I rarely write about politics on this blog, but I do write about leadership. And I have to admit that the most disturbing leadership issue in this country is the strong possibility of Hillary Clinton becoming the next President of the United States. When evaluating any leader, a track record means something, and when that track record is surrounded with decades of ethical lapses, mistakes, and scandals, it’s worth noting. And the scandals that have followed her since her early years in politics continue unabated. Remember Travelgate, Whitewater, the Vince Foster Jr. suicide mystery, and the list goes on and on…
And for epic hubris you can’t beat “Lootergate” – when Bill and Hillary began shipping White House furniture to their personal home in Chappaqua, N.Y.. Claiming it was “donated,” they only returned pieces when the manufacturers were contacted and said the pieces were meant to stay in the White House. They returned the furniture only after pressure was put on them. For a woman who came to Washington to be on the team investigating Nixon for a lack of integrity, one would have to believe she learned a few lessons from the master.
After decades in the public eye, many leaders find it’s easy to simply become a cynical manipulator. In fact, almost immediately after she entered the 2016 presidential race she started switching her positions. A year ago, same-sex marriage was a states-rights issue, but now she believes it’s a constitutional right. A year ago she was praising Obama’s “come-back” but now says the economy has “stalled out.” In the 2008 election she thought illegal immigrants should have driver’s licenses, then she was against it, and now she’s for it. But “switching” is something that goes way back. Remember when her husband was a member of a “Whites Only” golf club in Arkansas?
One of the most serious issues for the future of this country is her involvement in the Clinton Foundation and the troubling history of it’s donors. In April, the foundation released the statement that “We made mistakes on donor disclosure,” which hardly covers the problem. As the Washington Free Beacon reports: “The string of revelations began last week, when the Wall Street Journal reported that the Clinton Foundation had quietly lifted its ban on accepting donations from foreign governments. The ban was put in place at the request of the Obama Administration in 2009, when Hillary Clinton started her tenure as Secretary of State. Soon after she quit her job in 2013, however, the foundation began accepting millions of dollars from foreign government donors, including Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.”
But that wasn’t the complete truth either. The Beacon goes on, “The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that the Clinton Foundation accepted millions of dollars in foreign government donations while Hillary was serving in the State Department. Most of those donations were technically allowed due to the many exemptions included in the so-called “ban.” However, at least one of those donations—$500,000 from the Algerian government—violated the ban, and was not reported to the State Department’s ethics office.” During her time as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton helped secure lucrative foreign contracts for companies who had donated millions to the Clinton Foundation, including General Electric, ExxonMobil, Microsoft, and Boeing. In addition to the donations, these companies spent millions lobbying the State Department during Clinton’s tenure.
Peggy Noonan, writing in The Wall Street Journal: “Kazakhstan has rich uranium deposits, coveted by those who’d make or sell nuclear reactors or bombs. In 2006 Bill Clinton meets publicly and privately with Kazakhstan’s dictator, an unsavory character in need of respectability. Bill brings along a friend, a Canadian mining tycoon named Frank Giustra. Mr. Giustra wanted some mines. Then the deal was held up. A Kazakh official later said Sen. Clinton became involved. Mr. Giustra got what he wanted. Soon after, he gave the Clinton Foundation $31.3 million. A year later Mr. Giustra’s company merged with a South African concern called Uranium One. Shareholders later wrote millions of dollars in checks to the Clinton Foundation. Mr. Giustra announced a commitment of $100 million to a joint venture, the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative. It doesn’t end there.”
And now Hillary’s brother Tony admits to the New York Times that he used the Clinton Foundation to make deals of his own. Does it ever stop?
And by the way – if donations like that aren’t enough, the speaking circuit is lucrative too. Remember how she complained that she and Bill were penniless when they left office (mostly one assumes because of legal costs after her husband had a sexual relationship with an intern while in the nation’s highest office). Well they’ve made at least $136 million since then (as least that’s what they’ve reported.)
There’s much more, but you get the picture. Now, add that to her keeping a private email server while an employee of the State Department. (Keep in mind, she is deciding which emails she should turn over.) Plus, the investigation into her actions related to Benghazi continues. (“Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night and decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point does it make?”)
Has she been convicted of anything? No. While there are investigations in the works, nothing seems to stick. But that kind of legacy is just so unseemly. Sure you can buy into her theory of a “Vast Right Wing Conspiracy,” but even if that were true it can’t account for the sheer volume of controversy that has followed her for so long.
This isn’t about political parties, Left versus Right, or conservative versus liberal. The question is: Whatever happened to ideals? Whatever happened to integrity? When did America stop believing that a leader should rise above the filth and be an example? Why should we elect a President of the United States with so many ethical lapses, unsavory relationships, and past scandals? Do we really want – or need that?
Columnist Bret Stephens captured the cynical nature of today’s culture very well: “Cynicism is the great temptation of modern life. American education, by and large, has become an education in cynicism: Our Founders were rank hypocrites. Our institutions are tools of elite coercion. Our economy perpetuates privilege. Our justice system is racist. Our foreign policy is rapacious. Cynicism gives us the comfort of knowing we won’t be fooled again because we never believed in anything in the first place.”
Into that cultural thinking steps the perfect candidate: Hillary Clinton. With an attitude that says she’s above the rules the rest of us live by, she’s the perfect leader for a cynical nation that’s given up hope.
Stephens continued: “She will say, do, and be pretty much anything to get elected. And the rest of us are supposed to fall in line because we prefer our politics to be transactional not principled, our politicians to be opportunists not idealists, and our national creed to be “do what you gotta do” not “upon this rock.” This is what might be called the Clinton Bargain: You can always count on their self-interest trumping other considerations, so you never have to fear that they can’t be bought. The only question is who is doing the buying.”
So politics aside, when it comes to our country’s next leader, even as far as this country has fallen, the Presidency deserves better.