Bret Stephens recently wrote a troublingly insightful column in the Wall Street Journal, titled "Hillary's Cynical Song of Self". His premise is that everybody understands her moral bankruptcy - Whitewater; acceptance of Bill's womanizing; Benghazi; the Clinton Foundation; her e-mails - but that it is accepted for expediency - by the Democrats because she is the only one who can win; perhaps by the public in general because we have no base morality and the idealists who voted for Barack Obama are so disenchanted that they will now put morals aside and vote for whoever projects that they can get things done.
Let's think about that.
The Obama legacy:
- In the 2008 election the voters had a choice between Barack Obama and John McCain whose strong suit was a muscular foreign policy. The election result was largely driven by the economic collapse at the end of George W Bush's second term, but withdrawal from the Muslim world was certainly popular. Chaos, the rise of ISIS, and the confrontation between the Sunni and the Shia leave a general impression that the objective was good, but that the author was naïve and there was no realistic understanding of the implications of leaving a vacuum in a world populated by folks who don't share our values or play by the Marquis of Queensbury rules. In short, Hobbes was right - in the state of nature life is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."
- In the 2012 election the voters had a choice between Obama and Mitt Romney whose strong suit was financial management and a promise of economic expansion - as well as a spotless record of personal integrity. The 47% comment and a number of other campaign errors cost Romney the election, as did Obama's ability to blame the ongoing economic doldrums on Bush. Now six years in we still have record high numbers who have opted out of the work force, declining real income, and GDP growth that badly trails the normal economic recovery. The Democrat mantra is about "equality", but the underlying angst is the Obama couldn't get the job done.
- People of good will can disagree on how important it was to the voters in 2008 and 2012 to demonstrate their social consciousness and elect an African American president with the hope that he could put ethnic divisions behind us, but it was an undeniable factor in Obama's success. So much for idealism in that direction - despite the best efforts of Obama, Eric Holder, and Democrat congressional majorities in 2009 and 2010, African Americans have been the most hurt by the economic malaise, and the current turmoil in Baltimore demonstrates that 50 years of Democratic rule and policies has not led to racial progress.
The public's view of Clinton's ethics:
Recent Rasmussen polling shows that 63% of voters believe that Hillary Clinton's actions as Secretary of State were influenced by foreign contributions to the Clinton foundation, 39% believe that she is less ethical than other politicians (with 38% saying she is about normal), yet 57% believe that she will be elected president in 2016 anyway.
And that's before the publication of Peter Schweitzer's "Clinton Cash". There were 1100 unreported contributions to the Clinton foundation by foreign governments, despite Hillary's agreement upon becoming Secretary of State than any such contributions would be publicly disclosed. The New York Times' reporting belongs in a Tom Clancy novel: a network of Russian and Canadian uranium mining interests, tens of millions of dollars of unreported related donations to the Clinton Foundation, the State Department's approval of the sale of assets to the Russians, and Russian sales to Iran.
Clinton's paid apologists make White House Press Secretary Josh Ernest look good. The Chairman of Hillary's presidential campaign, John Podesta, was actually a paid lobbyist for the offending Canadian uranium company when Clinton was Secretary of State. While the Clinton foundation is refiling 5 years of tax returns to include the missing 1100 foreign donations, Podesta has dismissed author Schweitzer's disclosures as "nothing new", praised the transparency of the Foundation, and attacked the journalistic ethics of Schweitzer, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Fox News. Maybe we are numb.
Stephens' explanation provides a clear lens through which to view the 2016 election: the Democratic leadership understands Hillary's moral bankruptcy, accepts that it is painfully obvious to everyone, and yet believes that they can get the voting public to look beyond it because she is a woman and (maybe) a liberal, and she can return the economy of the 1990's. One would hope that the American people are better than that.
This week's video of the mayor of Baltimore offers a world's record disconnect between an elected public official and what most would consider to be common sense.
bill bowen - 5/1/15