Listening to President Bill Clinton speak at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night, the night Hillary was formally nominated by the Democrats, one might be forgiven for wondering about whom he was speaking. In attempting to cast Hillary as the great love of his life, the indispensable “change agent,” the woman with whom he has been “walking and talking and laughing” since they met in the early 1970s, President Clinton asked America to see the “real” Hillary, ignore the one that is “made up,” and forget everything that has made Hillary (in)famous.
Hillary, the former Republican who failed the D.C. bar exam, is many things, but an agent for positive change – and the great love of Bill’s life – is not one of them. Everywhere she has gone, scandal and eventual public opprobrium have followed her.
In 1978, Bill and Hillary invested borrowed funds in the Whitewater real estate investment scheme in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas with James and Susan McDougal. It was a sham, and the eventual investigation of the Clintons led to Bill Clinton’s impeachment for perjury and obstruction of justice nearly 20 years later.
In Arkansas in the 1980s, Hillary and the other lawyers at the Rose Law Firm were implicated in numerous scandals (including hiding billing records, and document destruction intended to deceive financial regulatory officials looking into the Whitewater mess) serious enough to land her law partners, including Webster Hubbel, in federal prison. Somehow, she escaped indictment. (Coincidentally, the “missing” records showed up at the White House residence in January of 1996.)
As first lady in the 1990s, she was known for meddling in substantive policy issues and leading a failed effort at nationalized health care. She also fired seven staffers from the White House Travel Office after they raised questions about the First Family’s extensive use of government assets for personal travel.
As protector-in-chief of the commander-in-chief, she was best known for orchestrating public vilification campaigns against Bill’s lovers turned accusers. The only glass ceiling in her orbit was the one she smashed down on the women who tried to blow the whistle on Bill’s sexual assaults. Call her demonizer-in-chief.
Hillary also holds the dishonor of being the only First Lady required to testify before a grand jury. She was almost indicted after Ken Starr’s investigators uncovered sufficient criminal behavior to prosecute. Presaging her luck nearly twenty years later with the FBI, she was the recipient of some fortuitous “prosecutorial discretion.”
When it was time to leave the White House in January of 2001, Hillary stole furniture and silverware from the White House residence, which she was forced to return, and her staff went on an imbecilic tirade and ripped all the “W”s off the computer keyboards before President Bush took office. As Ron Burgundy of Anchorman fame said, “stay classy.”
As the junior U.S. senator from New York, she was known for accomplishing….nothing. She served on the Armed Services Committee, but did she learn anything while there? The results would speak for themselves later. No one can name a Senate accomplishment, but she must have been doing favors for someone, because after she left office in 2012 she raked in millions in speaking fees from Wall Street bankers and hedge fund managers she formerly represented.
After losing the White House in 2008, President Obama wanted Hillary out of his hair, so he wisely named her as Secretary of State and dispatched her to the farthest reaches of the globe. Hillary would later claim her frequent flier miles as an “accomplishment,” but her real work was behind the scenes: the Clinton Foundation grew rich as shady foreign individuals and entities made large donations to the foundation after Hillary had done them favors while Secretary of State.
Beyond financial improprieties, the real world results of Hillary’s service were uniformly negative: our enemies (Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea) are stronger, our allies (Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt) are weaker. Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen are falling apart, and ISIS is on the rise. More politically potent than all these, Hillary has Benghazi blood on her hands and the private email and server scandal, an entirely self-inflicted wound, will haunt her until Election Day as the State Department continues its investigation into her and her staff’s mishandling of classified information.
Despite Bill Clinton’s masterful oratorical skills and obvious political charisma, Americans will not be swayed by his attempted rebranding of his wife, their marriage, and her accomplishments. There is simply too much dirty water under the bridge to pretend otherwise. If anything, Bill Clinton’s speech reminded the nation why he has been a governor and President, and why his wife is always a few scandals behind.