The French, applying their unassailable Gallic logic, have an old saying: The more things change the more they say the same. This maxim sounds better in the original French, losing something in the translation. As a warning to the readers, I must stress that the following piece is not a linguistics lesson, it is, however a rumination on the questionable, if not criminal conduct, of the soon-to-be-nominated Democratic candidate for the Presidency of the United States, Hillary Rodham Clinton. The news last week that the FBI would recommend no criminal charges against Hillary Clinton in the developing e-mail scandal surprised no one, except for the Pollyanna-like Republicans on Capitol Hill, who figured that this time things would be different, and that a Clinton caught with her hand in the cookie jar would be called to account, like any ordinary citizen.
We are discussing, of course, the now infamous “e-mailgate” scandal, which, of course, was bound to happen sooner or later. The Clinton penchant for dancing close to the edge of the volcano has been matched only by their legendary political escape artistry, and we see this clearly in the still developing new scandal.
In order to place this new Clinton scandal into proper context we must now return to those thrilling days of yesteryear, namely the halcyon days of the 1990s. The nation elected a theretofore little known Arkansas governor, Bill Clinton, to the Presidency in 1992. The reasons for this man’s victory were complex, but he promised, among other things, to run the most ethical Administration in the nation’s history. The problems began immediately and eventually twelve independent prosecutors were appointed to investigate the Clinton Administration nominees. Many of the scandals that these prosecutors ultimately revealed intimately connected the President Bill Clinton and the First Lady of the Unites States, Hillary Rodham Clinton. There are too many scandals to easily recount here, but let us take a brief look at the highlights. Do you remember: The so-called “Chinagate” scandals which involved the transfer of American military technology to the Communist Chinese in exchange for illegal contributions to the Clinton re-election campaign in 1995-96? How about the revelation in 1997 that the Clinton White House, in an effort personally orchestrated by Hillary Clinton, had collected the FBI files of 200 supposed Clinton political opponents? Who can forget the fact that the Administration unleashed the IRS on their political foes in 1997-98? As the Administration sank into the quicksand bog of the Paula Jones-Monica Lewinsky criminal investigations we certainly remember the President refusing to cooperate with the investigation, citing executive privilege, and when that failed, citing attorney-client privilege to avoid giving testimony. The President was eventually cited for perjury in his Grand Jury testimony, in case anyone has forgotten. Finally, do we remember the tawdry stories of the last minute pardons in 2001, the White House vandalism committed by Clinton staffers, and the blatant theft of White House property by the First Couple themselves? The common denominator for these scandals was the personal involvement of the Clintons, and the incidental that, other than the perjury citation, the first couple walked away with minimal damage due to constant obfuscation, a complicit media, and an inept opposition.
Now, we are twenty years into the future, but the 1990s continue! We now have Hillary Clinton and e-mailgate. The facts of this case are now known, but a number of elements in this new tempest bear repeating here. First of all, Hillary Clinton did everything in her power to cover-up the illicit e-mail program, and to obstruct investigations into the scheme. She flatly refused to answer questions from State Department Inspectors General concerning the program after it was revealed. She denied that this was an issue and the trail of facts has built into a large pool of water like a dripping faucet. Finally, the official investigators interviewed Mrs. Clinton on Saturday, July 2nd. The interview was not recorded or transcribed, and Mrs. Clinton was not deposed or sworn in for the testimony. After one interview lasting approximately three hours, Mrs. Clinton left the witness chair. Three days later the FBI announced that the investigation was now concluded, no charges were recommended, there was nothing to see and people should move on to something else.
No Clinton scandal is complete without the comic opera-like figure of Bill Clinton, Hillary’s estranged husband. Last week Mr. Clinton held his private jet near the runway at the Phoenix Airport and, heedless of the impropriety of secretly meeting with an official investigating his wife, Mr. Clinton held a closed door meeting with US Attorney General, Loretta Lynch. Neither party would divulge the topic of their conversation, but under increasing pressure, the pair insisted that their visit was purely social, and they discussed grandchildren, old times, etc. Not remarkably, on July 6th, stories came out of Washington that the Democratic nominee-presumptive had already asked Loretta Lynch to stay on as the US Attorney General and rubber stamp in a Hillary Clinton administration, circa January, 2017. Does anyone dare refer to this as “payola”?
Now, we return to the main point of this column. Since we all knew this was coming we should not be surprised. What, though, does this mean for America both now and in the near future? Back in 1996 television stations ran numerous man-on-the-street interviews wherein they asked people who they would vote for in the upcoming American national elections. Many of the responses ran along the following lines: “I don’t trust Bill Clinton, but I am going to vote for him.” Now we can fast-forward twenty years to 2016. If we replayed the man-on-the-street interviews people would reply: “I don’t trust Hillary Clinton, but I am going to vote for her.” The more things change, the more they stay the same!