutor, a former judge and rabid Republican, Ken Starr, to delve into White Water yet again. In the meantime Hillary spearheaded the Clinton initiative to reform the health care system for which she was relentlessly criticized. Then there was Travel "gate" and File "gate" and every kind of "gate" that could be made up out of a gaffe or slight. And when Hillary's law firm partner committed suicide, somehow she must have had him killed.

The Starr Commission investigated the Clintons for YEARS and came up with nothing. After spending $30 million chasing down rumors, Starr was beginning to fold up his tent and close down the Commission. And then...

Starr was contacted by a rabid right wing author and strategist, Lucianne Goldberg, who knew a disgruntled Defense Department employee, Linda Tripp, who was the confidant of a young White House intern, Monica Lewinski. Tripp had learned from Lewinski that the intern was having an affair with President Clinton. Lewinski revealed to Tripp that she had decided not to have dry-cleaned a blue dress that she claimed had Clinton's semen on it. Tripp passed this information to Goldberg, and from there it went to Starr.

Extra-marital sex may have been immoral and would have been embarrassing to the president, but it wasn't illegal, and it certainly was impeachable. What to do? What to do? Starr, with the FBI, set a perjury trap for Clinton. They set up a situation in which they knew he would lie under oath. On the day Clinton was to be deposed in the Paula Jones case, the FBI detained Monica and held her incommunicado while they questioned her about her affair with the president and threatened her and her family with prison if she attempted to leave the premises. She was allowed no lawyer and no phone calls. She could not warn the president, which was the point. Had he been warned he would have been able to avoid perjuring himself and there would not have been grounds for impeachment. In the end, after years and millions of dollars spent investigating White Water, Vince Foster, all the "gates" and everything else, it came down to a lie about sex. They got Bill (and Hillary) at last.

Like just about everything else, Bill and Hillary bounced back from these events. Bill ended his term with high approval ratings and Hillary became the first person to be First Lady and a sitting US Senator at the same time. But all the attacks, all the dirt, all the president's dishonesty rubbed off onto Hillary. They were even falsely accused of stealing items from the White House upon their departure. All this contributed to the notion that she was dishonest, untrustworthy - and corrupt.

But wait! There's more.

Note. I'm still mad.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

The War On Hillary

In my previous post I suggested that the untrustworthiness meme was a hurdle that Hillary Clinton could not get over. Her only hope was to go around. More on going around later.

I didn't know this until I watched the Frontline documentary, The Choice 2016, but Hillary Clinton had made a name for herself nationally on the day she graduated from Wellesley College in 1969. At the request of her fellow graduating seniors, she became the first student speaker at a commencement in the history of the college. The national exposure came from the fact that her speech contained an extemporaneous in your face rebuke to the Massachucetts Senator whose commencement address preceded hers. Senator Brooke had criticized the student activism occurring at the time, and Clinton told him where to put his criticism. It made the papers.

Hillary Clinton had, as they say, sharp elbows. From Wellesley she went to Yale Law School where she was classmates with Bill Clinton and Robert Reich. One of her first jobs as an attorney was in Washington, DC, working for the House Judiciary Committee on the impeachment of Richard Nixon. During the 2016 Presidential Election cycle there were suggestions in some news sources and of course in social media that Clinton had been fired from the committee for unethical behavior. This was according to a Republican who had been an associate on the committee who claimed he himself had fired her. The fact is that this person had no authority to fire her, and her job, like those of most of the members of the committee's investigative team, ended with the resignation of the president. More information can be found here:

This was apparently the opening skirmish of what might be called "The War on Hillary".

Note: Why am I writing this series now? Because I'm angry that Daffy Duck has been hired to play the role of president instead of Meryl Streep. I need to get some thoughts down "on paper". Call it therapy.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Random Thoughts on Assessing the 2016 Presidential Election

This is the first is an unknown number of posts regarding the 2016 presidential election. I thought I would do this in a series of shorter posts rather than one stream of consciousness rant.

First let me dispel the notion that Hillary Clinton was a terrible candidate and a terrible campaigner. HRC as of December 5th has received more votes than any other presidential candidate in history except Barack Obama. Her vote margin over Donald Trump is over 2.5 million and still counting. Trump's winning margin in the three critical "blue wall" states is now less than 80,000 votes, roughly equivalent to the seating capacity of an average college football stadium.

I'm not going to point out any single factor that caused Hillary Clinton to lose. Some have tried, but I don't think it's possible to blame it on one thing or even two things. But I will start with the thing that was probably the biggest factor of all.

Hillary Clinton is a pathological liar

This was the meme of this election. Hillary is a liar. Hillary is untrustworthy. Hillary can't tell the truth.

As a participant in social media and a denizen of a number of comments sections, I have seen the various versions of this meme many times. It's fascinating, though, that when I ask for examples of her lying, about 80-90% of the time I get "Clinton claimed she was under sniper fire on the tarmac in Bosnia." Of all the things that Hillary has been accused of over the years, this one consistently tops the list.Truth or lie, it is an incredibly trivial event, and yet it's deemed so important by detractors.

It is apparently not true that Clinton was under sniper fire on the tarmac in Bosnia. What is true is that the aircraft in which she was flying on this trip did use evasive maneuvers in its approach to the airfield as a defense against possible enemy fire in what was considered a war zone. Clinton admitted that she misremembered the event, Does that make it a lie? If you automatically assume she's a liar, I guess so. But it's so trivial and she corrected herself almost immediately.

Another one that is high on the list of "lies" is Clinton being named after Sir Edmund Hillary of Mt. Everest fame. It has been pointed out that Hillary's ascent of Everest post-dated Hillary's birth. IOW it is highly unlikely that she was named after him. Does that make it a lie? Not if that is what she was told when she was a little girl. And she says her mother told her that story to inspire her to do great things. My mother told me that I was a descendant of Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia. I was told this to feel that my mother's blood lines were every bit as regal as those of her Kentucky in-laws. Can it be proved? Not without 23 and Me. So again, trivial and immediately corrected.

I will continue with this long form rant in the days ahead, but I want to say that in my humble opinion, the "untrustworthy" meme was the biggest hurdle that Clinton faced in her campaign. And when I think about it, I can't see any way she could have mitigated that.

More to come.