Is it the White House or the Big House for Hillary?
All of us, at one time or another, have complained about government corruption. Usually, though, it’s somehow harder to spot in our own party. We just don’t like to acknowledge corrupt politicians within our ranks. So we make excuses for them – excuses like “everyone else does it,” or “it’s all about politics,” or “it’s all been investigated before.” Both parties do it, but Democrats seem particularly tolerant of corrupt leadership. To some of them, personal integrity is simply not an issue, as long as the ideology is there.
This is where Hillary Clinton comes in.
Yes, she has a strong following today, but the shadow of suspicion has followed her throughout her public life.
In her early years, before “Hillary” became a household word, the ambitious young Ms. Rodham clearly wanted to make a name for herself. Many already know about Hillary’s involvement in Richard Nixon’s impeachment proceedings, but fewer know about the terms of her dismissal. Her supervisor at that time was Jerry Zeifman, Chief Counsel for the House Judiciary Commission, and life-long Democrat. He later authored “Without Honor,” a chronicle of the proceedings. In the book, and in other public forums, Zeifman cited numerous ethical breaches by young Hillary. One in particular is especially relevant today. It seems that certain files in the committee offices had always been available for public consumption. The files related to the old impeachment proceedings of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, and they contradicted the view that Hillary held. So she quietly removed them without permission, to deny further public access.
Over the years, there have been conflicting reports over Hillary’s dismissal from that committee. Some argue she was fired, others say she left because of staff reductions. But Zeifman’s opinion of her remains quite clear. In 1998 he said, “If I had the power to fire her, I would have fired her.” More recently he revealed that that when she left, he told her he would not, nor could not recommend her for future positions.
Later in life came her unexplained windfall in cattle futures, the Whitewater scandal, and as First Lady, the missing Rose Law Firm billing records that had been under subpoena. In what some would see as an uncanny case of déjà vu, the records were later recovered in her quarters, covered with her fingerprints. More recently, Hillary has been up to her neck in controversy. There was Benghazi, and now the foreign contributions to the Clinton Foundation, and the concealed emails. Her life-long pattern of deception is obvious to everyone but her most ardent supporters.
And while they are quick to point out that “it’s all been investigated before,” they forget that our justice system, perhaps the best in the world, is not perfect. It is based on an important principle set forth by jurist William Blackstone in 1765, “Better that ten guilty persons escape than one innocent suffer.” What we’ve seen over the years suggests that Hillary is one of those ten.
In an apparent effort to quash the current controversy, Clinton appeared before the media to make a statement and answer questions. She didn’t help herself. She first assured us that she has provided all appropriate emails to the State Department, but defiantly added that her private server was off-limits to investigators. She claimed that she set up her server for convenience – so that she didn’t have to carry two devices. She claimed she never sent classified emails. But just as harmful as those absurd explanations and contradictory statements, was her demeanor during the ensuing questions. That trademark Clinton arrogance, so apparent when she came to the microphone, quickly faded as the questions become more pointed. The Hillary Clinton who was ushered away appeared defensive, rattled, and confused.
In 1996, everyone knew First Lady Hillary Clinton would not be indicted. Barack Obama, a man with his own ethical issues, has made it clear that she will not be prosecuted for anything she does today. So she is certainly not destined for the Big House. But that doesn’t mean she’s honest, and it doesn’t mean she’s suitable for the White House.
If the term “ethical politician” seems like an oxymoron, it is because we, the voters, made it so. We elect corrupt leaders by ignoring the deceit exposed during their candidacy. In turn, we allow government corruption to fester, and over time, it becomes so endemic that we come to accept it as the norm. It is an in indictment on all those voters who value party loyalty and symbolism over integrity and ethics. It does not bode well for America’s future.
Hillary Clinton has been very fortunate. Through political power and sheer chutzpah, she has always managed to stay one step ahead of the law. She shouldn’t press her luck. She’s come a long way from her penniless days as First Lady and would do just fine in the private sector. Even after her foreign contributions dry up, she would have those undeserved book royalties, her overpaid speaking fees, her government pensions, and her taxpayer-funded security detail. As a woman of enormous wealth, she could continue to rail against wealth inequality, and if she’s still even remotely interested in women’s issues, once she no longer needs their votes, she’d have plenty of time to champion their cause.
Peter Lemiska has spent more than 28 years in government service. He is a former Senior Special Agent of the U.S. Secret Service and an Air Force veteran. His political commentaries have been widely published on line and in print.
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