Let's face it: The Clintons will say anything in their quests for the presidency. Just as Bill Clinton railed against Republican corruption in 1992, promising his would be "the most ethical administration in history," Hillary Clinton now is presenting herself as the antidote of the Republican "culture of corruption" and the antithesis of the Bush administration's penchant for secrecy.
What makes this argument all the more laughable is that secrecy has always been their modus operandi, and their key method of their scandal damage control.
It's on display again. In the Oct. 30 Democratic debate on MSNBC, Tim Russert asked if Sen. Clinton would lift the 12-year ban on "confidential communications" between the president and his advisers that Bill Clinton requested from the National Archives. Russert was referencing a letter Clinton wrote to the Archives in 2002 loosening the restrictions on these documents -- while suspiciously leaving in place his request to keep White House documents between Bill and Hillary Clinton secret.
Hillary rejected the question by dismissing as incorrect the premise: "That's not my decision to make, and I don't believe that any president or first lady ever has," Hillary said.
But every president is granted control of his White House documents. Hillary knows this. And as for the "not my decision" line, Newsweek reported that according to a National Archives document they obtained, Bill Clinton in 1994 formally designated both Hillary and his chief scandal-scuttler Bruce Lindsey as "co-representatives for control of his papers in the event of his death or disability." Hillary's attempt to paint herself as utterly helpless and outside the loop on making these documents public is beyond clumsy. It's just false on its face.
Why would she play the clueless victim here? Because she knows the left will ride in and trash Tim Russert as a mean-spirited attacker. Asking Hillary about making White House records available isn't pursuing wild personal allegations -- say, like whether she's snorted cocaine (as reporters did to Bush in 2000).
But The Hill newspaper reported that a Clinton campaign conference call was full of Russert-bashing. Hillary's top pollster Mark Penn complained that "Russert made it appear that President Clinton had done something new or unusual," while the other candidates were asked easy questions like, 'Is there life in outer space?'" One caller said Russert's questions "were designed to incite a brawl," and that the moderating by Russert and Brian Williams was "an abdication of journalistic responsibility." A female supporter even suggested Russert "should be shot" for challenging Hillary.