Skip to content

No There There?

Maybe I’m missing something. Yes, I know that there is a narrative that Hillary Clinton is dishonest and untrustworthy. There’s even the alt-right version where she is a criminal who should be locked up (for, among other things, assassinating 40 people).

To me, it just seems like people are taking any story about her and viewing it through that lens. This is not a question of me drinking kool-aid for Clinton (or even carrying water for her). I have been critical of both Clintons many times in the past. When they deserved it.

The scandal du jour is that, OMG, she had meetings while she was secretary of state with people who donated money to the Clinton foundation. A foundation that nobody disputes has done lots of good things around the world, including saving millions of lives.

First of all, the fact that a small percentage of the people who met with Clinton while she was Secretary of State also happened to be donors to the Clinton Foundation is not at all suspicious. Correlation does not imply causation. Is there any evidence that donating money to the foundation got those people access? No. Even if it did, would anyone be the least bit surprised that money drives our politics? Even the Supreme Court says that money is free speech, and is protected.

The important question is, is there any evidence that donating money to the foundation got the donors special favors from Clinton? And the answer here is a resounding no. Some of the donors asked for favors. Most of the time they did not get them. And the few favors that were done appear to be things that likely would have been granted even if the person had never donated to the foundation.

I’ve also heard people complain that Clinton should release the schedule of all her meetings as secretary of state. Uh, she already did that. You can read them yourself online. But you don’t have to, because one reporter read all 3,721 pages and gives you a an overview of the “surprisingly intimate portrait of the life of the Democratic nominee for president” revealed by her schedule. Conclusion? Hillary Clinton works very hard and meets with a lot of people.

The bottom line is that scandals sell newspapers, and the media is only too happy to play along with the Clinton narrative created through endless Benghazi hearings. In particular, the original AP story about the Clinton Foundation “scandal” was very sloppy reporting. And adding insult to injury, the AP promoted the story widely with tweets that were downright inaccurate and misleading.

I’ve condemned Obama when he has done bad things, and that’s about someone I’m happy to admit that I really like and think has been one of our best presidents ever. I’m not afraid to condemn Clinton, but seriously, this is a scandal? It’s almost enough to convince me that sexism is alive and well in the US.



  1. David Freeman wrote:

    The lack of enforcement and now the scrapping of the Fairness Doctrine is a big part of the problem. As long as media can scream SCANDAL without any responsibility to provide alternative analysis, sexy conspiracy will trump mundane truths.
    Editors are very lazy with headlines yet many people don’t read or perhaps don’t comprehend past the headline. A Truth in Headlines doctrine would be nice. Some suggestions for conservative media headlines which could remain truthful yet still arouse:

    Tuesday, August 30, 2016 at 11:58 am | Permalink
  2. Wildwood wrote:

    No one is required to tell the truth anymore. In fact I’m not sure most us of even want to know the truth because it might interfere with our preconceived ideas. The media has an agenda. That agenda is to do whatever it takes to get people to pay attention to whatever they spout. That puts money in the coffers, truth be damned. Truth has gone the way of anti-trust enforcement, banking regulations, education, unbiased courts, and common sense, just to name a few. Much of it comes from too much money in our political process and too much money in the hands of the uber wealthy.

    I’ve never thought Clinton was the person she has been portrayed as all these many years. On another site, I recently commented to a frothing tea party person that if all the allegations against her all these years without any resulting proof had been done by one person, that person would be serving time for stalking. But since the allegations have come from multiple sources it allows it to continue. People believe it because they want to believe it.
    She is nowhere as bad as is thought and probably not quite as good as I hope.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2016 at 12:55 pm | Permalink
  3. Ralph wrote:

    Yeah, the Clintons have been a reliable punching bag for right wing media and even the MSM for decades now, but in some ways they have facilitated this by setting themselves up as targets on a number of fronts (see my recent comment around this in last Sunday’s IK post, “The Best People?”). At this point, I suspect they just see it as a routine part of their political landscape and proceed with business as usual with the appropriate lawyers at hand.

    IK – I certainly agree that correlation does not imply causation regarding the Clinton Foundation’s appearance of pay to play. The argument is why they would set themselves up for criticism with even a hint of impropriety there, when it would be just as easy and more transparent to simply hand over day to day operations to an independent body. The good work the Foundation does would do no less good if their hands were not directly on the wheel (or ostensibly in the till). And there’s nothing to prevent them returning to being active partners after her political days are past. It just doesn’t pass the smell test as is. We all know money greases the wheels of politics, but after your previous criticisms of Citizens United you now seem to be okay with that status quo bequeathed by the all wise and powerful SCOTUS (you know, many of whom put GWB in office). Yes, money talks but money is also, first and foremost, power and we know what absolute power does.

    On the bright side, someone pointed out elsewhere the fact that Anthony Weiner still being alive should finally put to rest the notion that the Clintons actually have people killed.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2016 at 2:20 pm | Permalink
  4. ebdoug wrote:

    David Freeman: Headlines are ignored, because reading is no longer taught in schools. Go to a news Web site, you get a video because people can’t read. Come to my house. Numerous “no Smoking” signs that the proletariat can’t read.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2016 at 3:16 pm | Permalink
  5. Iron Knee wrote:

    David: “banal intercourse” — I snorted with laughter!

    Wildwood, I think there is no way that she (or any Democratic president) could possibly be “as good as expected”). I remember that many progressives were very disappointed in Obama for a long time (it is only arrival of the current candidates that has made Obama look really good in comparison).

    In fact, the main reason I am defending Clinton is because I fear that the Republicans are trying to discredit her presidency so they can continue to be the party of no, except even worse than for Obama because at least Obama had Democratic majorities in Congress for two years. Even if Clinton wins in a landslide they will say that she cheated, and many progressives won’t defend her, and so she will have absolutely no mandate to get anything done. As progressives, we have to fight for a progressive agenda.

    Ralph, I absolutely disagree with you. Both Clintons have already promised that they will completely step away from their Foundation if Hillary is elected, but people are still complaining because Chelsea will remain involved. The Clinton Foundation already discloses all donors.

    Second, you seem to have missed the fact that I was being ironic about the SCOTUS thing.

    Are you saying that it is Clinton’s responsibility to avoid even a hint of impropriety, and any appearance of “pay to play”? What a joke. Do you really think that Trump and the Republicans would stop attacking her then? Trump has already called the Clinton Foundation “the most corrupt enterprise in political history”. He also called it “Watergate all over again.” Not to mention the accusations of assassinations.

    To put this in perspective, Donald Trump also has a charitable foundation, which as far as anyone can tell does almost no charitable work at all. But is anyone asking him to step away from it? Why are we holding Clinton to a different standard?

    But your last line made me snort with laughter again.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2016 at 9:03 pm | Permalink
  6. ebdoug wrote:

    Hillary is going to have to address the health care plans where the “for profit” health care agencies are now backing out. Us Progressives need to do is encourage Hillary to fold the people who are losing their coverage into Medicare on a sliding scale. Medicare, I think, has always been voluntary and works perfectly except for the scam artists who rip off billions.

    Voila, we finally have individual health care for all.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2016 at 5:36 am | Permalink
  7. Ralph wrote:

    IK – sorry, didn’t pick up on the ironic sarcasm re. Citizens United amidst the otherwise serious retort. I did understand you opposed CU from earlier discussions, so was temporarily thrown off there.

    I’m not saying the Clintons are doing anything underhanded and to date nothing of real substance has been proven. But as her party’s nominee, she is expected to go the extra mile to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, especially given her history, fairly judged or not. She must be aware of her low favorability rating and it’s not just about this one thing. As piss poor a candidate Trump is, she’s still only polling about 8% higher nationwide and is still within one scandal or October surprise of being beaten. Granted, given the intransigent makeup of our electorate, Republicans could probably run a ham and cheese sandwich and still get 40%. We can wish to blame the media for all this, but even if she’s as pure as the new driven snow, here we are.

    So you’d think she’d want to do all she can to remove any hint of doubt to the extent within her ability. Putting Chelsea at the helm of the Foundation in the interim is not going to satisfy most either, I would imagine. Nor would waiting to do so until AFTER the election. Given that so few people are in her immediate loop, even the appearance of a conflict of interest is seen as tantamount to one. Given how busy she must be campaigning, how much time can she devote to it now anyway? It just gives Republicans another hammer to hit her over the head with.

    But I wouldn’t pretend for a second to compare her to Trump’s standards which, beyond the gold one or winning at all cost, am not even sure exists.

    I only strongly argue this point because it is of paramount importance that Trump not set foot inside the Oval Office, which would be nothing less than a disaster of global proportions.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2016 at 2:03 pm | Permalink
  8. Ralph wrote:

    As a follow-up to the above, an op-ed in today’s NYT by Richard Painter, former chief ethics lawyer to GWB (and who plans to vote for Hillary) agrees with my points and goes even further than I about appearances of conflict of interest with regard to the Clinton Foundation.

    As he concludes:
    “Millions of American voters will want to know whether Hillary Clinton really wants this job, which is the highest office in a government that spends more money in a single day than the entire net worth of the Clinton Foundation.

    I’m a Republican, but I believe that Hillary Clinton is the only qualified major party candidate in the race and she should become president. Yet to win, and certainly to succeed as president, she needs to demonstrate that she understands how much appearances matter, as well as facts and law, and that the president should not unnecessarily open herself up to attack.”

    For your further reading pleasure:

    Wednesday, August 31, 2016 at 3:33 pm | Permalink
  9. Iron Knee wrote:

    I am extremely unimpressed by that NY Times article. He spends the first half talking about how everyone in Washington does this stuff, and that’s true. Of course people do favors for people they know. Wouldn’t you? So after explaining how this is completely normal in Washington and to be expected, he then turns on a dime and says that Hillary has to be above all that. Yeah right. And he was in charge of ethics for Dubya, who lied us into war and looked away while innocent people were tortured. Sexist Asshat.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2016 at 11:00 pm | Permalink
  10. Richard Tibbs wrote:

    If the foundation was simply another lobbyist, no one would see a problem.

    Monday, September 5, 2016 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

One Trackback/Pingback

  1. No There There? – on Friday, September 2, 2016 at 5:42 am

    […]   From Iron Knee Political Irony: […]