Another so-called scandal fails to hinder Hillary
You read it here first: "Fearless prediction," this column began on April 6, "No legalistic deus ex machina will descend to save the nation from the dread specter of President Hillary Rodham Clinton ... no Kenneth Starr-style 'independent' prosecutor, no criminal indictment over her 'damn emails,' no how, no way.
"Ain't gonna happen ...
"Those impassioned Trump supporters holding 'Hillary for Prison' signs are sure to be disappointed. Again. Played for suckers by a scandal-mongering news media that declared open season on Clinton 25 years ago. And hasn't laid a glove on her yet."
If they wanted to prevent Hillary from taking the oath of office next January, I wrote, voters were "going to have to do it the old-fashioned way: defeat her at the polls."
As of this writing, that's not looking too likely either. Minutes before the news broke that FBI Director James B. Comey announced that "no reasonable prosecutor" would bring criminal charges against Secretary Clinton, I'd made an observation to a Republican friend on Facebook regarding his expressed wish to see her jailed.
"As a personal matter," I wrote, "you wouldn't trust Trump to walk your dog." After Comey's announcement, he groused that Hillary had friends in high places, but didn't dispute my characterization of Trump. Although we disagree politically, I'd trust my friend with anything requiring honesty and steadfastness -- dog-walking, cow-feeding, anything at all.
I see Trump, I keep my hand on my wallet. Seen that bizarre interview on "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" where Trump speculates about the eventual size of his infant daughter's breasts?
No? Then read USA Today's article about the thousands of contractors -- carpenters, plumbers, electricians -- Trump's stiffed on construction jobs. You do the work; he doesn't pay. Even his own lawyers sometimes.
The man's been sued 3,500 times. Think he gives a damn about you?
So anyway, last week saw the collapse of not one, but two ballyhooed Hillary Clinton investigations. Even after two years, $7 million and 800-odd pages, Rep. Trey Gowdy's celebrated Benghazi committee -- the eighth of its kind -- failed to come up with hurtful new evidence against former Secretary Clinton in the tragic events in Libya on Sept. 11, 2012.
But then that wasn't necessarily the point.
"Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee," GOP Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy boasted last September. "What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she's untrustable."
So the committee folds its cards, Bill Clinton does his happy Labrador retriever act on Attorney General Loretta Lynch's airplane, and The Washington Post says we're nevertheless back to Square One: "Can Hillary Clinton Overcome Her Trust Problem?" reporter Anne Gearan asks.
Clinton herself acknowledges that voters don't see her as Miss Congeniality. She says she's working hard to overcome that impression, but acknowledges it's an uphill struggle.
"You know, you hear 25 years' worth of wild accusations, anyone could start to wonder ... Political opponents and conspiracy theorists have accused me of every crime in the book. None of it's true, never has been, but it also never goes away," Clinton told the Post.
"And it certainly is true that I've made mistakes. I don't know anyone who hasn't," Clinton continued. "So I understand that people have questions."
Indeed many of those "questions" about Hillary's dishonesty originated in acts of journalistic malpractice so crude that their authors would have been shamed out of the profession -- if the profession had any shame at the Washington pundit level.
Back in December 1995, ABC's "Nightline" broadcast a doctored video clip that made Hillary appear to be lying about representing a Whitewater savings and loan. In reality, she'd explained her role as billing attorney on the account. No wonder "the White House was so worried about what was in Vince Foster's office when he killed himself," Jeff Greenfield observed, an insinuation as ugly as it was false.
Her imminent indictment was widely predicted.
A few months later, financial journalist James B. Stewart appeared on the same program, promoting his farcically inaccurate book "Blood Sport." (He'd failed to read the Treasury Department's "Pillsbury Report" and had taken soon-to-be-convicted Jim McDougal's word for everything.) Stewart gravely produced a loan application he alleged that Hillary had falsified, a federal crime, he said.
Journalist Joe Conason noticed something at the bottom of the page: "BOTH SIDES OF THIS DOCUMENT MUST BE COMPLETED." Sure enough, Stewart had neglected to examine page two of a two-page application.
Oops, hold the handcuffs and the orange jumpsuit.
Anyway, if you think Stewart's career suffered, you must not read The New York Times or The New Yorker.
Anyway, nothing's really changed. Paradoxically, the collapse of one ballyhooed Clinton "scandal" after another appears to have hurt her. Few follow the details. But people suspect that she must be especially cunning and slippery to keep getting away with it.
Email Gene Lyons at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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