Do you remember that grammar school playground comeback…”I’m rubber, you’re glue. Everything you say bounces off me and sticks to you”? In the current political campaign, we are watching something akin to that taking place with the two major party front-runners; Primadonald and Hillary Rodham Clinton (HRC). Let’s see how that’s working.
Primadonald: As more and more credible “dirt” surfaces from this candidate’s past, it is astonishing to note that his “unfavorable” ratings hardly change. That remain stuck at around 70% which means that he has a 30% hard core of supporters who could less about his serious character flaws like serial philandering, serial lying, and vacuous policy positions. In fact, in national polls, the gap between Primadonald and HRC has actually shrunk in spite of his overall imagine that would have disqualified any other office-seeker long ago. Clearly, in the school yard taunt, Primadonald is the “rubber”, or maybe teflon is a better analogy since nothing seems to stick.
Of course, this may all change for better or worse. Republicans leadership as represented by House Speaker Paul Ryan is desperately trying to get their presumptive nominee to start going public with “softer” statements that are better aligned with orthodox conservative principles. (1) In effect, that’s asking Primadonald to not be Primadonald or to at least come across as Primadonald-lite. If that sort of shift occurs, look for the candidate’s numbers to go up, and for more and more notable Republicans to come out and endorse him, something they are currently trying to avoid doing (2).
HRC: As has repeatedly been documented, the candidate’s unfavorables make her election chances “iffy”. While there are multiple reasons for those low rankings, one that stands out is the ability of conservatives to create a narrative that puts their adversary in the middle of one scandal after another.
This gambit began 22 years ago in 1994 with what came to be known as the “Whitewater scandal”. It involved a land deal that went not only bad, but crooked, though it netted the Clintons a tidy sum of money. HRC got caught up in this because the Rose Law Firm that she worked for at the time was intimately involved in handling legal aspects of the transaction.
Congressional Republicans saw an opportunity to achieve a “two-fer”; i.e. bring down both husband, then a sitting president, and wife. They demanded and got from the Department of Justice under Attorney General Janet Reno, the appointment of a Special Investigator named Robert Fisk who lasted at his detective work for approximately six months. In that time, the same Republican representatives who sought Fisk’s appointment became disenchanted with the man inasmuch as he had failed to turn up any wrongdoing on the part of the Clintons (3). This required that he be cast aside in favor of the appointment of a new Investigative Counsel who just happened to be Ken Starr.
Starr took to his new job with aplomb, yet gave up on pursuing the Whitewater matter in favor of chasing another emerging scandal that implicated the president in sexual misconduct. So sensational was this possibility that what got lost in the news cycle was the Clintons’ innocence in the tarnished land deal. It simply never got the attention that it deserved. The record was never set straight so that as a result, to this day, conservatives will throw out “Whitewater” as evidence of the couple’s guilt. That specific charge is, in fact, without foundation but it had its impact on the public mind.
Whitewater was just the first in a string of accusations hurled at HRC by people on the right. Next up was the so-called “Travelgate” scandal that involved some embezzled funds from the White House Travel Office. This matter was investigated, the perpetrators caught and fired with due media coverage that again paid too little attention to HRC’s innocence.
Quick on the heels of Travelgate, there was the death of a man named Vince Foster who was working in the White House as an attorney advising the president. Conservatives’ “spin” on this tragedy was that Foster’s death had been “arranged” by the Clintons so that the deceased could not engage in a “tell-all” about the couple’s dirty deeds, though none were ever specified. Foster’s death was investigated twice with the same result; it was a suicide. But not in the minds of conservatives who persist in holding it up as yet another case of Clinton lawlessness.
Even after the Clintons left the White House, conservatives continued their efforts to smear whatever the two were doing. For example, the ex-president’s Clinton Global Initiative came in for its share of negative rumors and innuendo. Obviously, there had been no change in their game plan and they saw a huge opportunity to really ramp it up with the deaths of four US personnel and Ambassador Chris Stevens in a terrorist attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Before a single fact had been established, the cries for HRC’s head on a stake posted outside the State Department were heard everywhere on the right. This was not just criminality of the woman’s part; it was treasonous. Rumors swirled – she had ordered our military to “stand down” and do nothing to thwart the attack – she was “disengaged” and “didn’t care” (4).
Now, there is no question that our elected officials had to get to the bottom of what had happened. To that end, at different times, there were in session six separate congressional committees looking into this tragedy; how could it have happened, who, if anybody, was responsible, and how can we prevent this from happening again? This was a major story and clips from the various committees’ work routinely made the evening news. But, here again, we see the national media giving less than a full treatment to the decision rendered by each of those half-dozen groups; i.e. Secretary of State Clinton was found innocent of any willful negligence or criminal wrongdoing.
In spite of these outcomes that all arrived at the same conclusion, then-House Speaker John Boehner formed a Select Benghazi Committee, ostensibly (5) to get the “full story” of what happened in Libya. That group’s work has now been ongoing for two years and included a marathon 11-hour interrogation of HRC.
The result of this latest effort has added nothing to our understanding insofar as Benghazi is concerned. But, the Committee did learn that HRC had set up a private server in her home and had been using it to send and receive sensitive e-mails that may have compromised national security. This matter is now under investigation and that is where we are now.
Epilogue: As noted much earlier, these many attempts to degrade HRC as a person and candidate have been in progress for a full 22 years and at a cost of several millions of taxpayers’ dollars. To the extent that they have contributed to the woman’s unfavorables with voters, she is the “glue” in the schoolyard pushback.
1.One sign that this makeover has already begun can be found in Primadonald’s new meek statement that his pledge to ban all Muslims from entering the US was merely a “suggestion”. That’s quite a departure from his standing before a rally and reading a declaration about the ban which he held aloft and brandished like a pistol.
2.In a classic example of trying to avoid being openly for Primadonald we have Senator Kelly Ayotte saying that she would “support” him, but not “endorse” him. Huh?????
3. Web Hubble along with James and Susan McDougal were found guilty of one or another crime in the Whitewater scandal.
4. During her testimony about Benghazi before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, HRC was asked what she believed was the stimulus for the terrorist attack. She replied “At this point, what does it matter?” Conservatives conveniently omitted both the context and the phrase “At this point….” so as to dishonestly portray the Secretary as callous and indifferent to the deaths of the five Americans as that was happening.
5. It became evident that the House Select Benghazi Committee was more than anything else, a means of attacking HRC and bringing down her electability. Senate Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy inadvertently gave that “game” away when he bragged on Fox News that the group’s real goal was being met.