Opinion: The unaccountable Hillary Clinton
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Hillary Clinton’s email scandal lingers as new emails pop up unexpectedly, she is less trusted than her opponent in many polls, she hasn’t held a press conference since before the primary elections and now new revelations — in more new emails — have called into question just how closely intertwined her tenure as secretary of state was to donors at the Clinton Foundation.
To mitigate the damage, Clinton plans nothing but continued attacks against Donald Trump.
Standard Hillary Operating Procedure hasn’t changed. After all, bad news can stink, it can stun, it can outrage and overwhelm the news cycle, but Clinton is always loath to lance the boil. So despite even Democrats now calling for the Clinton family to shutter their problematic foundation should she become president — something that could dilute Trump’s offensive against it — no one should hold their breath.
An Associated Press story from Tuesday revealed that more than half of the non-government visitors who went to Mrs. Clinton while she ran the State Department had donated to the Clinton Foundation. Although Bill Clinton had already said he would step down from the foundation if his wife wins the White House, and that foreign donations to the group would no longer be accepted, the story panicked Democrats and electrified Republicans. The Clinton campaign reacted by unleashing its surrogates to impugn the AP story, and by having the foundation announce not only would Chelsea Clinton stay on as a board member but the largest project under the charity’s umbrella — the Clinton Health Access Initiative — would likely continue accepting foreign and corporate donations.
Clinton does defiance, denial and deflection but not accountability. Her persecution complex prohibits it, so she instead projects all sorts of terrible deeds onto unknown, even fictional Republicans, whom she has held responsible over the years for everything from her husband’s sexual affair with an unpaid White House intern to an Obama administration investigation into her rogue email server. And when situations call for specifics, like in an FBI interview, well it’s fair game to throw good people like Colin Powell under the bus.
Democrats continue to find this gobsmacking, but it’s nothing new. Who could imagine the gall it would take, while running for president — a second time — to take government records and store them on an unsecured server vulnerable to hackers? Did she not think that someday, when those inevitable congressional investigators came poking around, let alone Freedom of Information Act requests from the press, she would be caught not using the government email system she was required to?
Why, as secretary of state, would Clinton permit even the appearance of the co-mingling of foundation business with her official duties, as emails among her top staffers have already demonstrated?
And what moxie did it take for Clinton, upon leaving the State Department and biding her time before another presidential campaign, to go out and give highly paid speeches to corporate and financial interests, some totaling $250,000 for an hour or less?
Observers blame Clinton for being tone deaf. But that’s not remotely the case. She gets it, she just doesn’t care. If she looks greedy, arrogant, above the law and eager to cut corners, so be it. No matter how virulent the storm, there’s a rainbow ahead — it’s always about the ends and never the means, or the bad press.
There is no good reason to risk tainting her presidency with the foundation’s fundraising, but the Clinton family name, the financial bottom line and a Chelsea-next political dynasty has always been knotted up in the goal of good works. The foundation’s current projects could operate independently of the Clintons by merging with another charity. As the Boston Globe wrote: “If the foundation’s donors are truly motivated by altruism, and not by the lure of access to the Clintons, then surely they can find other ways to support the foundation’s goals.”
Clinton herself has no idea what’s coming in the next 70 days — a fatal email leak from the Russians, Julian Assange or Guccifer perhaps? Yet Politico reported last week that Clinton plans to “run out the clock,” on all her scandals, ethical liabilities and political problems, hoping the Trump tornado will continue to bury her debris under his.
And if Trump helps her, by calling Clinton a “bigot” and dragging out his spectacular immigration flip-flop kabuki, she may succeed in running out the clock indeed.
A.B. Stoddard is associate editor of RealClearPolitics and a columnist.
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