On Hillary Clinton

Now that we’re in the heart of primary season, and everyone is gathering in my home state for primaries next week, it’s a good time to take a bit of a closer look at the four main candidates.

I’ll do them in alphabetical order, just because I want to.

I was thinking about being fair and even-handed here, but then I realized that this is my personal, private space, and I don’t need to. So let me come right out and state that I consider myself a pragmatic left-of-center Democrat, so I favor Clinton, with Sanders as a close second.

Clinton’s biggest problem is that she’s not a man. This drives the Conservatives nuts and leads them to go off the deep end in their attacks. The same thing happened with Obama, who’s biggest problem is that he’s black. Has any other president – even a presidential candidate, for that matter – had to make his birth certificate public to prove he was born in the United States?

Right Wing Nutters cannot handle a smart, strong woman in a position of power. Hillary was the subject of attacks even back to her first years as First Lady – remember Whitewater? We see this today in the silly demands that she – and no other candidate – release the transcripts of her speeches to banks and corporations.

Apparently, getting paid some $650,000 from Goldman Sachs for a speech somehow puts her in their pocket. Um….. Look, here’s how that went down. First, you’re a former First Lady who was in the White House for eight years. Then you served as a Senator, and then snagged an appointment as Secretary of State. So many people and groups are going to be begging you to come and talk to them that the only way to keep a handle on the requests is to charge a really, really high fee. That cuts down on the number of requests. As far as what gets said in those speeches? They likely break down this way:

1. Greeting and thanks for the invitation.
2. Amusing anecdote to put the audience at ease.
3. Dull, vanilla talk on some topic the audience might be interested in, or a standard stump speech.
4. Brief post-speech meet and greet before rushing along to the next thing on the schedule.

The only place for the audience to “influence” the speaker is in Part 4, which isn’t going to be covered in a transcript anyway. And when you’re as politically savvy as Clinton, you’re not going to be brainwashed in those few moments into making any policy statements or commitments. You’ll offer a handful of platitudes that allow them to hear what they think they want to hear, and that’s it.

There’s also the matter of her e-mails. Back when she was Secretary of State, it seems that for whatever reason, the NSA or some other security agency was unable or unwilling to provide her with the secure electronic communications she wanted, so she set up her own e-mail server at her home. This was not unprecedented. Clinton admitted that in retrospect it was a stupid thing to do – but it wasn’t criminal. The worst it shows is a lapse in judgment, which admittedly isn’t good. But it shouldn’t be a career-ender.

One has to keep in mind that different agencies in the government have different ideas as to what constitutes “secure”, “secret”, “confidential”, and all that. The CIA and the NSA tend to be of the opinion that “when in doubt, classify”. They will classify everything as a matter or routine. Even the fact that they might be interested in an open news item will be classified, since it’s possible that enemies (like other government departments) can learn something about what the CIA might be up to by knowing what they are interested in.

The State Department, on the other hand, needs to be more open, accessible, and available in what they do. They want people to come and talk to them, and to be able to talk to people. Public Relations is part of their job.

So you can understand why the FBI, which falls somewhere in between those two views of security, is going through each and every e-mail – and why a lot of them are being “classified” now even if they weren’t at the time they were written.

Keep in mind as well that Clinton has been forthcoming with her e-mails; there’s been no attempt at deliberate obstruction (see Watergate and Iran-Contra). She’s not acting like someone who is afraid of what might be found. By the way, if you want, you can go through the released e-mails and see for yourself what goes on at the highest levels of the State Department:


Even if some technical violation of a law is found, it’s not going to be easy to satisfy the “Clinton for Prison” crowd. First, no matter how much the GOP might wish it, no one’s going to waste time and money bringing an indictment unless they have a pretty rock-solid case. And the interpretations of the relevant laws that I’ve read all say that in order to bring a guilty verdict, you’ve got to show a deliberate intent to knowingly and obviously spread information that you knew to be classified at the time.

There’s a precedent. Back in 2012, General David Petraeus was found to have deliberately and knowingly given classified information to a biographer – even telling her it was classified. He plea-bargained down to a misdemeanor, and was sentenced to two years of probation and a $100,000 fine. There’s nothing anywhere that even suggests that Clinton was knowingly and deliberately sharing materials that she knew to be classified.

The usual course in a government scandal is that there’s an “accident” in a minor aspect of a larger conspiracy. A couple of guys get caught breaking into the Democratic Party HQ…. A lucky shot takes down a cargo plane on a covert mission…. As the inquiries grow, the size of the conspiracy is revealed. People get nervous, and start blocking and interfering with the investigations. Things expand to the point where the scandal can no longer be ignored. I’m not seeing ANY of that here. No one is panicking, no one is obviously trying to cover things up, pass the buck, or obstruct the investigation.

Of course, there are always going to be those who think Clinton is guilty of something, and should go to jail, just because.

I blame the “vast right-wing conspiracy” that she used to talk about.

When you’re in national politics as long as Clinton has been, you’re going to attract enemies. In her case, they started almost as soon as she moved into the White House, and they’ve never really let up. This has influenced her public personality. She just cannot open up and be “cool” like her husband or President Obama – and that’s hurting her. You need to have some charisma, some measure of “likeability”. But thanks to the incessant attacks, Clinton has become more of a porcupine. Not cuddly at all, and if you poke her the wrong way, the quills come out.

A bit of a shame, really, since she is the most experienced of all the candidates, and is the most pragmatic in her policies and proposals. Good, solid stuff, but not the sort of things that attract energetic and enthusiastic supporters. Nonetheless, she is the most likely to succeed at having her policies and proposals implemented, continuing the substantial (yet understated) progress made in the Obama Administration.

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