The False Premise of Integrity

  Aside from whatever other problems the Trump campaign may have, the premise that the American voters will reject Hillary Clinton because of her corruption rests on a questionable premise. While the two candidates are equally disrespected, it is far worse to be a crass bully than a self-serving liar. There are several reasons for that dour conclusion.

1. The public expects politicians to be corrupt in one way or another.  Dick Nixon had his Bebe Rebozo, and, after Watergate, left office declaring “I am not a crook”. Lyndon Johnson had his Billie Sol Estes and retired as a millionaire after entering politics as an advocate for dirt-poor rural Texans. John Kennedy was the son of a bootlegger and spent much of his short career as president chasing women around the White House. Bill Clinton …. well. Like Reagan, the Bushes were a dull aberration – nothing for personal gain; no notable friends who got fabulously rich through the White House connection; no sexual peccadilloes.  It is an easy argument that Hillary is more corrupt than any of her recent predecessors, but it is a matter of degree.

2. People have come to expect the president to make knowingly false claims in the face of compelling conflicting evidence. The Obama veil was pierced with the “you can keep your doctor” claim, followed by the Benghazi video story, and the claim that an unmarked plane landing at night  in Tehran with $400 million in foreign currency did not deliver ransom for four Americans who were simultaneously released during the nuclear negotiations. The job of White House Press Secretary comes with a requirement of being able to tell a lie that everybody knows is a lie without cracking a smile or displaying any pangs of conscience. The public’s reaction? Obama’s approval ratings are over 50% despite 65% of the public thinking the country is on the “wrong track“.  .

3. The shock factor is wearing off.  Judicial Watch’s recent disclosure of State Department e-mails showing long time close Hillary aide Huma Abedin arranging meetings between senior State Department policy officials and major donors to the Clinton Foundation is not a surprise. That Abedin received a policy waiver to work concurrently for Secretary of State Clinton, the Clinton Foundation, and a billionaire Foundation donor is, as Hillary is wont to say, “old news”.  Now we find, thanks to WikiLeaks, that Hillary’s State Department was following the recommendations of major donor George Soros  to intervene in Albanian unrest. While the e-mail scandal has endless chapters, each one has less impact.

4. Much of the media has decided that it is better to dwell on the most recent Trump absurdity than to explore the implications of a corrupt Hillary as president. Some of that is fair – Obama was able to divert billions of appropriations to supporters through companies like Solyndra because he had Nancy Pelosi in control of the House; Paul Ryan will likely have the House at least through 2020, so at least money would not be directly appropriated for Hillary’s friends.  That said, the donation spigot will be wide open with the Clinton Foundation. (Bill and Chelsea are still managing the machine, although he has opined that he might consider stepping back if Hillary is elected.)

5. Democrats who might be offended by the corruption are so appalled by the alternative of Trump that they adopt a “ends justifies the means” approach – perhaps unconsciously.

Those hoping for an “October surprise” are likely to be disappointed. What might it be – the texts of Hillary’s $250,000 speeches and promises to Goldman Sachs?  Cancelled checks with memo’s from contributors/international “businessmen”/advisors Sidney Blumenthal or Gilbert Chagoury?  Conclusive proof that Julian Assange is right  and the Clinton campaign killed the Democratic National Committee employee who gave the DNC e-mails to WikiLeaks?  It’s all old news anyway, and the product of the vast right wing conspiracy.

Perhaps there is a “what’s difference does it make to me?” filter as voters ponder corruption. If it is lies to promote policy goals that liberals support (the predominant Obama offense), liberals can rationalize that “all politicians do it.”  On the other hand, if it is selling access to government decisions (the predominant Clinton offense), the average person understands that the rich and well connected have the power and the general public is disenfranchised. This looks about the same whether you are a supporter of Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, or Black Lives Matter. And there-in lies the damage to the Republic.


This week’s video, provided by an alert reader in San Francisco,  is from a 1995 speech to Congress on the scourge of illegal immigration by President Bill Clinton in which he sounds very much like Donald Trump. – 8/12/2016




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