January 21, 2007

The real divide on Hillary Clinton

Sam Smith

The major media likes to talk about Hillary Clinton being divisive. In fact she isn't anywhere near as divisive, say, as George Bush doggedly pursing a war even some of his advisers and many of his former allies would like to get out of. Besides, since you never know what she's going to say on any given issue on any given day it, it's hard to have a fierce argument about her positions. Even in her kickoff for the Democratic nomination the best she could come up with was:

"Let's talk about how to bring the right end to the war in Iraq and to restore respect for America around the world. How to make us energy independent and free of foreign oil. How to end the deficits that threaten Social Security and Medicare. And let's definitely talk about how every American can have quality affordable health care."

Well, we actually have been talking about these things for some time; it's just hard to get Clinton into the conversation. This is a classic piece of Clinton rhetoric. To the casual listener she is supporting an end to the war, energy independence and universal healthcare. Far from it. She just wants us to talk about it. A neat semiotic slide, sort of like Barack Obama wanting us to come together. . . so he doesn't have to choose between us.

And it's not new. In the early 90s Clinton offered these views on the death penalty: "We go back and forth on the issues of due process and the disproportionate minorities facing the death penalty, and we have serious concerns in those areas. We also abhor the craze for the death penalty. But we believe it does have a role."

There is, however, a real divide on Hillary Clinton. It is between reality and myth and it is a divide that has existed ever since her husband ran for the presidency. But, as with her husband, the media has done a superb job of protecting its audience from reality.

This mythology will flourish until after the Democratic convention. If HRC wins the nomination, the game will dramatically change. The Republicans would be delighted to have Clinton as the candidate and don't want to spoil their chances by beating up on her now.

It is hard to get Democrats to focus on this problem, but consider this: The Justice Department's and other investigatory files on the Clinton years are currently fully under the control the Bush administration and will be until Inauguration Day.

Bluntly put, the Democrats are walking into a huge trap.

Sadly, it is not that hard to see. In the months before her husband's nomination I reported on more than a score of institutions and individuals whose relationship with Bill Clinton raised serious questions. The major media nearly totally ignored this publicly available information. Yet, in the end, almost all these individuals and institutions became a major part of what became known as the Clinton scandals.

A similar fate awaits Hillary Clinton. Here are a few of the topics that can fairly be expected to be involved in what will become known as the Hillary Clinton scandals:

- The disappearance of the Rose law firm billing records, their later discovery in the White House and Hillary Clinton's inability to explain how they got there.

- Her huge and inexplicable winnings in a cattle futures operation

- Her role in the Whitewater development which was - although the media refuses to admit it - simply a land resort scam and one that was particularly aimed at seniors.

- Her role in the despicable White House travel office firings apparently aimed at favoring the travel firm that bankrolled Bill Clinton's campaign by delayed billing.

- Her role in the use of FBI files on political opponents and the open question of what information from these files she still possesses.

- A case, still in court, involving the alleged failure to report over a million dollars in campaign contributions. Clinton's Senate campaign has already been fined by the FEC for failing to accurately report $700,000 in contributions.

- Her relationship with such indisputably dubious persons such as Johnny Chung, John Huang, Ng Lap Seng, Mochtar Riady, the McDougalds, Craig Livingstone, Webster Hubbell and Jorge Cabrera.

- This report from CNN in 1999: "Deputy independent counsel Hickman Ewing testified at the Susan McDougal trial Thursday that he had written a 'rough draft indictment' of first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton after he doubted her truthfulness in a deposition. Ewing, who questioned Mrs. Clinton in a deposition at the White House on April 22, 1995, said, 'I had questions about whether what she was saying were accurate. We had no records. She was in conflict with a number of interviews.'" . . . Ewing also testified that in a later deposition with both the president and first lady on July 22, 1995, he had questions about the truthfulness of both Clintons. McDougal's attorney Mark Geragos asked Ewing: 'Did you say the Clintons were liars?' 'I don't know if I used the 'L-word' but I expressed internally that I was concerned,' Ewing said."

There was a time when any sane campaign consultant and party leadership outside of Chicago would have told such a candidate to forget about running. But the assumption today is that all sins can be spun away.

It may seem that way, but it isn't true. The Democratic Party suffered in an unprecedented way at the national and state level because of Bill Clinton's misdoings. These scandals helped defeat two Democratic candidates for president and only in the last election were there signs of recovery.

The best favor the Democrats could do for themselves is to flush the Clinton name and its sorry memories down the toilet.