Columns » Gene Lyons

Same old song with Hillary

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Hillary Clinton - HUFFINGTON POST
  • Huffington Post
  • Hillary Clinton

Same as it ever was. Once again, according to pundits on the influential Washington, D.C., cocktail party circuit, Hillary Clinton is in deep trouble. The National Bitch Hunt is definitely on. Surely you didn't think we could have a woman presidential candidate without one? Rolling down the highway listening to Diane Rehm's NPR talk show last week, I wondered if I hadn't driven into some kind of weird political time warp.

In a sense, I had.

"Someone said the other day that Washington may now have reached the state-of-the-art point of having a cover-up without a crime," pronounced the Washington Post. By failing to come clean, Hillary had managed "to make it appear as if the Clintons had something to hide."

"These clumsy efforts at suppression are feckless and self-defeating," thundered the New York Times. Hillary's actions, the newspaper continued, "are swiftly draining away public trust in [her] integrity."

OK, I'm teasing. Both editorials appeared 21 years ago, in January 1994. They expressed outrage at Hillary Clinton's turning over Whitewater documents to federal investigators rather than the press, which had conjured a make-believe scandal out of bogus reporting of a kind that's since grown too familiar in American journalism.  (Interested readers are referred to Joe Conason's and my e-book "The Hunting of Hillary," available through Nationalmemo.com.)

However, by failing to roll over and bare her throat, Hillary Clinton only "continued to contribute to the perception that she has something to hide."

Another joke. That last quote was actually The Atlantic's Molly Ball on the Diane Rehm program on Friday, Aug. 14. It's the same old song, except that Ball was complaining about Hillary's turning her email server over to investigators looking into a dispute between the State Department and the CIA about which documents should have been classified, and when.

She should have turned the gadget over six months ago, Ball opined.

Ah, but to whom? No state vs. CIA dispute existed then.

No cage filled with parrots could have recited the list of familiar anti-Hillary talking points more efficiently than Rehm's guests.

The email flap, opined the Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg, "creates and feeds into this narrative about the Clintons and Mrs. Clinton that the rules are different for them, that she's not one of us."

Most Americans, she added indignantly, "don't have access to a private e-mail server."

Actually, most Americans don't know what a server is, or why the hardware's supposed to matter. Then, too, most Americans have never been secretary of state, aren't married to a former president, and don't enjoy Secret Service protection at home.

Stolberg saw a perception problem, too. Nobody was rude enough to ask her about the perception caused by the Times' public editor's conclusion that her own newspaper appeared to have an axe to grind against the Clintons after it falsely reported that the emails were the object of a criminal investigation.

They are not.

Stolberg also complained that both Clintons "play by a separate set of rules, [and] that the normal standards don't apply."

Which normal standards? According to, yes, the New York Times: "When [Clinton] took office in 2009 ... the State Department allowed the use of home computers as long as they were secure ... There appears to have been no prohibition on the exclusive use of a private server; it does not appear to be an option anyone had thought about."

So why are we talking about this at all? No secretary of state previous to Clinton had a government email account.

Leave it to the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza, who's written about  little else lately, to sum it all up with classic wife-beater logic. Hillary's emails, he told NPR's audience, "remind [voters] of the things they don't like, the secretiveness, the paranoia, the sort of distrust ... . And then I also think it just feeds the perception that she is a candidate of the past. Do you really want to go back to this? Yes, the Clintons bring many good things. But they also bring this sort of baggage, this stuff that always follows them."

See, if Hillary would just quit fighting for herself and her issues, they could quit ganging up on the bitch. Meanwhile, this has to be at least the fourth time the same crowd has predicted her imminent demise, if not indictment and conviction. All based upon partisan leaks — this Troy Gowdy joker is nothing compared to Kenneth Starr’s leak-o-matic prosecutors — and upon presumed evidence in documents nobody’s yet seen.

From the Rose Law Firm billing records to Benghazi, it’s the same old story. Because when the evidence finally emerges, it turns out that Hillary has been diligently coloring inside the lines all along.

And that’s because she’s smarter and tougher than her enemies, the very qualities that drive them crazy.


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