The Clintons and the chronic miscreant pass

In a recent column, Peggy Noonan noted how Bill and Hillary Clinton’s serial misdeeds have become so commonplace that both are essentially inoculated against claims that they are bad people.  No matter what a Clinton does, it’s already “old news,” in their apologists’ favorite turn of phrase.  “Nobody cares” is the next favorite.  For the Clintons themselves, “What difference does it make?” will do.

This is hardly a new phenomenon, and it is simply a reflection of human nature.  Anybody who’s worked in criminal justice, the public school system, or the military (I’ve worked in all three) knows it.  I call it the chronic miscreant’s pass.  As a young attorney I was amazed when obvious chronic minor offenders were given a pass by prosecutors and judges for no other reason than it appeared that they were sick of dealing with them.  “Three strike” laws are partly the result of this common practice.  In our public schools, administrators will often severely punish a relatively good kid for a single misdeed and let the chronic troublemaker off with a wrist-slap – because the administrator is sick of dealing with the unredeemable, or he is just afraid these kids will drop out and ruin the school’s retention stats.  In the military, especially the conscript military, the chronic miscreant has become a fictional cliché (think of Corporal Klinger among many others).  But because these men (at least during the draft) are often in the military against their will (or better judgment), they tend to be somewhat sympathetic, if not loveable. 

The media like to paint Bill Clinton as such a loveable rogue rather than as a chronic miscreant.  He might be both, but most chronic miscreants are not loveable at all, and are often among the worst people you would ever want to meet.  They tend to be willful and determined.  They also tend to be selfish, self-pitying, not self-aware, and incompetent.  Sound like a former secretary of state? 

In general, chronic miscreants are not successful and live on the margins of society.  They get away with what they do because normal people just tire of dealing with them.  The Clintons are different in that despite their regular lapses in morality, ethics, and governing competence, they have nonetheless been fabulously successful.

There is usually an exception that proves the rule.  In the case of the chronic miscreant, the Clintons are it.  The question is, are the American people so tired of Hillary Clinton that they will give her another pass and actually elect her, or will they come to their senses and finally abandon her?

In a recent column, Peggy Noonan noted how Bill and Hillary Clinton’s serial misdeeds have become so commonplace that both are essentially inoculated against claims that they are bad people.  No matter what a Clinton does, it’s already “old news,” in their apologists’ favorite turn of phrase.  “Nobody cares” is the next favorite.  For the Clintons themselves, “What difference does it make?” will do.

This is hardly a new phenomenon, and it is simply a reflection of human nature.  Anybody who’s worked in criminal justice, the public school system, or the military (I’ve worked in all three) knows it.  I call it the chronic miscreant’s pass.  As a young attorney I was amazed when obvious chronic minor offenders were given a pass by prosecutors and judges for no other reason than it appeared that they were sick of dealing with them.  “Three strike” laws are partly the result of this common practice.  In our public schools, administrators will often severely punish a relatively good kid for a single misdeed and let the chronic troublemaker off with a wrist-slap – because the administrator is sick of dealing with the unredeemable, or he is just afraid these kids will drop out and ruin the school’s retention stats.  In the military, especially the conscript military, the chronic miscreant has become a fictional cliché (think of Corporal Klinger among many others).  But because these men (at least during the draft) are often in the military against their will (or better judgment), they tend to be somewhat sympathetic, if not loveable. 

The media like to paint Bill Clinton as such a loveable rogue rather than as a chronic miscreant.  He might be both, but most chronic miscreants are not loveable at all, and are often among the worst people you would ever want to meet.  They tend to be willful and determined.  They also tend to be selfish, self-pitying, not self-aware, and incompetent.  Sound like a former secretary of state? 

In general, chronic miscreants are not successful and live on the margins of society.  They get away with what they do because normal people just tire of dealing with them.  The Clintons are different in that despite their regular lapses in morality, ethics, and governing competence, they have nonetheless been fabulously successful.

There is usually an exception that proves the rule.  In the case of the chronic miscreant, the Clintons are it.  The question is, are the American people so tired of Hillary Clinton that they will give her another pass and actually elect her, or will they come to their senses and finally abandon her?