There were two bombshell developments last week in the presidential campaign. Democratic nominee Donald Trump apologized when footage surfaced of his extremely crude remarks about women made during a conversation he had with a reporter eleven years ago. In addition, yet another set of e-mails involving Hillary Clinton surfaced. This batch, from the account of her campaign chairman, includes excerpts from her speeches to various business firms (transcripts of which she still refuses to release). The excerpts show that she has differing public and private positions on key campaign issues as free trade and open borders. Both events are enormously revealing.
The Trump Tape: By any measure Mr. Trump’s comments were really vile, even though some prominent Trump supporters like Rudy Giuliani insisted Trump had merely been engaging in locker room banter and braggadocio. Indeed, Trump himself promptly apologized and denied any unseemly conduct beyond the words themselves.
Understandably, the Clinton campaign has been making much of those words, claiming the comments reveal an animus toward women that render him singularly unsuited for the job of president of the United States.
While we, too, cringed at his remarks, we nevertheless find the Clinton position to be somewhat curious.
From the early days of Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign in 1992 (and other times thereafter during his presidency) various women came forward with allegations that he’d acted improperly toward them. Mrs. Clinton was widely reported to have played a leading role in efforts to discredit the women, starting with Gennifer Flowers, who on 1992 released tapes of phone calls that indicated a long-running affair between her and then-governor Bill Clinton.
According to The New York Times, Mrs. Clinton
embraced the Clinton campaign’s aggressive strategy of counterattack: Women who claimed to have had sexual encounters with Mr. Clinton would become targets of digging and discrediting – tactics that women’s rights advocates frequently denounce.The campaign hired a private investigator with a bare-knuckles reputation who embarked on a mission, as he put it in a memo, to impugn Ms. Flowers’s “character and veracity until she is destroyed beyond all recognition.”
In a pattern that would later be repeated with other women, the investigator’s staff scoured Arkansas and beyond, collecting disparaging accounts from ex-boyfriends, employers and others who claimed to know Ms. Flowers, accounts the campaign then disseminated to the news media.
By the time Mr. Clinton finally admitted to “sexual relations” with Ms. Flowers, years later, Clinton aides had used stories collected by the private investigator to brand her as a “bimbo” and a “pathological liar.”
Perhaps most famously, Mrs. Clinton, soon after the Monica Lewinsky story broke in January 1998, claimed during an interview on the “Today” show that a “vast right-wing conspiracy” was behind the allegations against her husband and then ominously threatened the accusers:
This is – the great story here for anybody willing to find it and write about it and explain it is this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since he announced for president. A few journalists have kind of caught on to it and explained it. But it has not yet been fully revealed to the American public. And actually, you know, in a bizarre sort of way, this [the Lewinsky allegations] may do it….
I think we’re going to find some other things. And I think that when all of this is put into context, and we really look at the people involved here, look at their motivations and look at their backgrounds. Look at their past behavior, some folks are going to have a lot to answer for.
Of course the Lewinsky allegations and a couple of the others made against Bill Clinton would in time become much more than allegations. Yet Mrs. Clinton has yet to apologize for her efforts to demonize her husband’s accusers well before any efforts were made to determine the truth.
Perhaps she felt the allegations of misconduct, even if true, were irrelevant to her husband’s service as president. But the claims against Donald Trump for making vulgar remarks about women in 2005 pale in comparison to what we know about Bill Clinton’s conduct toward women over a period of many years. So it seems incongruous, to say the least, for Mrs. Clinton to dwell on those Trump comments.
More Clinton E-mails: Mrs. Clinton has steadfastly rebuffed all requests that she release the transcripts of the paid speeches she delivered between leaving the State Department and embarking on her presidential run. Now WikiLeaks has dumped hundreds of e-mails from the account of her campaign chairman, John Podesta, which contained excerpts from those speeches. And it’s clear why Ms. Clinton would not want the general public to hear what she said in those speeches.
Essentially, she took positions in the course of those non-public events that are more favorable to free trade and to banks than the positions she taken publicly. She also explained that this approach was standard procedure for her.
Thus, in a speech to (mostly) bankers paid for by the Brazilian bank Banco Itau on May 16, 2013, she said, “My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders, some time in the future with energy that is green and sustainable as we can get it, powering growth and opportunity for every person in the hemisphere.” These sentiments are decidedly at odds with her campaign statements.
And in speech to the National Multi-Housing Council on April 23, 2013, Mrs. Clinton said:
You just have to sort of figure out how to – getting back to that word “balance” –how to balance the public and private efforts that are necessary to be successful, politically, and that’s not just a comment about today…. It is unsavory, and it always has been that way, but we usually end up where we need to be. But if everybody’s watching, you know, all of the back room discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least. So you need both a public and a private position.
Is it any wonder that Mrs. Clinton is seen as duplicitous by large numbers of her fellow citizens?Editorial Board