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One Last Look at Hillary Clinton

One Last Look at Hillary Clinton
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Photo courtesy of CNN.com

BY DON PORTOLESE

It is not difficult to tell where I stand when it comes to politics. I have written many articles that question the conservative agenda and the dangerous candidate republicans have put forward as their presidential nominee. However, unlike some on the left and right, I realize that no politician or party is without its flaws. Therefore, I am going to dedicate this article to an investigation of Hillary Clinton, and some of the most egregious charges leveled against her. As we examine the nature and veracity of each of these allegations, we might just come to some conclusions that would benefit our political system as a whole. We may even realize that, though a product of our political system, she is certainly not the lesser of two evils many have painted her out to be.

Just the sheer number of ludicrous and unfounded charges against Mrs. Clinton should be indication enough that she is not judged by the same standards as other politicians. She has been accused of just about every offense by the right: murder, racism, adultery, bitchcraft, etc. I could deconstruct each of these charges and show how unhinged conservatives are or I could delve into more legitimate grievances. In the interests of time and journalism, I will do the latter. So, let’s dive in.

There is certainly something fishy about Clinton’s emails. This issue continues to haunt her as evidenced by the brouhaha unleashed on Friday by the news that FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to Congress stating the FBI was looking at more of her emails which were found on Anthony Weiner’s laptop. Her use of a private server and the deletion of over 30 thousand emails is certainly negligent and may even border on the criminal. She appears to have lied during a House Select Committee investigation about her use of a private server. She said that she only used one server when in fact she used three or four. It was contrary to State Department policy to use a private email server for official business, and Clinton should have followed protocol. In the words of Comey in July, she was extremely careless. This shows poor judgment on her part and is a legitimate argument made by her opponents.

Accusations of negligence, however, get murkier when it comes to her handling of classified information. Clinton said that none of the emails was marked classified, when in reality three were classified but may have been improperly marked. Bob Goodlatte and Jason Chaffetz are leading the republican call for further investigation into whether Clinton committed perjury during the House Select Committee Investigation. FBI Director James Comey made it clear that certain paragraphs were marked with a C (for classified) within certain documents; however, there was no official header that designated these emails as such. Whether she did or didn’t know what that C within the text meant, we will see later how difficult a charge of perjury is to prove.

It is legitimate to call into question the findings of the House Select Committee and the FBI. It is imperative to question those in power to make sure they are telling the truth and upholding their sworn duty. However, the timing and the level of grandstanding smack of opportunism (as does Friday’s revelation). Republicans claim that Clinton violated sections 1621 and 1001 of Title 18 of the U.S. Legal Code. According to P. J. Meitl of the Quinnipac Law Review, proving these charges is extremely difficult. In fact, in a recent study, Meitl found that there have been only six people found guilty of lying to congress in the last sixty years. It is outrageous to see how often our government gives politicians and white collar criminals a pass. Our politicians are either on the same team as the accused or so compromised that they cannot successfully prosecute these people without implicating themselves. What’s more, people in power can buy their way out of telling the truth, while the rest of us are held to a different standard. Clinton may have lied, but this seems par for the course in today’s politics.

Lesson 1: Let’s not allow partisan opportunism to be our moral compass when questioning the actions and honesty of our politicians and other powerful people. (Oddly enough, section 1001 refers to perjury without being under oath. Perhaps this should be applied to any politician, pundit or executive who makes a knowingly false statement to congress, the press or the American people. Shouldn’t they too be charged with perjury?)

Next is the Benghazi tragedy. Despite the fact that multiple republican-led investigations found no evidence that Clinton was responsible for the attacks, many conservatives claim Clinton was directly responsible for reducing security and was MIA when the embassy was attacked. All of these allegations have been debunked, yet republicans continue to disseminate these lies.

Lesson 2: It is not easy to prevent a terrorist attack; it can happen on anyone’s watch. We need to stop wasting time and energy pointing fingers and figure out how we can work together to make sure these attacks don’t happen again. Mrs. Clinton and President Obama could have stayed on top of the situation better. By the same token, President Bush (aka Dick Cheney) and Donald Rumsfeld could have done much more to prevent 9/11. Even after both of these horrible attacks, we still have major intelligence-sharing problems among our policing agencies as well as our allies. Why are there no hearings regarding this continued security risk?

The Clinton Foundation is another target of a good many allegations. Charles Ortel has done an extensive study of this foundation and claims that many of its activities are fraudulent. Ortel says that the foundation is only allocating a small percentage of donations to charitable work and the rest is used to pay lavish salaries and first class travel and accommodation for employees. These are some serious allegations, and they should be thoroughly investigated. Strangely enough, though, I only found this story in right wing media. Nothing in The Washington Post or The New York Times. Are there credibility issues? Is it the liberal media? Perhaps. Yet, maybe if republicans hadn’t put forth such a media-sucking buffoon as their nominee, this story might have gained more traction. It might also have helped if the Trump Foundation weren’t equally corrupt, or worse.

Lesson 3: The Clinton and Trump foundations are certainly not the only charities involved in fraudulent activities. We need to monitor and audit these nonprofit organizations, so that those at the top can’t use them as tax shelters or slush funds. The rich need to subject their charitable dealings to the same level of scrutiny as the rest of us. The same should be true of their business dealings.

Lastly, let’s deal with Hillary Clinton’s persona, a major problem for many voters. Few politicians engender such hostility and scrutiny. Conservatives have been vilifying her since the early 90s and liberals have been wary of her just as long. Most of what conservatives say has been disproven, yet the myths still persist, eclipsing more legitimate charges. Liberals, on the other hand, persist in accusing her of not being liberal enough.

Despite lying no more than the average politician (and far less than Trump), Mrs. Clinton inspires very little trust in the U.S. electorate. Perhaps because, when given the choice of telling the whole truth or erring on the side of self-preservation, Clinton has constantly opted for the latter. She also does herself no favors by sticking so closely to her talking points. She is a gifted politician and orator, but sometimes she just seems too polished and contrived. To be clear, she is held to a different standard than her adversary and must be more careful with her image; however, this makes her seem too rehearsed and unnatural.

Lesson 4: Our whole political process is unnatural. It has become a popularity contest that is more focused on personality than policy. We need to get away from appearance and personality and start focusing on the issues. This has as much to do with our media as it does with the ignorance of our electorate. We need to research things for ourselves rather than let increasingly-partisan media outlets and pundits tell us what and how to think.

These charges are certainly not exclusive to Hillary Clinton. They are symptoms of an even greater problem in our political system. Like almost every other politician, she has used her wealth and position to further her own agenda. However, saying this somehow disqualifies her from the presidency is as cynical as it is absurd. Politicians need to be held to account from both parties. We need to reform our political system, so that those in power can’t use it to exploit others. We need to eliminate lobby dollars, so that politicians aren’t compromised before they even set foot in office.

Sorry, but, despite these allegations, some of which concern me, I am still not convinced that Hillary Clinton is the monster people make her out to be. The real monster is our political process, which has spawned career politicians like her. Nevertheless, while politicians of both parties clearly lie and cheat to preserve their power, I still think Mrs. Clinton and her party are far more capable of and disposed to making the necessary reforms in our government than Donald Trump and the republicans.

 

 

 

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