Two stories are dominating the news lately, and between them they can outrage almost anyone. One is the Obama administration’s ongoing capitulation to Iran’s nuclear weapons program, and if that’s not the sort of thing you find outrageous you’ll probably be outraged that 47 of the Senate’s Republicans have signed an open letter to the leaders of Iran warning that any agreement the current president makes which is not ratified by Congress could just as easily be un-made by a future president. The other is Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail account during her tenure as Secretary of State, and if you’re not outraged by the security risks, lack of transparency, and violation of federal regulations that practice entailed you’ll probably be outraged to learn that some people are picking on those poor Clintons again.
That open letter to Iran is “treason,” according to The New York Daily News’ blaring front page headline, and “a treacherous betrayal of the U.S. constitutional system” according to its editorial. MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews called the letter a violation of the Logan Act, adding that “They were trying to undermine the work of an American president by first of all disrespecting him, even if they don’t get charged and in prison for it.” The president himself didn’t go quite so far in his griping, but he did conclude there was an “odd coalition” between the Republicans and the Iranian government’s hardliners who are reportedly resisting any deal with America. Such sentiments are common on the left, where the outrage tends to be rather selective.
We can’t recall The New York Daily News using the word “treason” when Sen. Ted Kennedy was directly corresponding with the Soviet Union during President Ronald Reagan’s efforts to win the Cold War, or when current Secretary of State and then-Sen. John Kerry and other congressional Democrats were sending notes to “Dear Comandante” Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua around the same time, or when former President Jimmy Carter was conducting any of his numerous post-presidential efforts to undermine the American policies he opposed. We’re not sure if Matthews really meant to suggest that “disrespecting” a president should be punishable by imprisonment, and we clearly recall that he didn’t seem to think so until Obama was inaugurated, but if he was suggesting that the Logan Act needs to be strictly enforced, unlike, say, immigration law, he should probably check to see if the statute of limitations has run out on Secretary Kerry and the rest of the “Dear Comandante Democrats.” As for the president’s notion of an “odd coalition” between the Iranian hardliners intent on acquiring nuclear weapons and the Republicans bent on stopping them, we can only assume that he meant the Republicans were endangering his own heroic efforts to that end, yet he hasn’t yet offered any assurances to contradict the numerous news reports that he’s capitulating to a nuclear Iran at some point in the near future.
Similarly selective is the left’s outrage over the ongoing Clinton e-mail scandal. Those still loyal to the Clintons have been looking around for Republicans who also have private e-mail accounts, although most of the ones they’ve turned up have been private citizens, or citing the past Secretaries of State who didn’t use government e-mail accounts, although they all served before a law was passed requiring it and of course most of them didn’t use e-mail at all, or simply insisting that Clinton’s assurances should be good enough. Ed Schultz, another MSNBC person, noted that Clinton is of that “demographic” that doesn’t deal well with these newfangled electronic gizmos that the youngsters are so crazy about, but it’s probably not helpful to her presidential campaign to remind people of her age. Back in ’08 the MSNBC people were chiding Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain about his admission that he’d never sent an e-mail, and although they were forced to drop the subject when he further explained that his war injuries made typing painful the image out of an out-of-touch old-timer still stuck. Professional Clinton apologist James Carville insisted that the e-mail brouhaha was just another one of those phony scandals that the vast right-wing conspiracy has been concocting for the past 25 years, but it probably wasn’t helpful for him to recount such efforts as Whitewater, the White House travel office firings, those suspiciously profitable cattle futures trades, Benghazi, and other matters that many Americans won’t consider phony. With uncharacteristic humility Clinton conceded a news conference Tuesday that “it would have been better” to use a government e-mail account, but insisted there were no security breaches, that she had already released thousands of e-mails, that federal law allowed her to have a private e-mail account, and she clearly seemed outraged that any would question her word.
Despite her effort to limit such impertinent questioning by holding the news conference after her speech on women’s rights at the United Nations, where the unwieldy press accreditation process kept some of the peskier reporters away, Clinton found that it’s not just the vast right wing conspiracy that harbors doubts but also some formerly friendly press outlets. The first question offered an invitation to blame the controversy on sexism, which she shrewdly declined, but the rest of the questioning was conspicuously pointed, and the coverage impolitely noted that there was no way of knowing if any security breaches had occurred, that thousands of e-mails were not released and that Clinton chose which ones were available for scrutiny, and that federal law allows private e-mail accounts for private matters but requires a government account for government business. Even The Washington Post couldn’t help recalling all the past Clinton scandals, and in an article headlined “Clintons and Controversy: The Circus is Back in Town.”
Clinton loyalists might find such skepticism less outrageous coming from fellow liberals, but if the past 25 years of Clinton scandals are any indication they’ll remember the names and carry the grudge. That might even be why the mainstream press now seems so unwilling to do their usual work on the Clintons’ behalf, but we expect they’ll come around and start focusing their attention on the Republicans again if Clinton wins the Democratic nomination. Should Clinton win and decide that criticism of that Iran deal is good politics we don’t expect that anyone will accuse her of treason, but until then anyone who hasn’t learned to stop worrying and love the Iranian bomb will likely be subject to all sorts of slander and slurs.
Dissent used to be the highest form of patriotism, but that was back when Ronald Reagan was fighting the Cold War and George W. Bush was prosecuting a hotter war on terror. Now they dare call it treason.
— Bud Norman