Wall Street Journal: Peggy Noonan- Stuck in Scandal Land

For years I have had mixed feelings about Peggy Noonan, I still have not forgiven her for her support of Barack Obama in 2008. In her latest Wall Street Journal column “Stuck in Scandal Land,” she does a superb job exploring how  “as long as she is in public life, Hillary will protect and serve herself:”

Doesn’t the latest Hillary Clinton scandal make you want to throw up your hands and say: Do we really have to do this again? Do we have to go back there? People assume she is our next president. We are defining political deviancy down.

The scandal this week is that we have belatedly found out, more than two years after she left the office of secretary of state, that throughout Mrs. Clinton’s four-year tenure she did not conduct official business through the State Department email system. She had her own private email addresses and her own private Internet domain, on her own private server at one of her own private homes, in Chappaqua, N.Y. Which means she had, and has, complete control of the emails. If a journalist filed a Freedom of Information Act request asking to see emails of the secretary of state, the State Department had nothing to show. If Congress asked to see them, State could say there was nothing to see. (Two months ago, on the request of State, Mrs. Clinton turned over a reported 55,000 pages of her emails. She and her private aides apparently got to pick which ones.)

Is it too much to imagine that Mrs. Clinton wanted to conceal the record of her communications as America’s top diplomat because she might have been doing a great deal of interesting work in those emails, not only with respect to immediate and unfolding international events but with respect to those who would like to make a positive impression on the American secretary of state by making contributions to the Clinton Foundation, which not only funds many noble causes but is the seat of operations of Clinton Inc. and its numerous offices, operatives, hangers-on and campaign-in-waiting?

What a low and embarrassing question. It is prompted by last week’s scandal—that the Clinton Foundation accepted foreign contributions during Mrs. Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. It is uncomfortable to ask such questions, but that’s the thing with the Clintons, they always make you go there.

The mainstream press is all over the story now that it has blown. It’s odd that it took so long. Everyone at State, the White House, and the rest of the government who received an email from the secretary of state would have seen where it was coming from—a nongovernmental address. You’d think someone would have noticed.

With the exception of the moment Wednesday when a hardy reporter from TMZ actually went to an airport and shouted a query at Mrs. Clinton—it was just like the old days of journalism, with a stakeout and shouted queries—Mrs. Clinton hasn’t been subjected to any questions from the press. She’s slide, she’ll glide, she’ll skate. (With TMZ she just walked on, smiling.)

Why would she ignore regulations to opt out of the State email system? We probably see the answer in a video clip posted this week on Buzzfeed. Mrs. Clinton, chatting with a supporter at a fundraiser for her 2000 Senate campaign, said: “As much as I’ve been investigated and all of that, you know, why would I . . . ever want to do email?”

But when you’re secretary of state you have to. So she did it her way, with complete control. It will make it harder, if not impossible, for investigators.

The press is painting all this as a story about how Mrs. Clinton, in her love for secrecy and control, has given ammunition to her enemies. But that’s not the story. The story is that this is what she does, and always has. The rules apply to others, not her. She’s special, entitled, exempt from the rules—the rules under which, as the Federalist reports, the State Department in 2012 forced the resignation of a U.S. ambassador, “in part for setting up an unsanctioned private e-mail system.”

Why doesn’t the legacy press swarm her on this? Because she is political royalty. They are used to seeing her as a regal, queenly figure. They’ve been habituated to understand that Mrs. Clinton is not to be harried, not to be subjected to gotcha questions or impertinent grilling. She is a Democrat, a star, not some grubby Republican governor from nowhere. And they don’t want to be muscled by her spokesmen. The wildly belligerent Philippe Reines sends reporters insulting, demeaning emails if they get out of line. He did it again this week. It is effective in two ways. One is that it diverts attention from his boss, makes Mr. Reines the story, and in the process makes her look comparatively sane. The other is that reporters don’t want a hissing match with someone who implies he will damage them. They can’t afford to be frozen out. She’s probably the next president: Their careers depend on access.

But how will such smash-mouth tactics play the next four, five years?

Back to the questions at the top of the column.

Sixteen years ago, when she was first running for the Senate, I wrote a book called “The Case Against Hillary Clinton.” I waded through it all—cattle futures, Travelgate, the lost Rose law firm records, women slimed as bimbos, foreign campaign cash, the stealth and secrecy that marked the creation of the health-care plan, Monica, the vast right-wing conspiracy. As I researched I remembered why, four years into the Clinton administration, the New York Times columnist William Safire called Hillary “a congenital liar . . . compelled to mislead, and to ensnare her subordinates and friends in a web of deceit.”

Do we have to go through all that again?

In 1992 the Clintons were new and golden. Now, so many years later, their reputation for rule breaking and corruption is so deep, so assumed, that it really has become old news. And old news isn’t news.

An aspect of the story goes beyond criticism of Mrs. Clinton and gets to criticism of us. A generation or two ago, a person so encrusted in a reputation for scandal would not be considered a possible presidential contender. She would be ineligible. Now she is inevitable.

What happened? Why is her party so in her thrall?

She’s famous? The run itself makes you famous. America didn’t know who Jack Kennedy was in 1959; in 1961 he was king of the world. The same for Obama in ’08.

Money? Sure she’s the superblitz shock-and-awe queen of fundraising, but pretty much any Democrat in a 50/50 country would be able to raise what needs to be raised.

She’s a woman? There are other women in the Democratic Party.

She’s inevitable? She was inevitable in 2008. Then, suddenly, she was evitable.

Her talent is for survival. This on its own terms is admirable and takes grit. But others have grit. As for leadership, she has a sharp tactical sense but no vision, no overall strategic sense of where we are and where we must go.

What is freezing the Democrats is her mystique. But mystique can be broken. A nobody called Obama broke hers in 2008.

Do we really have to return to Scandal Land? It’s what she brings wherever she goes. And it’s not going to stop.

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6 Responses to Wall Street Journal: Peggy Noonan- Stuck in Scandal Land

  1. Makes me cringe at the thought of being dragged back to the 90’s, when a different Clinton scandal was rolled-out almost weekly.

    • Bret Rickert says:

      Every so often I allow myself a foolish belief. I believe this will be her downfall. It may not take her out directly, but it’s going to give her a primary opponent and this women cannot win a campaign. First, the more Hillary is seen and heard the less she is liked. Second, I don’t think she is well enough for a protracted campaign run. If you noticed her last few public outings, she is always sitting. I don’t think she can stand for long periods of time. I could go on, but in the end she’s a Clinton and. just like a grade “B” horror movie, I know she may very well resurrect and get us in the end.

      • Patrick Moynihan says:

        Patrick Moynihan

        Called Trey Gowdy’s office yesterday. Asked aid to pass along a message – It is VITAL that Representative Gowdy expose the truth about Americans murdered at Bengazi. It boggles my mind to think that a government employee (Secretary of State) has the ability to keep the facts about what really happened in the dark. Enough is Enough !!!

  2. I’ve read many books on the sordid lives of the Clinton’s and in my estimation i consider them to be PROFESSIONAL CON ARTISTS/GRIFTERS who do exactly what they want and when in trouble they DENY, LIE, BLAME OTHERS, DESTROY EVIDENCE, LAUGH IT OFF AND BLISSFULLY WALK AWAY AND YOU PEOPLE DEAL WITH IT. HILLARY’S ARROGANCE AND POMPOUS, SMUG DEMEANOR IS NAUSEATING.She has a maniacal ego and her exhibitions of indignant pride and righteous superiority are sickening to watch.

    I had a feeling after hearing FBI Director James Comey speak about Hillary’s emails and private server investigation and the thought entered my mind that it seemed like the FBI agents spent a lot of time trying to find a way “NOT TO INDICT HILLARY” .He certainly laid out ALL that she did wrong and I think he wants the American People to come to the conclusion that she is sooo guilty and therefore deny her the Presidency, He didn’t want to be the one that took her out of the race and with such a long detailed litany of all her wrong doings, I believe he is leaving that decision up to us the American People to find her guilty and not vote for her. My thoughts. 7/9/16

  3. Patrick Moynihan says:

    When FBI decision was made public I felt sick. Shortly after I came to realize that James Comey is a sage. FBI has established that Hillary Clinton is a pathological liar. They despise her. She is a serious DANGER to the country. Hoping enough voters of all persuasion will smell the coffee.

  4. A sage is someone with experience who exhibits calm judgement and wisdom and that certainly described Mr. Comey;s demeanor. I really think he is leaving it up to “US”, the American people to deny her the Presidency. I believe if she is elected she will ruin our world. ” Crisis of Character” is a fairly new book by a former Secret Service Officer who was stationed outside the Oval Office and saw many many things. He stated that he felt our White House in the Clinton Adm. was run like a brothel and it seemed like a part time job for he Clinton’s who spent most of their time having fun and partying. And in another book a lot of those parties were fund raisers. The corruption never ends with these Clinton’s. Uninformed people must get informed to know the real truth of these Clinton’s and Hillary will ruin our world if elected as President. 7/10/16

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