Monday 18 November 2019

Hillary's doublespeak puts her ahead of the field so far

Can hypocritical bet-hedging and a brass neck lead to the White House

Hillary Clinton has conceded that she should have used a government email to conduct business as secretary of state, saying her decision was simply a matter of
Hillary Clinton has conceded that she should have used a government email to conduct business as secretary of state, saying her decision was simply a matter of "convenience" (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Emer O'Kelly

Hillary Clinton is in hot water again. It's nothing new for the woman frequently described in the days when she was the wife of the Governor of Arkansas as "Lady Macbeth". Even Democrats called her that. But, somehow, she always survived, and has continued to clock up an eye-blinking number of positive "firsts" in her career since those far-off days when she claimed to have "followed her heart rather than her head" by practising law in Arkansas rather than Washington: because she wanted to be with her Bill.

And once again, as she gears up to announce her intention of contesting the Democratic candidacy for the presidential election next year (does anybody seriously imagine that she won't make that announcement?) a major controversy has reared its head.

It has emerged that as Secretary of State Mrs Clinton didn't use a state email address. The address she used was registered on the site. That sounds fairly corporate to me, but it's not State Department corporate, and therein lies the problem.

There has been a concerted campaign (mostly by Republicans, but also by transparency advocates) to have Hillary Clinton's email and phone records from her time as Secretary of State handed over to the State Department.

When the furore reached crisis point recently, the former Secretary of State and would-be President admitted disarmingly that it might have been better if she had used two email accounts and two phones, but she'd stuck with the personal one "for convenience." The result is a 55,000-page list of calls and mails which have finally been handed over by her former and current aides for scrutiny, only after a fierce battle.

There was no mention, however, of whether or not the 55,000 pages were the complete record. Even Clinton herself admitted to the State Department - when it was investigating terrorist attacks which happened during her watch - that she found 62,320 messages on her account during the period. But only 30,490 of them were "public" and therefore liable to be turned over to the authorities. Who sez?

Is it idiocy or arrogance that has put her in what seems like an unenviable, compromised position? From the outside it looks like a combination of the two. But to date, the combination has been a winner for Hillary Rodham Clinton, who specialises in contradictions. And they have brought her back to the doors of the White House, this time in her own right.

When her husband first ran for the presidency in 1992, he told voters that if he was elected, they'd be getting "two for the price of one". Despite the American Constitution, so apparently dear to its citizens, making no provision for a joint presidency, one half of it un-elected, the voters accepted the gamble.

In 1996, Bill Clinton looked the American people in the eye in their living rooms, and denied having "sexual relations with that woman" (Monica Lewinsky). Hillary also went on national television to admit in what looked like earnestness, that if he was found to have been lying, then of course, it would be resignation matter. But it wouldn't happen: the allegations against her husband were part of a "vast right-wing conspiracy".

Except they weren't. But with the allegations proved up to the hilt, Bill didn't go; and Hillary didn't say he should go

Fast forward, past Bill's second presidency - which happened despite his being proven to be a public liar. Hillary became Senator for New York, where she had moved after she and Bill vacated the White House in favour of George W Bush. The Senator for New York supported military action in Afghanistan. She also supported the Iraq War Resolution of 2002 following on the horror of 9/11. But, just in case anyone thought that she was really a militarist, she went on to criticise George W Bush's conduct of the Iraq War. So: she was all in favour of war, but only if it was run in a way she approved of. Lady Macbeth rises from the dead.

Eye-blinkingly, Barack Obama, having defeated Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination in 2008, appointed her as Secretary of State. Cue another avalanche of hair-splitting.

In 2011, she stood over the special forces raid into Pakistan to take out (execute) Osama Bin Laden. Few people weep for him; presumably Hillary didn't either. But afterwards, presumably as a sop to weak-kneed liberals, she was "instrumental" in ensuring that pictures of the dead Bin Laden weren't publicly released.

She supported military intervention in Libya, during which an attack on Benghazi in 2012 resulted in the death of the American Ambassador and other embassy staff. As Secretary of State, Hillary "took responsibility" for the action… but claimed that her personal knowledge hadn't included the security risks which led to her own staff being blown to bits.

In 2008 the intrepid Mrs Clinton claimed in a speech that as First Lady in 1996, she had landed in Tuzla during the Bosnian War, and immediately come under sniper fire, from which she had to sprint to shelter with the rest of her party. NBC produced footage of the occasion: a sunny day, Hillary descending from a plane smiling happily, and being presented with a poem specially written for the occasion by a small eight-year-old girl. No snipers; no sprint to safety. Hillary's explanation? Well, she'd probably forgotten. Most people, even hardened war correspondents, don't often forget coming under real fire.

Will Hillary Clinton make it to the White House? The American tradition of puritan honesty should say no. But the last President who told the unvarnished truth (apart from Obama, whose poll ratings are currently disastrous) was Jimmy Carter. And the voters wiped the floor with him.

Sunday Independent

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