Franken: The Clinton self-destruction

  • By Bob Franken
  • Monday, July 11, 2016 10:29am
  • Opinion

Yes, there are several months before Election Day, and so many surprises that could upend things between now and then, but the way things look now, there is one safe observation about Hillary Clinton’s huge credibility problem: It is not going away.

Yes, her people will argue that after the decision to not indict, further discussion of her email blunders and evasions are what they like to call “old news.” Well, the old news is cumulative, and even though she escaped, perhaps barely, being formally charged with a crime, FBI Director James Comey outlined a scathing bill of particulars and accused her and her sycophantic subordinates of being “extremely careless.”

That’s like a punch in the solar plexus, and Republicans won’t let it go. They are now demanding she have her security clearance removed, meaning she couldn’t get the classified briefings that presidential nominees routinely receive. And here she is trying to build a case that her opponent, Donald Trump, is too dangerously reckless to be president. Furthermore, it reinforces the image, built up through the years, that she considers herself too entitled to abide by the rules that ordinary people must, too contemptuous of the citizens’ need to know what their public officials are up to, too fundamentally dishonest to even tell the complete truth about them, and now too “extremely careless” to take advantage of her experience in government.

That perception of Clinton disdain for the rules that govern everyone else has been reinforced by her husband’s cavalier disregard of propriety when he absolutely had to go and schmooze with Attorney General Loretta Lynch as their two planes were waiting on the same Arizona tarmac.

He’s a former president of the United States. Surely it might have occurred to him or anyone with the slightest bit of impulse control that doing so might look a wee bit awkward when his wife was under investigation by agents nominally in the attorney general’s Justice Department universe.

Hillary flippantly dismissed criticism of his little escapade as “second-guessing,” and chances are the response coming out of her campaign will be something along those lines, that while she admits it was a mistake to employ a private email setup as secretary of state, any further discussion of her misconduct will be beating a dead story.

The story changed, of course, as it always does with the Clintons. When confronted with uncomfortable questions, they usually issue a flat denial. In this case, she insisted a year ago: “I did not send nor receive anything that was classified at the time.” Then weeks or months later comes the clever walk-back. In this case, that evolved a few days ago to: “Let me repeat what I have repeated for many months now. I never received nor sent any material that was marked classified.” That, of course, was not a repeat, and now that Comey declared that there were some instances when the classification in fact was “marked,” she is saying nothing.

That’s part of the Clinton Standard Operating Procedure. When some semblance of the truth comes out, ignore the obvious need for an explanation.

All this clever manipulation has done, as it always does, is to provide openings for the opposition. The opposition in this case is Donald Trump, whose racist buffoonery should have long ago frightened everyone away. Instead, he’s duking it out with Hillary Clinton for the White House. He should have knocked himself out by now, but Hillary keeps coming to his rescue by slugging herself with her instinctual sucker punch. Unfortunately, she appears to believe that we’re the suckers.

We are owed an explanation, perhaps a news conference where she would deal candidly with every skeptical question about the emails, including the ones we haven’t seen. Until then, we have a right to ask, “What more is she hiding?” If she doesn’t do that, the Republicans will pound her into dust. If she doesn’t come clean, we might be horrified after the November 8 election results are in, that we have to get used to the words “President Trump.”

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