Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Criminalization of Hillary Clinton

You can't look anywhere these days without seeing memes calling Hillary a criminal and that she should be "locked up," the most popular refrain at the Republican National Convention.  Despite being cleared of all charges by the FBI, half of Americans still consider her e-mail scandal a major problem.  Donald Trump continues to exploit the scandal on the campaign trail to the point of flippantly suggesting Russia find Clinton's "missing e-mails."  For the record, the FBI recovered the deleted e-mails, poured over them for months and found no national security breach.  The worst Director James Comey could accuse her of was being "extremely careless," in using private servers.

Most Americans have accepted Donald's characterization of her as "Crooked Hillary."  Berniecrats are still upset over the leaked DNC e-mails that prove the party favored her over their man.  As a result, they don't trust her, believing that she set up Debbie Wasserman-Schultz as head of the DNC for this expressed purpose.  Of course, Hillary would have had to be very prescient back in 2011 to have done this.

The oddest thing about all this contempt for Hillary is that a year go she was riding high.  She led all her potential Republican challengers by no less than 13 points (Jeb Bush) and as much as 25 points (Donald Trump).  Many thought not only her nomination but general election victory was a done deal.  Since then we have seen the e-mail scandal, which broke earlier in March, snowball into an avalanche despite there being nothing to these charges that are continuously leveled against her.

The news media, which feeds off conflict, couldn't resist the story, embellishing it over time to make it look like Hillary was using her private server as some kind of covert channel to funnel state secrets to others.  All told, the FBI could only find 113 e-mails that contained "classified" information, out of tens of thousands of e-mails.  The government classification process is very broad,  classifying most information coming out of the state department whether it has the potential to damage national security or not.  Comey didn't get into the exact nature of the classified information, which obviously wasn't enough to warrant major concern, otherwise he would have been much harsher with Hillary Clinton.

Still, the media can't let it go.  The various news channels continue to give air space to those who insist on questioning her judgement, when it is Trump's judgement that we should be more concerned with.  This is a guy who recently egged Russia into hacking American servers to find the so-called "missing e-mails" that in his mind still float around somewhere in cyberspace.  This is far more treasonous than anything Hillary ever did, yet we are now supposed to think Donald was just being "sarcastic."

There is still three months left until the general election and it is safe to assume the e-mail scandal will fade, but it is doubtful Hillary will regain Americans' trust.   It doesn't matter that Americans were sold a phony line of reasoning by the media, which they don't trust very much either.  The public is convinced that Hillary has a nasty habit of covering her tracks and that this scandal is just part of a broader pattern that stretches back to her days as First Lady in the White House, which Trump plans to exploit as well.

It doesn't help that she and her husband, Bill, serve as the role models for the highly popular House of Cards, which builds its narrative on conspiracy theories surrounding them.  What is worse, many persons consider Hillary the "enabler" of the Monica Lewinsky scandal by allowing her husband to engage in such sordid activities.  During Bill's tenure, many thought Hillary was a lesbian.  At one point there was speculation of an affair between her and Markie Post, the popular Night Court actress at the time.  Maybe even a threesome with Bill?  These were the kind of juicy stories that filled the tabloid sheets and no doubt fed the imagination of television scriptwriters.

Trump spokespersons continually press the point that it is what Americans "feel" that counts, not cold hard facts. Trump has built his campaign largely around false presumptions, confident that the public will believe him over the media when journalists try to fact check his allegations.  If the misleading story gets too much unwanted attention, Donald tosses it away as a joke, safely assuming that most persons will dismiss it as such.  The problem is that the stories stick anyway, as they all feed into the pervading mistrust of Hillary.

Whether you like Hillary or not, she is neither the liar nor the crook she is being presented as.  Like any person who has been in politics this long, she has occasionally blurred the ethical line, but she has committed no crimes.  Despite being left hung out to dry by her husband numerous times, she has persevered and become stronger, to the point she is the one clearly in charge and that Bill serves her interests, not the other way around.

Nevertheless, there will be those who continue to doubt her sincerity.  There isn't much she can do about it as these persons have made up their minds.  But, what she can do is shift the focus onto Donald Trump, by exposing a far more tarnished record as a businessman, which he believes is the only qualification he needs to be President.  As in any television drama, it is time to turn the tables.

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