Tuesday, August 23, 2016

An Appearance of Impropriety


Michael Tomasky may have a point. In fact, he's probably right. Despite all the good the Clinton Foundation has done for millions of people, it has become an "albatross" around Hillary's neck. It isn't enough to say, as Bill has done, that if she wins the presidency the Foundation will stop taking foreign contributions. It's time to shut it down - NOW, not AFTER the election. Any delay could prove fatal to Hillary's chances in November. I'm not joking. This is getting serious.

Is there any evidence of illegal activity or quid pro quo? No. Nor is there any evidence that Hillary violated the terms of the agreement she signed with the Obama Administration that forbid the kind of activity that she and the Foundation are accused of. Unfortunately none of that matters, at least not to the majority of voters. At this point, neither Hillary nor Bill are getting the benefit of the doubt here. This "scandal" has become yet another example that the Clintons play by their own rules.

Look, let's get honest for a moment. I'm not suggesting that there isn't some right-wing conspiracy going on here. Judicial Watch has made it its goal to turn the Clintons' lives inside out for over a quarter of a century. The GOP has had a hard-on for Bill since he got elected in '92. The Far Right may detest Obama, but they absolutely loathe Hillary. The idea of her sitting in the Oval Office sends them completely over the edge. Why else would the likes of Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh be so giddy about a man they would otherwise despise? A man who they know in their heart of hearts isn't one of them.

But there comes a point when you have to stop blaming the other team for fumbling the ball so goddamn much. The painful truth is that it has been the actions of Hillary directly and Bill indirectly that have landed the both of them in the tight spot they're in. Yes, Hillary continues to lead Donald Trump in the national polls, but that lead has slipped to 4.3 points according to the RCP average. A week ago it was 5.8. She continues to hold commanding leads in several swing states, and if the election were held today, it is likely she would win a landslide victory in the electoral college.

The problem for her is that the election isn't going to be held today, or tomorrow, or the day after. The election is going to be held November 8, two and a half months from now. That is a lifetime in politics. Her unfavorables are only slightly better than Trump's, and a majority of the country is so dissatisfied with both candidates that flakes like Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are seen as legitimate alternatives.

How in the name of God did these two very talented and savvy politicians allow this nightmare to happen to them? Arrogance? Perhaps. I think at their core the both of them believe they have done no wrong. And according to the letter of the law, they are right. But according to the spirit of the law they are guilty as sin.

To tell you the truth, I'm more surprised and disappointed with Bill than I am with Hillary. Bill, perhaps more than any politician in modern history, should know that perception is what drives voters. It's the reason he defeated both Bush and Dole in consecutive elections. Facts, ultimately, are inconsequential; indeed, they're open to interpretation. Ask anyone who's ever served on a jury. Many a courtroom has seen verdicts come down that defy logic, and right now the court of public opinion is rendering its judgment on one Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Do I still support her? Is the Pope Catholic? Of course I do. First, despite the unforced errors, I agree with Obama: she might well be the most qualified person ever to run for president in our lifetime, and if she wins, she could actually get something done in Washington. Second, she's running against the most unhinged, unqualified candidate the nation has seen quite possibly in its entire history. Either is a good enough reason to vote for her, but I suspect it's the latter that has propelled her to the lead she now holds.

Sooner or later, though, this insistence on playing Russian Roulette is going to cost her. Now she's maintaining that Colin Powell advised her it was ok to have a private email server. Does she really believe that throwing the only member of the Bush Administration with any semblance of credibility under the bus is a good strategy? If so, I give up. Maybe she does have a death wish.

One thing I know for certain. There's way too much at stake for this horse shit to continue any longer. Someone, anyone, has to sit her down and drive some sense into her; both of them actually since they're a team. The Clinton Foundation has to go. Not permanently, mind you, just for as long as she is running for office, or, if elected, holds that office. It won't do to simply pass the baton to Chelsea.

Fair is fair. If judges recuse themselves from cases for the mere appearance of impropriety, then Bill and Hillary need to do the right thing for something far greater than a mere court case. Will people suffer without the Foundation? Sadly, yes. But ponder this: how many more people are likely to suffer if Donald J. Trump takes the oath of office next January?

Shitting your pants yet? You should be.

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