The fictional and cinema hero Forrest Gump somehow always managed to turn up at historic moments in the latter twentieth century. But whereas Forrest usually had a positive role to play at the hinges of fate, the equally ubiquitous Hillary Gump usually appeared as a bit player who made things far worse.
Take the issue of government abuse, ethics, and public transparency. The modern locus classicus of government overreach was the Watergate scandal. Over forty years ago Hillary was there as a young legal intern purportedly advising the House Judiciary Committee during the congressional investigations. She was also reportedly let go by her superiors for unethical conduct — quis custodiet ipsos custodes? From Watergate to Travelgate to Filegate to Whitewater to the current quid pro quos of the Clinton Foundation to her recent destruction of private emails and her private server while serving as secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has been at or near lots of government scandals of the last half-century. Twenty years ago Hillary Clinton was brazenly evading federal law by hiding her legal records from a court-ordered subpoena for documents — in the same fashion that in 2015 she destroyed all traces of her email correspondence on her private server, in violation of State Department protocol and most likely federal law.
Hillary Clinton has been all over the Middle East meltdown. In 1998 the Clinton administration pushed the Iraq Liberation Act, calling for the removal of Saddam Hussein. In 2002 then Senator Clinton gave an impassioned speech in voting to authorize the Iraq war. By 2005 with rising unrest in Iraq and in worry over her own looming political ambitions, war supporter Clinton suddenly damned the war and blasted those who supported winning it. By 2007 she was ridiculing the surge. By 2008 she had berated Gen. David Petraeus’s congressional testimony that offered data proving the success of the surge — infamously suggesting that Petraeus was a veritable liar (“suspension of disbelief”). By late 2011 Clinton was helping to orchestrate the withdrawal of all U.S. peacekeepers from Iraq, the most unfortunate foreign policy decision of the last decade that birthed ISIS. She was also assuring the country that Syrian strongman Bashar Assad was a reformer: “There’s a different leader in Syria now. Many members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer.” A little over a year later, the Obama administration was issuing a red line to Syria — soon to be withdrawn — threatening to bomb Assad out of power for his use of chemical weapons. When Clinton left office, no one could figure out what American policy toward Syria was. Was it against Assad? Against ISIS, the enemy of Assad? Was it working with Iran, an ally of Assad, against ISIS? Working with Sunni regional powers, enemies of Assad? Working with moderate opponents of Iran, Assad, and ISIS to the extent they existed?
By 2011 Ms. Clinton was calling for bombing strikes against Moammar Khadafy without either congressional or UN approval. After the gruesome mob murder of Khadafy, she chuckled that “we came, we saw, he [Khadafy] died.” A sort of Mogadishu on the Mediterranean followed in Libya, as the country descended into an Al Qaeda and ISIS miasma. Of the murders of four Americans that followed in Benghazi, Clinton scoffed, “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?” In the aftermath of the killings she also falsely assured the nation and the family of the dead that an obscure video maker, not al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists, had murdered the Americans. She later filtered all her email communications concerning Benghazi, destroying thousands of emails that she insists were entirely private in nature.
Hillary Clinton came of age during the era of the new feminism, which lectured the nation about its sexist assumptions: a professional woman need not take her husband’s name; women who sleep with men outside the protocols of marriage are not to be denigrated as ethically suspect; women are to be paid the same wage for the same work as men; women need not cling to philandering husbands to maintain their economic or career viability or social standing. Yet Hillary’s feminist legacy is that loud professions of feminism can offer medieval exemption from sexist acts: she helped organize the administration’s demonization of younger, less powerful women who were harassed by the sexual predator Bill Clinton; she piggybacked her own career to that of her husband; she used census methodologies to criticize pay disparities in the work force that by the same formula show that her own female Senate staffers received much less than her male workers; she rebranded herself with the Clinton name when her husband’s persona proved politically advantageous.
In the last thirty years the once populist Democratic Party has embraced the financial elite. Hillary was there at the creation and knee-deep in the culture of corporate cronyism and personal greed. She once used her husband’s Arkansas contacts to parlay a $1,000 cattle futures investment into a $100,000 profit, oblivious to concerns that most cattle ranchers have no such influence or no such luck. Financial experts stated that the odds of such super-profiting occurring naturally without illegal or unethical massaging were 1 in 32 trillion. In frequent populist modes, Hillary has variously attacked hedge fund CEOs, and unwarranted compensation by the nation’s financial elite. Her daughter became a multimillionaire after brief stints with Wall Street funds; her son-in-law is a hedge fund owner. No American has recently better leveraged the government/private sector nexus. Clinton routinely charges $300,000 per speech to corporate concerns (many of whom gave far more to her family foundation in expectation of insider favors) and universities.
How about the increasingly politicized IRS that predicates audits on political realities? Hillary was there too for a long time — from writing off the Clinton underwear as a charitable donation to not reporting fully her cattle futures profiteering to the more recent Clinton Foundation’s serial refiling of amended tax returns as investigative journalism turns up more unreported income.
The list of Hillary Clinton’s Gump-like appearances is near endless.
Reset with Putin that green-lighted Vladimir Putin’s absorption of Crimea and eastern Ukraine? Hillary Clinton claimed it as her signature foreign policy achievement — plastic red reset button and all.
Obamacare? Hillary was there first when she tried to ramrod down the throats of the nation the unworkable Hillarycare.
Gay marriage? Hillary lectured the nation in 2008 on why it was uncalled for — and in 2016 on why those who felt the same were themselves bigoted.
The Confederate Flag controversy? For Hillary Clinton in 2016, the stars and bars were proof of inveterate racism; in 1992 she had no problem with the Clinton-Gore logo plastered over the Confederate flag as a southern campaign prop for her husband’s campaign. In her 2008 blue-collar populist moments, Hillary was not concerned about the appearance of white chauvinism when she infamously bragged of her supposedly ascendant polls “that found how Sen. Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me. There’s a pattern emerging here.”
Yes, there is.
On the great issues of our times — scandals involving the abuse of government power, parlaying public service into private profit-making, reset foreign policy, nationalized health care, gay marriage, and race relations — Hillary Clinton almost always was in the news, and largely for something either unethical or hypocritical.