Don't Expect a Clinton to Get What He/She Deserves

Almost every week we learn of some new horror committed by a Clinton. Scandals attached to a Clinton are old news. Some can be traced back before the Clintons’ emergence on the national scene in 1992, many to their days in Arkansas, from “Cattle Futures” to Whitewater to the Rose Law Firm’s billing records to Bill’s serial sexcapades. Some of us recall that in 1974 Hillary was fired for unethical conduct and lying about it from the team investigating the Watergate imbroglio.

Some Clinton-connected scandals involve financial hanky-panky. One thinks of revelations surrounding the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. Quite a few entail sexual predation by Bill, accompanied by various forms of enabling and/or cover-up by Hillary. Not a few involve political sleaze, such as Bill’s last-minute pardon of fugitive Marc Rich in 2001, or Hillary’s behavior during and after the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Almost all are accompanied by lies of one kind or another. At least one got Bill disbarred; the late William Safire called Hillary “a congenital liar” in 1996.

There’s a curious, and disheartening, sameness surrounding virtually all – so far – of the Clinton scandals. First, there’s the seemingly shocking revelation of a new Clinton scandal, such as the video that revealed Hillary’s 2008 claim to have landed while under sniper fire in Bosnia in 1996 was false. The revelations are front-page news for several days, during which experts predict impending doom for the Clinton(s) caught in a new mess. Usually, in less time than it takes to write about it, Clinton loyalists -- i.e., virtually every prominent Democrat pol and most denizens of the mainstream media (MSM) -- circle the wagons around the Clinton(s) involved in the “scandal du jour,” and come to her/his/their defense. Even when their MSM toadies acknowledge a Clinton’s prevarication, and occasional outright lies, they marvel at the chutzpah involved. (Within a short period, we get to the “he says, she says” phase. What was seemingly crystal-clear on Day 1 of the scandal/horror/whatever gets to be as murky as muddy water.) Sooner or later, usually sooner, Clinton scandal fatigue sets in, the latest outrage/horror/whatever gets to be old news -- how many times haven’t you heard, “the public has already processed that”? -- and goes to the back burner, if not to the coldest burner on the stove, a.k.a. the public agenda.

Ultimately, nothing happens. Bill continues to be extremely popular; he could probably be re-elected to the presidency by a landslide but for the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Hillary is the odds-on favorite to win the Democrat party’s presidential nomination in 2016, and she could well be elected as Chief Executive.

When something happens again and again -- the particulars vary, but the pattern is almost invariant -- one needs to ask what is going on. Can we identify the major factors that are at work in producing the Clintons’ charmed lives -- so far? That is my quest.

Let’s begin with the Clintons themselves: two aging baby boomers -- Bill was born in 1946, Hillary in 1947 -- raised in comfortable middle-class households, and highly educated. Each has been involved (in various ways) in state and/or national politics for close to half a century.

I am not a psychologist or a psychiatrist, so I do not feel competent enough assess the Clintons’ personalities. Political psychologist Stanley Renshon, however, is competent, and has written that, in terms of personality, Bill is more like Richard Nixon than Franklin D. Roosevelt. Aubrey Immelman and Julie Seifert have characterized Hillary as being inflexible, over-controlling, and lacking in empathy. She does not have political opponents; for her, Republicans are enemies.

On one level, one need not probe deeply into the Clintons’ personalities to grasp the primary factor motivating their actions. It is the deeply-held belief (by both of them) that “the rules do not apply to me.” (Actually, given their pattern of never having to pay a severe penalty for misbehavior, one can understand why they may feel that way.)

What factors have enabled the Clintons as adults to flout the rules of American politics and society?

One has been the almost lock-step tendency of Democrats -- elites and ordinary citizens -- to rally around either Bill or Hill, including engaging in the politics of personal destruction even to the point of accusing some poor boob of something that is “morally equivalent” of whatever Bill and/or Hill is accused of doing. 

Think back to the days of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Democrat elites such as James Carville, Paul Begalia, Lanny Davis, and Sidney Blumenthal regularly attacked the character of Bill’s critics, and especially Kenneth Starr, the Special Prosecutor charged with investigating the Lewinsky affair. By the time Carville, Begalia, Davis, Blumenthal, et al. were through, Starr came across as a sex-obsessed pervert conducting a witch-hunt against poor Bill, and distracting the president from the job he’d been elected to do.

Fast-forward to revelations that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used her private server for e-mail traffic. It was subsequently revealed that many e-mails kept on that server had been erased. Bernie Sanders, the socialist who’s presumably challenging Hillary for the Democrat Party’s presidential nomination, tried to inoculate her against any damage caused by her “damn e-mails.”  Even though a judge ruled that the State Department must release many of her e-mails, the practice has been to do a document dump on Fridays, which minimizes damage to her public image. Hillary has been defended by some of the same Democrat elites who made up Bill’s amen chorus in the 1990s.

It hasn’t been just Democrat elites who’ve rallied around the Clintons. Self-identified Democrats are much more positive toward Bill and Hillary than are Independents or Republicans. The last Gallup poll taken while Bill was president (January 10-14, 2001), for example, found that 39% of Republicans approved of his job performance, as did 66% of Independents, and 93%(!) of Democrats. Hillary is more popular among Democrats than is Bernie Sanders. Gallup polls in November, 2015, for example, found she had a 21 percentage point lead over him among Democrats. Her favorable rating was 76%, compared to only 18% who said they had an unfavorable view of her.

The overwhelmingly favorable view of both Clintons promulgated by most in the MSM is so well-known that it can be given short shrift here. Let two examples of MSM bias for the Clintons suffice. In late December, 2015, Donald Trump forced NBC reporter Savannah Guthrie to recant her use of “alleged” in connection with the Monica Lewinsky scandal. (Guthrie had evidently tried to fudge the charge against Clinton.) MSM coverage of Hillary’s appearance before the congressional committee investigating the Benghazi mess was so unctuous that FOX TV personality Megyn Kelly assailed it.

Short of smoking-gun evidence against a Clinton, the MSM will always be in her/his/their corner. (Even then, I’d bet the MSM will try to exonerate the Clinton[s].)

The bottom line is that we should not hold our breath waiting for one or both Clintons to get their comeuppance. Unless there are dramatic changes, it ain’t gonna happen. Sad, isn’t it?

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