Thank you for the opportunity, in passing, to note that my birthday will be forgotten seconds after I have expired, but the life of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will be dissected through the ages by American historians, most probably trying to determine how much of her loss in the electoral college (as opposed to her victory in the popular vote) was due to simple prejudice against women.
January 23, 2018, New York City
These future historians will have a better idea, than we do merely a year later, whether the presidency was stolen from here by particular actions of interference by the Russian Government (a fact nobody seriously disputes, with or without the Trump campaign’s collusion) in the tossup midwestern states, or was stolen when unnamed Republican House members pressured FBI Director Comey to parade out 10,000 duplicate emails which had already been examined, with the false implication that they contained criminal or some other illegal evidence against her. Without being paranoid, it is a fair and unresolved question whether any of those Republican House members were paid to pressure Comey.
My initial experience with the Clinton team came as a volunteer in the Washington office of the 1992 presidential campaign where my first boss was George Stephanopolous, a young man so kind and polite that I knew immediately that he would never last in the dirty business of White House politics, and he did not, shunted first to a back room advisory position after a brief and disastrous run as White House spokesman, and then on to ABC News, where he has made his living ever since. One of George’s assistants, John Kroger, would go on to Harvard Law School and become the most successful Mafia prosecutor in US legal history and serve as Attorney General of Oregon. My Saturday morning partner in opening the campaign mail was former Michigan Governor Jim Blanchard, whose wife Janet, worked fulltime in our office.
Essentially three factions comprised the Clinton Washington Headquarters. The Carter administration officials and holdovers who were vicious infighters, the abrasive New Yorkers who I more tolerated than I got along with, and the Arkansas friends of Bill and Hillary who had manners and were my kind of people.
Governor Clinton possessed the volcanic temper falsely attributed to Hillary, and he blew up at me twice. Once over campaign literature that was badly photocopied and not my fault, and once over an appearance at a convention in which I had failed to do my homework and was correctly admonished by the future president.
Washington is a small town in many ways and I knew members of the Bush-Quayle team. One guy I knew was a Dan Quayle advanceman, who I coincidentally had lunch with the Monday after the infamous lamp throwing incident involving Bill and Hillary. He grinned when I brought the gossip up. He was on the plane with the Bushes and Quayle’s that weekend, and said he witnessed Barbara Bush getting angry at George and throwing the lamp at him, the story quickly spun that it was Hillary who had thrown a lamp at Bill. I believe it may have involved the claim at the time that the first President Bush had had a long time mistress, her name often identified, and so will not be mentioned here.
In the final months of the campaign I became a scheduler in the office of outreach, which communicated with and met with business groups and lobbyists for America’s corporations. We were in the middle of selling the Governor’s signature program, a hybrid private corporate/government healthcare program, and all the lobbyists and corporate groups, no matter how liberal or how conservative all signed on. The later spin that we had excluded corporate groups from participation in the health care process was total nonsense. I know. I was there. We took plenty of notes on what corporations wanted in return.
In addition that fall we had the support of Senator Bob Dole, the Senate Republican Leader, who was prepared to offer his own, substitute, Republican, national health care plan should we fail to get our plan through Congress.
I became a paid member of the Office of First Family, directed by Hillary Rodham Clinton. She remained in Little Rock as she directed our operations in Washington, the business of which involved scheduling for the inaugural week activities for the President’s family, of course culminating in the inauguration.
I liked working for Mrs. Clinton, as she was called, because she told you straight up what she wanted done, how she wanted it done, and when she wanted it done, in lawyerly fashion. I was the only person in the Office who hated meetings as much as she did. My best friend became Missy Darwin, a staff member to Senator David Pryor of Arkansas, and soon to marry Bill Barr, the son of Hillary’s best friend. A fellow Methodist, like Hillary and I, Missy got me going back to church, which pleased my mother immensely, although I attended services at the National Cathedral, not Foundry Methodist Church, where both Missy and Hillary would attend weekly.
Another acquaintance was the chief scheduler to the President-elect, Patti Solis. Patty would become the communications director of the Cleveland Browns and unsuccessful campaign manager in both of Hillary’s campaigns for the presidency. My management of the President’s rambunctious brother, Roger, will not be discussed here.
Single at the time, I did date some of the women in Hillary’s inner circle. Late nights in such work creates an intense experience that is never forgotten. You learn late at night who is sleeping with whom. Which gave me inside knowledge on the later false rumors about Hillary Clinton’s sex life.
By then I’m sure that I knew that Hillary had been a “Goldwater Girl” in 1964, young high school and college women who supported Barry Goldwater for President, and that she had come from a solidly Republican family, her father a businessman, in Park Ridge, Illinois, a Chicago suburb. She apparently became a Democrat sometime in college and would of course, marry one, Bill Clinton of Hope, Arkansas. But after a failed first term to shake up Arkansas as Governor, Bill and Hillary moved to the center politically, or pretty much where most Republicans were in the late 1960s, before they began lurching rightward, rapidly, after the Reagan Revolution of the early 1980s. Bill Clinton had helped to found the Southern Leadership Council, a group of conservative, Southern Democratic Governors. The party favoring the liberal views of George McGovern handed the nomination to Clinton in 1992 because they thought such a conservative or centrist could win, but also because the disciple of Lyndon Johnson’s methods, if Jack Kennedy’s personality, understood that the mother’s milk of politics was money, and he made the Democratic Party safe for corporate money again, something the party found quite dirty throughout the 1970s and 80s.
Yet Hillary’s conservative instincts and beliefs and policies made it difficult to wrestle the Democratic nomination from two true liberals, Barak Obama in 2008, and Bernie Sanders in 2016. And rather than run as the liberal defender of social security and our Medicare as I would have advised if I were still in the game, she followed the same, conservative, front runner strategy that had undone the leading liberal of them all, Hubert Humphrey, in 1968.
Yet my time with the Clintons gave me an intimate view of the high ethical standards employed by both the President and First Lady. They required their closest friends to follow all the rules to getting a job and would break them for nobody. Because of this, they were not able to overcome the internal opposition in the Democratic Party to the appointment of Governor Jim Blanchard to become Secretary of Transportation, his desired job. Now consider that Governor Blanchard and Janet were Bill and Hillary’s closest political friends. It did not matter. Bill eventually appointed Blanchard Ambassador to Canada.
I did become friendly with many of Bill’s high school friends, sat next to the President’s high school girl friend (and her husband) during the inaugural ceremony, and became friendly with his life time friend who unknowingly stored the Whitewater mortgage files in her house for several years while investigators were frothing at the mouth for them.
Two weeks before Clinton was even inaugurated it all came apart. I remember exactly where I was when Bob Dole double crossed us. I had just had a brief conversation with George Stephanopoulos over the bowl of cherry cokes we survived on through long hours and was downstairs in the student cafeteria at George Washington University. Then Dole’s attack on Clinton’s pledge to allow gays in the military to serve openly was the lead story on a gray, cold, dreary, Friday afternoon. I knew right then that William Jefferson Clinton would become the first President ever not to be given a “honeymoon period.” The Republican knives were out and the royalist view since Nixon that the presidency was a Republican position the Democrats had no right to, like an English Queen, was clearly the order of the day. It would all end in an ugly power grab in the attempted impeachment, followed by the equally ugly 2000 power grab which ended in the United States Supreme Court with the absurd ruling, based on no law or constitutional rule, that Florida’s election law violated the Fifth Amendment’s equal protection clause that ensured a uniform voting method, total nonsense since the unsigned opinion then declared that this was not a constitutional rule at all because it would not serve as precedent. To this day, Florida, like most states, maintains various vote counting methods and does not have a single, uniform method of counting votes. It is an increasing trend that more and more states are allowing online voting, a further rebuke to the nonsensical holding in Bush v. Gore. The Washington spin at the time suggested Justice Anthony Kennedy was the real author of this travesty, a suggestion that I never believed for 10 seconds. The writing style is certainly that of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, something I know a bit about since my law school graduation paper examined the minute details of Scalia’s theory of jurisprudence, textualism.
I was out of law school by the time of the unethical behavior by Kenneth Star and his jurisdictional gymnastics that are only understandable to other lawyers, including back-channeled advice from Star and a sitting federal judge to the Paula Jones legal team to bring a federal lawsuit, any federal lawsuit, so Starr could have an excuse to depose President Clinton under oath. This, of course, led to the Republican power grab of 1996 and the impeachment, in which Monica Lewinsky played the starring role by claiming she and Bill were “soul mates.”
I want to address something I was not part of, Hillary Clinton’s term as Secretary of State. My honest opinion is that she was an average Secretary of State, essentially paid off with that position for the same reason President Lincoln paid off William Seward with the job, so she would not run against him next time. But in the language of “pay offs,” let us understand the present and renewed investigation of the Clinton Foundation and the allegation that the Foundation received contributions in return for foreign contracts is outright false and let me explain why.
Government contracts, many of which involve foreign aid, are handed out by the Commerce Department, not State Department, after competitive bidding that is closely monitored, and after congressional authorization. Furthermore, the idea that a contributor from a foreign country is going to get a government contract in a foreign country is a fantasy. The whole principle of giving out such contracts is to benefit Americans companies, not foreign companies, and indeed most foreign age packages and contracts come with the stipulation that the country getting the aid (which is almost always a loan and not a gift) must employ a specified U.S. company who has been awarded the contract.
To the degree that there is a political appointee in the Commerce Department who might favors a particular company, that favoritism would be mitigated by the highly watched and highly regulated bidding process. Indeed I worked on such government contracts for the City of New York while in law school. And whoever that political appointee is he is beholden to the President who put him there, in this case Barak Obama, not the Secretary of State. As a matter of practical politics, Presidents of the United States do not allow their secretaries of state to hold political chits to hand out to friends or contributors.
Which brings me to arguably the biggest smear in American political history, at least since the disgusting McCarthy era, in which Secretary Clinton was accused of criminal negligence by Republican House partisans, if not outright murder, for the death of American diplomatic personnel at the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
But guess what? The Secretary of State has absolutely no responsibility for security at American embassies and consulates around the world. That is the responsibility of the Defense Department, usually the US Marine Corps. Yet instead of grilling, say the Secretary of Defense, House members engaged in a vicious character assassination against Secretary Clinton. To this day many Americans do not understand this smear.
Furthermore, in the age of terrorism, attacks on US embassies and consulates around the world, including under her successor John Kerry, have not been unusual. Yet none of these other secretaries of state were grilled before congressional committees and accused of criminal behavior.
The contrived scandal that hurt Secretary Clinton the most in last year’s election was of course her asking of a young subordinate to set up an email system on her house server to access it on weekends. From this innocent request, not an unusual one among political baby boomers including General Colin Powell (her husband never used email as President because he did not know how to use it) came all kinds of charges that Secretary Clinton was somehow reckless, that rules intended for subordinates to protect security applied to her, that she was exposing her country to mortal danger and the loss of national secrets. In short, Secretary Clinton, intending to run again for President, was claimed to have intentionally sabotaged her own chances to be President. Sure she did. But the Trump campaign cleverly understood the import of the email issue right away: most Americans used email now and would identify with it and charges of using it illegally would have maximum political impact. In fact, each time the email controversy was inserted into the campaign she fell an extraordinary 11 points in the polls. And if you don’t think that is a big deal consider this: in a national presidential campaign with more than 100 million votes cast, a 5-8 point win is considered a landslide. So we are talking double a landslide in campaign impact.
As it turned out, the Trump campaign was not content to run against Hillary’s weekend server. Even after the Russians hacked into Democratic Headquarters, candidate Trump, not unaware surely of the similarity to Watergate since he lived through it, urged the Russians to do it again!
Now it may be a stretch to suggest that shows complicity on Trump’s part in working with the Russians, but it will be up to the prosecutors working in the special counsel’s investigation to decide that, not we casual observers.
For more than three decades the American media establishment has been happy to publish the most unflattering photographs of Hillary Clinton in the same manner that they joined their British colleagues in publishing the most unflattering photographs of Camilla Parker Bowles.
To those Americans who cheered at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last year where Mrs. Clinton was falsely accused of unnamed crimes, I can say little and only shake my head in disappointment. The vulgarity, the venom, the false stories and inventions and lies and exaggerations told about the woman were extraordinary. I can only pray that the bitter hatred and misguided racism exhibited by that party’s nominee there and in the presidential debates shall never be repeated as long as there is a United States of America.
Even in the disgusting depths of the worst years of McCarthyism, political candidates did not stoop to slandering their opponents by calling them criminals, as if the United States were Nazi Germany or Mussolini’s Italy or one of the many South American or Latin American dictatorships of the 20th century.
As a student of history, B.A. degree, I am aware that Hillary Rodham Clinton’s important role in history as the first woman candidate to rule a world super power will be determined by future historians as yet unborn. They will examine the evidence objectively in comfortable, temperature controlled libraries, and most likely will have no emotional involvement in the life of Secretary Clinton.
Yet I am confident of one thing. If Hillary Rodham Clinton were a man, there is no way that he would have been vilified in such an aggressive fashion over three decades while the establishment press passively sat back without questioning the attacks or the outrageous and slanderous claims.