I recently received my latest issue of Time magazine and found the cover story dedicated to the idea that Hillary Clinton is in the driver seat when it comes to the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 2016. This concept is only supported by the fact that polling organizations are already comparing favorability numbers between her and Chris Christie. God help America if they are the two best candidates we can come up with for the White House in two years.
I guess I am a hopeless optimist, or maybe I spend too much time studying the past, but I thought Americans had some standards when it comes to presidential candidates. The qualities of honesty and integrity have long been considered important for politicians, especially those running for national office. If Americans had known about John Kennedy’s infidelities in 1960, he would not have won the election. Journalists at that time did not disclose such indiscretions. President Johnson was not always forthright about how he was handling the Vietnam War, as the Pentagon Papers revealed, and Americans were appalled. The Nixon presidency further sharpened the American concern that their leaders, especially their presidents, be truthful with them. Hillary Clinton, of all people, should know the importance of telling the truth. Clinton worked as staffer on the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment process against Nixon. When the issue of whether or not the President could have legal counsel during an impeachment hearing arose, Clinton wrote a memo arguing that no such precedent existed. Clinton’s supervisor, Jerry Zeifman, later said that she hid files that provided evidence against her position and fired her for her dishonesty. Regardless of this seemingly minor incident, President Nixon eventually resigned and once again Americans found dishonesty by a president repugnant. Gerald Ford, though a man of sterling reputation and honestly, could not gain election to office in his own right because his popularity plummeted after pardoning Nixon for his crimes. In 1980, Jimmy Carter ran on the basis of being an outsider and said he would never lie to the American people. Ted Kennedy’s dishonesty regarding the Chappaquiddick incident prevented him from unseating Carter as the Democratic nominee in 1980 even though Carter’s popularity rating was very low. Gary Hart’s candidacy was derailed by the revelation that he had lied about having an affair in 1988. Yet, America’s record of concern about honesty and fidelity went out the window with the candidacy of Bill Clinton in 1992. His infidelities didn’t bother Americans. This was a significant shift in American preferences. I remember reading editorials about how powerful men have needs and we should not be surprised if some of their conquests involve women with whom they are not married. The irony of a liberal press making such arguments should not be lost. Bill Clinton won two terms.
When Bill Clinton was impeached, Hillary “stood by her man.” She even did the talk show circuit arguing that the allegations of an affair were the product of a “vast right-wing conspiracy.” Rather than being off-putting to liberal women in America who should have been appalled that the First Lady of the United States was in a position where she would choose to stay in a loveless marriage and support her obviously philandering husband just so she could remain in an influential position, she maintained their support. Surely a woman of her achievement did not need to ride Bill’s coattails, and yet she did. Hillary was also embroiled in a number of other scandals during her husband’s presidency such as how she turned $1000 into $100,000 by investing in cattle futures. She once said she did it by reading the Wall Street Journal. It sounded like a feasible argument, except that the Journal did not cover the futures market at the time. She was caught in misstatements related to the firing of White House staffers in the travel office and issues stemming from her role in the Rose Law Firm. The list of scandals in the Clinton White House are simply too many to rehearse here.
Let’s fast forward to Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State. Sec. Clinton has said she was under sniper fire when she landed in Bosnia when she was First Lady. In reality, she was greeted with flowers given to her by a young girl. She gave the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, a “Reset” button with the English word “reset” on it and her attempt at the Russian equivalent. Unfortunately, the Russian word she chose meant the opposite of what she intended. While this was not a lie, it certainly suggests a significant diplomatic gaff in a field where everything from what one wears to how one gestures can make the difference between improved or worsened relations. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently released a memoir that confirms a conversation that Clinton had with President Obama that she had opposed the surge in Iraq as a senator from New York simply because she was facing him in the Iowa caucus. In other words, the woman who would eventually become Secretary of State used her position on a military action in the Middle East as a political tool. I am quite certain the families of the men and women who risked their lives (and some who lost their lives) in that region at that time appreciate the seriousness with which she staked her ground. All of this is child’s play in comparison to one of the most egregious lies ever perpetrated by an official of the United States when she lied about what she knew regarding the situation in Libya prior to the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi that resulted in the deaths of four Americans. I am using the word used by Rep. Steve King from Iowa after his investigation of what happened—“lie.” When it became apparent that she had been caught in a lie before a Senate Committee Hearing, she responded by saying, “At this point, what difference does it make?” I think it should make a difference.
Americans seem very disgruntled with what they have in Washington. Yet they refuse to correct the problems that result in the failed policies that we currently see being implemented in our nation. We can’t complain that the politicians are untrustworthy and are ruining our country. We know them all too well, and we keep their careers alive by holding our nose and voting for them. If none of the other untruths matter, I hope the lives of the four Americans lost in the Benghazi atrocity will remind Americans that Hillary Clinton is not fit to be president. Gary Bauer recently wrote an editorial saying that the press doesn’t care. They just want the novelty of the seeing the first American woman elected president. We should know “firsts” are immaterial. Why don’t we take a page from our history and consider supporting someone with character. For too many American voters, that would be a first.