Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Clinton honesty ravaged by the right

By Tom Maertens

Hillary Clinton is the presumptive Democratic nominee, and the right-wing noise machine has already ramped up its long-running smear campaign against the Clintons, the most vilified and lied about politicians in U.S. history.

The campaign was intended to discredit Bill when he was governor of Arkansas and seen as a possible future president.

Among the charges fabricated by the so-called “Arkansas Project,” and amplified by the right wing echo chamber, were claims that Bill Clinton was guilty of murder, drug smuggling, arms trafficking, and of fathering a child by a black prostitute. *

Much of the campaign was bankrolled by Richard Mellon Scaife, a paranoid billionaire who told the now-defunct George magazine that at least 60 people associated with the Clintons had “mysteriously disappeared.”

After the ’94 elections, when the GOP took control of the House, Clinton became the target of the scorched-earth partisanship of Newt Gingrich, resulting, by some counts, in seventeen congressional investigations.

Then Kenneth Starr was appointed independent counsel and relentlessly pursued Clinton for six years through a chain of phony scandals labeled Whitewater, including Filegate, Chinagate, Travelgate, Troopergate, cattle futures, the Marc Rich pardon and others.

When he came up empty, Starr used the Whitewater mandate to conduct a rolling investigation into Bill Clinton’s sex life, employing dozens of FBI agents, which Starr described in salacious detail in his final report.

Clinton’s lies about his relationship with Monica Lewinski became the basis for impeachment. He was acquitted but cited for contempt of court and paid a $90,000 fine.

The six-year, $80 million dollar witch hunt backfired badly: Clinton's popularity reached 73 percent. He left office with a 66 percent approval rating, higher than Ronald Reagan’s and the highest since FDR.

In addition, the hypocrisy of Clinton’s leading inquisitors became public: Newt Gingrich had adulterous affairs during his first two marriages; his replacement as Speaker, Bob Livingstone, had multiple infidelities and resigned; Henry Hyde, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, admitted to a five-year affair; and Dan Burton, another hardliner, confessed to fathering a child out of wedlock. Subsequently, it turned out that Dennis Hastert was a serial child molester.

Hillary Clinton was not cited for anything. Those manufactured scandals have nonetheless been used to create an aura of corruption around Hillary, as are “Benghazi” (investigated by eight Congressional committees), and the death of Vince Foster, which Trump called “fishy” (five official investigations concluded it was a suicide, reported the Washington Post).

The latest Clinton “scandal” is about Hillary using a private server for official but unclassified e-mails. She has said it was a mistake and that she regrets having done it. Several law-enforcement officials told the Wall Street Journal this month that they don’t expect any criminal charges to be filed as a result of the investigation.

For the sake of comparison, there was virtually no reaction to the revelation that 88 Bush administration officials used a private e-mail server at the Republican National Committee for official government communications, according to TIME magazine — a violation of the Presidential Records Act. AP reported that as many as 22 million emails were deleted from the RNC server.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has acknowledged using a non-State system during his entire time in office. Nobody demanded an investigation of Powell.

After 30 years of Clinton “scandals,” critics cannot point to a single instance of purposeful wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton. As Kevin Drum wrote in Mother Jones, “there's almost literally nothing to any of these ‘scandals;’ we also know exactly how they were deliberately and cynically manufactured at every step along the way.”

Is Hillary trustworthy? Jill Abramson, a former editor of the New York Times, followed Hillary — skeptically — for 30 years. She concluded in the Guardian that Hillary is basically honest. Kevin Drum, writing in Mother Jones, concluded the same.

Donald Trump, unsurprisingly, is repeating the Big Lie, claiming Hillary belongs in jail.

It is Trump who has the honesty problem, and who is being sued by 5,000 people for fraud. As the Washington Post editorialized this month, “Trump Lies and Lies and Lies Again.” Timothy Egan (New York Times) labeled him as “surely the most compulsive liar to seek high office.”

The non-partisan PolitiFact determined that 76 percent of Trump’s statements are lies, and awarded his campaign statements 2015’s Lie of the Year. The Washington Post Fact Checker found that 70 percent of Trump’s statements that it reviewed are blatant lies.

Hillary’s real “offenses” are being a Democrat and a woman who wants to be president.

Tom Maertens served as National Security Council director for nonproliferation and homeland defense under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and as deputy coordinator for counter-terrorism in the State Department during and after 9/11. He lives in Mankato.

Sources:

*The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton, by Gene Lyons and Joe Conason, 2001

The Clinton Wars, by Sydney Blumenthal, 2003

Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative, by David Brock, 2002

A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President, by Jeffrey Toobin, 2012

Also published in the Mankato Free Press, Wednesday, June 22, 2016

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