Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Hillary's Unfortunate But Unforgivable Role In The Great American Catastrophe

I am reserving most of my surfeit of post-election bad feelings for Donald Trump and the Republican Party, but my leftovers go to Hillary Clinton, who despite herself -- and because of herself -- was a lighting rod for the catastrophic mess in which the U.S.  finds itself today, not to mention the enormous stress and feelings of foreboding that so many Americans feel as they labor through a mind-blowing present and confront a deeply uncertain future. 
Let me hasten to add that Clinton, to a great extent, was a victim of circumstances.   
There was the relentless right-wing noise machine that dogged her for decades, not to mention the institutionalized misogyny and double standard for working women that a man aspiring to be president would never have to endure.  Clinton's dedication to good works is legendary among people for whom there is no higher calling than public service. Those she has allowed to become close to her invariably describe someone who is warm and deeply caring.   
But as a hugely important New York Times story this past weekend reveals -- not so much in its devastating conclusion that James Comey may have thrown the election because of the very different ways the FBI investigated Clinton and Trump than in the briefly noted backstory of Clinton's failures -- America would not be in such dire straits today had she not kept giving her enemies fresh ammunition.   
It is easy to conclude from The Times story that Comey was biased toward Trump, but that is a cop-out.   
Yes, the Russians did what they did, with a big assist from WikiLeaks and probably the Trump campaign, as well, and Trump did what he did with a big assist from millions of ignorant voters.  There also was a failure of leadership of enormous proportions in the Obama White House as the gravity of Russian election meddling and probability of collusion by the Trump campaign became shockingly obvious in the weeks before the November 8 election, which as the pollsters said despite getting a lot of other things wrong, was Clinton's to lose. 
History will show that Clinton's propensity for self-inflicted wounds, as well as some very bad luck, was gasoline that helped fuel the fire that The Times story so compellingly recounts.  These wounds included a penchant for secrecy that was driven, most certainly in part, by her right-wing tormenters that nevertheless resulted in her questionable use of a private email server and squirrely email practices, shadowy family foundation activities and enormous paydays making private speeches to Wall Street fat cats while publicly decrying their profligacy.   
And while I'm piling on, what did Clinton stand for?  Why was she running for president?  Beyond "because it's my turn," I still have not been able to suss out a plausible answer, and neither could the staffers calling the shots in a presidential campaign so atrociously run that it resembled a Kafka-esque comedy minus the laughs unless you consider the consequence -- a Trump presidency -- to be funny.   
About that very bad luck: At several junctures, Clinton's truly sucked. 
As The Times story notes, aircraft carrying Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton happened to be at the Phoenix airport on the same day in late June 2016 and the unwise and impromptu chat between them during the FBI's investigation of Hillary Clinton's emails provoked a firestorm, while some of those emails later ended up on a computer belonging to sex pervert Anthony Weiner, who happened to be married to her close advisor, Huma Abedin, and was being investigated by the FBI.   
Their discovery prompted Comey to reopen the Clinton probe only days before an election that would radically alter the course of history and put American democracy on life support.
Declaring that Hillary Clinton's lightning-rod role in this enormous tragedy is being overlooked in the rush to identify other villains may seem like sour grapes.  And if it seems like I am proffering the equivalent of blaming the victim of a rape, that is certainly not my intention. 
But no matter your perspective, the story of the slow-motion disaster of the past couple of years -- beginning with the first Russian efforts in 2015 to hack Democratic interests through to the approaching 100-day mark of a man profoundly unfit for the presidency -- is incomplete without noting the role Clinton herself played.   
Historians will be dining out on these dramatic events for years to come.  It is my belief that the more perceptive ones will be unkind to Comey and wonder why he didn't climb onto the recusal bandwagon, let alone why no one investigated the FBI.  They will eviscerate Trump and his putrid posse.  And perhaps give Clinton more of a pass than I am willing to give her now.  As apparently are an outsized number of her former supporters according to polls showing that four times as many Clinton voters as Trump voters now say they would back someone else if there was an election redo. 
Of one thing we can be sure: The 2016 election cycle brought down the curtain on two political dynasties.  
The Bush dynasty ended with a whimper as Jeb revealed his incredible lightness of being.  Besides which, America has had quite enough of Bushes even if Dubya seems to have been . . . well, actually somewhat presidential compared to the plutocrat who is less occupying than destroying the Oval Office these days.   
The Clinton dynasty ended with a thud as Hillary captured the popular vote but lost the Electoral College as only a pathetic 55 percent of eligible voters stirred themselves to actually do so.  We can be fairly certain that we've seen the last of her save for the inevitable memwow and mega-buck mea culpa lecture tour.  This hopefully also will mean seeing less of Bubba, as well.   
But if daughter Chelsea decides to try to keep the Clinton family flame burning . . . oh, please spare us, Dear Lord.


Anonymous said...

And while I'm piling on, what did Clinton stand for? Why was she running for president? Beyond "because it's my turn," I still have not been able to suss out a plausible answer<\blockquote>

Did you try visiting her campaign website? There was a whole list of policy proposals and positions. I might be going out on a limb here, but if I had to guess a reason for her running it would be to enact those policies and proposals.

She also gave lots of speeches during the campaign where she laid out her vision for the country. The media didn't really cover them because they were too busy showing the podium where Trump was going to speak, but I think you can still find them on YouTube. Lots of stuff about protecting minorities, the environment, growing a 21st century economy, reigning in the shadow banking industry, putting together an economy that works for everyone.

Hillary also has an entire career to look at. Access to Health Care and Women's rights and support for children factored fairly heavily in where she spend her time and effort. Even if you were cut off from all news starting the day she announced her run for Presidency, it would be reasonable to assume that she was pursuing the Presidency to further advance the causes she's always fought for.

Failing that, she's a grandmother. Maybe she just ran for President because she didn't want the Republicans to fuck up the country and the planet. That seems like a pretty solid reason to me. It's why even if she had lost the primary, I would have drug myself across broken glass, squeezed through razor wire and swam through a river of battery acid to vote for Bernie Sanders.

Anonymous said...

Yes you nailed it. She most assuredly is not blameless.

Bscharlott said...

Hillary is what she is. And I think she's damned impressive. I wish I had a tenth of her drive. But I cannot wholly reject your argument.

But don't be morose. We'll survive Trump.

Joe Biden! Where were you when we needed you?


I sometimes disagree with you, but I think this is on the spot. Ms. Clinton's propensity for limiting what she says and what information and documents get released is notorious. Last June on my way to DC I listened to "On the Media" on my radio. The story was about how difficult it seemed to be for many people to build any sense of trust for her. One interviewee told how during 1993 during her husband's difficult first year as Whitewater was becoming much more difficult to manage, several of her advisors (who disagreed on everything else) recommended she just "release the documents," or something to that effect. She adamantly said "No! If we give them anything, they'll just demand more." Her advisors pushed further, suggesting that that "releasing the documents" would prove she'd done nothing wrong. She refused. Eventually that refusal became her calling card. "They'll only demand more!" The radio interview is linked below.

I spent much of my 30-year civilian Army career dealing with hostile groups and individuals in situations were they felt threatened. My friends and I lobbied leaders constantly to "release the documents," to be as open and transparent as the law and policy would allow. I once had a television reporter ask me to help him find someone he could interview who would say something critical about the way we were doing things. I explained that as a government employee I couldn't give out personal information on any private person. I recommended he go to the library or super market and keep asking.

The simplest way to say it is, if you don't want to be thought to be covering up, don't cover up. If you don't want to be though of as a liar or dissembler, don't lie or dissemble. There are things you shouldn't and can't open to the media or the public. Those things are pretty much spelled out by law and regulation.

I never have thought of Ms. Clinton as the evil demon so many on the left and right seem to think she is. However, During her campaign (and her career for that matter) there were so many opportunities for her to change the narrative. She wouldn't and couldn't do it. And it hurt her ... and the nation.

NiB said...

Try to look at the bright side. After all,had Hilary won we would not have had the summer of the howling mob which is fast approaching.

Anonymous said...

I also take issue with this post, though I find it overall balanced. I take issue with the bit about what Hillary Clinton stands for and posted a rejoinder at my place. Here's a bit of that rejoinder:

"I found it quite clear what Hillary Clinton stood for: moderation, sanity,
and continued progress on the economy and human rights. So she is not an
ideologue; generally, ideologues do not fare well in American national
elections, whether the ideologue is, just to pick two, George Wallace or
Bernie Sanders. (As for Donald Trump, though he sounds like an ideologue to
please his base, his actions indicate that, if he idealizes anything, it’s
TV ratings; he is a hollow man, a blowhard who says whatever he thinks his
audience of the moment wants to hear.)

"Furthermore, “because it’s my turn” is not an uncommon reason for
candidates to declare. It takes a big ego to run for office–any office–and
anyone who mounts a serious campaign does indeed think it’s his or her
turn; that’s part of the package.

"Was Clinton an ideal candidate? Probably not, but how many are?

"Would she have been a capable chief executive and not a medicine show
barker? Certainly.

"Frankly, I suspect that, whoever the Democrats had nominated, by the time
Republican gerrymandering and voter suppression (the importance of which is
sorely underplayed and which I think was the largest single contributor to
Trump’s elector college victory), the wingnut wurlitzer, the weaponizing of
racism, fake news, foreign subterfuge, and FBI frolics had finished, Shaun
could have written the same article and drawn the same conclusions, even
had that candidate been God himself."

chrome agnomen said...

yes, i think you did nail it at one point in your diatribe: it does sound like blaming the rape victim.

Anonymous said...

I feel everything you blame on Hillary's behavior are the propaganda fed to us by the other side. I have felt that way each time you blame her for the failings. On the other side, I am guessing this book will read like that "letter you are supposed to write to someone who has wronged you, but never send it".