A few weeks ago, I went rummaging through my attic looking for a box of books. Not just any box of books: my Clinton books. Or, should I say, given the range and number of tomes, my Clinton library.
I'd tucked it all away sometime after 9/11 when a burgeoning collection on Islam needed shelf space. Being able to reach for "What the Koran Really Says" by Ibn Warraq, say, and not chapter and verse on Clinton corruption, was suddenly an obvious priority. We were at war, yes, but there was some consolation in the fact that our long national nightmare -- the Clintons -- was over. At least it was safe to pack away the books. Temporarily.
We are still at war, but, like a recurring dream, the Clintons -- or, as Mark Levin pointedly prefers, "the Clinton crime family" -- is back, the missus now leading in their well-worn slot at the focal point of national politics. But there is something missing this time around. Something colossal.
That something is their past -- the Clinton past of political malfeasance and corruption. I'm not just talking about Bill's impeachment, although that's part of it, what with Hillary's never-revised contention that "a vast right-wing conspiracy" was behind all her husband's political travails. But I refer also to the commonplace lies and routine treachery the American people were confronted with, subjected to and degraded by over two Clinton terms. In other words, the Clinton past is our past as well -- the history of every American who lived through those years. And it has gone missing. To behold this presidential election cycle, it seems as if the entire nation has metaphorically put their Clinton libraries in their attics.
The resulting gap in national discourse keeps presenting itself to me, particularly when called on to discuss Mrs. Clinton just as though she were an ordinary presidential candidate -- someone with a modest Senate record and a keen interest in political affairs, weighing in on the events of the day.
She's not. There's not only all that shameful Clinton "baggage," but all those questions about what's inside that baggage, questions she has never, ever acknowledged, let alone answered. It's as though Hillary Clinton believes she has no past to reckon with; no broken trust to mend; no reason to acknowledge that, to name one example, amassing hundreds of FBI files of Reagan and Bush (I) officials for political use in the White House is a Bad Thing, even if neither she nor anyone else in the White House was actually indicted for it. And it's as though everyone else agrees.
That's why the spectacle of Hillary's political progress toward the White House looks nothing less than surreal. And hence my compulsion to seek out that big box of books upstairs, to regain the physical evidence of the complex weave of money-grubbing and power-playing that made the Clintons and their White House years unique.
I found the box, finally (after whacking my head on an attic beam), filled with "Sellout" by David Schippers, "The Breach" by Peter Baker, "Friends in High Places" by Webb Hubbell, "State of a Union" by Jerry Oppenheimer, "Hell to Pay" by Barbara Olson, and on and on.
Frankly, it all adds up to a giant cascade of yuck, which both Clintons have always ducked by, well, ducking...evading questions..."moving on." National Review's Jay Nordlinger recently recalled attending a 2000 press conference of then Senate-candidate Hillary Clinton and asking: "Do you stand by your assertion that the charges against your husband stemmed from `a vast right-wing conspiracy'?" Her reply: "I'm not going back, I'm going forward."
But what if it turns out she can't really leave the past behind? This question I have after picking up the 1998 book "Year of the Rat: How Bill Clinton Compromised U.S. Security for Chinese Cash" by Edward Timperlake and William C. Triplett II. It's a detailed account of presidential perfidy in, essentially, making available White House access, policy secrets, supercomputers and military technology (including advanced rocket-guidance technology) to China even as a rogue's gallery of Chinese communist agents, spies, arms dealers, pimps and gangsters were pumping massive infusions of cash in Clinton campaign coffers.
For starters, shouldn't Hillary Clinton at least have to explain how, as president, she would ensure that these compromises to national security that happened on her husband's watch wouldn't happen on hers?
I'd say yes, of course, and much more. In other words, this is no time to close the book.