Tuesday, July 12, 2016

In Defense of "Crooked Hillary"

On Sunday, July 9, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd  published a scathing indictment of Hillary and Bill Clinton.  Calling the political couple "the Tom and Daisy Buchanan" of America politics--a reference to characters in F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby, whose careless, self-absorbed behavior sets in motion the chain of events that result in the death of the novel's protagonist and title character--she explained:
It says a lot about our relationship with Hillary Clinton that she seems well on her way to becoming Madam President because she’s not getting indicted.

If she were still at the State Department, she could be getting fired for being, as the F.B.I. director told Congress, “extremely careless” with top-secret information. Instead, she’s on a glide path to a big promotion.

And that’s the corkscrew way things go with the Clintons. . . . Their vast carelessness drags down everyone around them, but they persevere, and even thrive.

In a mere 11 days, arrogant, selfish actions by the Clintons contaminated three of the purest brands in Washington — Barack Obama, James Comey and Loretta Lynch — and jeopardized the futures of Hillary’s most loyal aides.
Dowd continued:
On Tuesday, after Comey managed to make both Democrats and Republicans angry by indicting Clinton politically but not legally, Barry [Barack Obama] and Hillary flew to Charlotte, N.C., for their first joint campaign appearance.

Obama was left in the awkward position of vouching for Hillary’s “steady judgment” to run an angry, violent, jittery nation on the very day that his F.B.I. director lambasted her errant judgment on circumventing the State Department email system, making it clear that she had been lying to the American public for the last 16 months.
Dowd then went on to rehearse Bill Clinton's ill-advised impromptu meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, which created the impression that she then issued Comey with marching orders not to indict Secretary Clinton.  And she elaborated upon the jeopardy that  her own high-handedness and lack of candor (if not outright lying) had placed several of her key staffers, who stood to become collateral damage in the scandal over the now infamous Clinton private email server.

We’re resigned to the Clintons focusing on their viability and disregarding the consequences of their heedless actions on others. They’re always offering a Faustian deal. This year’s election bargain: Put up with our iniquities or get Trump’s short fingers on the nuclear button.

The Clintons work hard but don’t play by the rules. Imagine them in the White House with the benefit of low expectations.
I posted a link to Dowd's column, without comment, on my Facebook page.  That generated a spate of comments from several Facebook friends, as well as an email from a retired colleague at Ohio State, frustrated that so many of his friends and colleagues were buying into the "hated Hillary" line, requesting that I provide evidence to support Dowd's thesis.  I replied that Dowd's observations were, like many op/eds, unprovable; and anyway I don't always post items with which I fully agree.  In this instance, while I remain a firm Clinton supporter, I resent the way in which Secretary Clinton's actions have placed me in the position of casting an anti-Trump vote in November rather than a pro-Clinton vote.

This brought another email from my colleague, offering two articles which argued that the case against Secretary has been vastly overblown.

Th first of these was "I Was One of the Most Ardent Hillary Haters on the Planet . . . Until I Read Her Emails." The article, originally published in January 2016, appeared in Blue Nation Review.  Its author, who initially posted the piece under a pseudonym, was Karolis Kuns, managing editor of Crooks and Liars, a major progressive web site.  Originally an ardent supporter of Barack Obama in 2008, Kuns's antipathy toward Clinton began to soften only when Obama appointed Clinton as his secretary of state: 
She was a great Secretary of State. Secretary John Kerry may be basking in the credit for closing the deals, but he walked through the doors Secretary Clinton opened for him.Her tenure as Secretary of State, of course, led to the bogus email scandal, which in turn led to the slow-drip release of the emails on her home server. I decided I was going to read them.

In those emails, I discovered a Hillary Clinton I didn’t even know existed.

I found a woman who cared about employees who lost loved ones. I found a woman who, without exception, took time to write notes of condolence and notes of congratulations, no matter how busy she was. I found a woman who could be a tough negotiator and firm in her expectations, but still had a moment to write a friend with encouragement in tough times. She worried over people she didn’t know, and she worried over those she did.

And everywhere she went, her concern for women and children was clearly the first and foremost thing on her mind.
 And so on, with  Kuns providing additional examples of Secretary Clinton's compassion and clear aptitude for governance.

The second piece, "Understanding Hillary:  Why the Clinton America Sees Isn't the Clinton Colleagues Know,"  was similar to the first but more detailed in its defense of Secretary Clinton, outlining "the Gap," as author Ezra Klein put it, between Clinton's unfairly tarnished public image and her actual record, citing in particular the unfair spin placed upon Clinton's performance on the campaign stump.

"If there has been any major revelation from Clinton’s email releases, it’s just how many people she’s hearing from, how many people she’s listening to."  Indeed, her basic approach to campaigning is built around listening, a virtue, as Klein sees it, but often spun as a negative by a press corps that cannot grasp how Clinton's approach, which flows from an emphasis on the importance of relationships allegedly more typical of women than men, misunderstands and finds fault with that approach because the press is used to a campaign and governance style more characteristic of men.
Let’s stop and state the obvious: There are gender dynamics at play here.
Both articles will produce, at a minimum, an epidemic of rolling eyes from Republicans, who would boo a cure for cancer if it came from a Democrat.  But they may reassure Democrats (like myself) who in recent weeks have found Secretary State a profound disappointment. 



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