Hillary Clinton has been getting some uncharacteristically bad press the past few days. First came the revelations that her foundation was accepting contributions from foreign governments during her tenure as Secretary of State, then a scandal about her use of private e-mail accounts over the same time. Worse yet, the staining ink was being spilled by such usually friendly venues as The New York Times and The Washington Post, no less a liberal stalwart as the MSNBC network took time out from its Republican-bashing to be shocked by the latest round of stories, and even such an establishment man as Ron Fournier at such an establishment publication as The National Journal was suggesting “Maybe Hillary Clinton Should Retire Her White House Dreams.”
It’s not so brutal as what a Republican presidential might expect for lesser misdeeds, such as failing to enthusiastically affirm the fervency of the president’s Christian faith, but such disrespectful coverage from such respectable outlets should worry Clinton. The same media continue to describe her candidacy in terms varying from “front-runner” to “likely” to “all-but-certain,” but their lack of enthusiasm for this prospect is starting to become conspicuous. Worse yet, all the stories raise serious doubts about Clinton that might seep into public opinion.
Accepting millions of dollars from seven foreign governments while serving as America’s chief diplomat is a serious matter, after all, and even such a polite newspaper as The Washington Post cannot ignore “concerns that countries could use foundation donations to gain favor with a Clinton-led State Department.” The paper notes that the foundation assisted such worthy efforts as relief to earthquake victims in the Third World, and is kind enough not to mention any of the questions that have been previously raised about its finances or its support from big oil and other industries hated by the Democratic base or its salutary tax implications for a candidate running on the theme of “economic fairness,” but it does go so far as to mention that “The foundation presents a unique political challenge for Clinton, and one that has already become a cause of concern for Democrats as she prepares to launch an almost-certain second bid for the presidency.” Some committee or another in one of the Republican-controlled chambers of Congress should be able to keep the story going for a while, along with all the rest of the talk about the Bill and Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, and it’s going to take some rather heartwarming pictures of Third World earthquake victims to undo the damage.
The now widely disseminated fact that Clinton used a personal rather than a governmental e-mail account while Secretary of State is also the sort of scandal that even the most supportive press cannot ignore, as it involves violations of the law. The New York Times leads with the salient point that it “may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record,” acknowledges “Her aides took no actions to have e-mails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act,” and even quotes some experts on the matter who find it all quite unacceptable. The State Department is disavowing knowledge of the donations while congressional Republicans are already on the case, announcing that Clinton had multiple e-mail accounts they now intend to subpoena, and even the Democrat-friendly Politico was pleased to report the committee’s findings. Clinton supporters have already responded with the argument that some Republicans also conducted official business on private e-mail accounts, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who did it before the law making it illegal was passed, but never mind about that, and that past claims by Clinton campaign officials that it was an awful thing to do are no longer valid, so the political difficulties should be apparent.
Much more attention is being paid to Netanyahu’s very persuasive speech about how bad is the deal that President Barack Obama is negotiating with Iran over its nuclear weapons programs, and to the deal itself, and how very bad it truly is, but this is not likely to bring any political benefit his former Secretary of State’s presidential aspirations. Any disagreements with the president that Clinton publicly states will only further enrage the party’s peace-at-any-prace base, which is already reluctant about her candidacy judging by those capitalized and exclamation marked Democratic Underground posts and the regretful look on the MSNBC anchors’ faces, and even at The Boston Herald they’re worried that if if her silence suggests that she agrees with the deal going down it will not play well with the rest of the country.
There’s always more to be dredged up, too, if the Democratic media decide they’d prefer another candidate. The sisterhood on television’s “The View” were pained to admit their disappointment in finding out that Clinton’s Senate office paid its females a mere 72 cents for every dollar paid to its men, even worse than that phony-baloney 77 cents figure that is ascribed to the entire American economy, and Clinton’s explanation that the figure is accurate but misleading only proves the phony-baloneyness of the 77 cents figure that she’s also been citing. Going back to her husband’s days as an Arkansas political hack there are countless scandals to be cited, from those suspiciously savvy futures trades to the firing of White House travel office to her unsuccessful attempt at ramming an Obamacare-like health reform bill down the country’s throat to her failure to provide adequate security for American personnel in Benghazi and subsequent lies about their deaths, not to mention her enabling role in her husband’s numerous sex scandals, and even the most Democratic scribes are worried that the latest news only serves as a reminder of this sordid past.
The left-most wing of the Democratic party is already yearning for a candidate less encumbered by corporate ties and big-money donors and past centrist positions, and if the most establishment types of Democrats start to harbor doubts the Clinton candidacy won’t be so inevitable as the conventional wisdom has supposed. When the Washington Post and The New York Times and Politico starting sounding like MSNBC and the Democratic Underground, the conventional wisdom seems very much in doubt.
— Bud Norman