Hillary Clinton today is mostly the product of the Whitewater Scandal of the 90s.
Whitewater was a real estate project in Arkansas run by banker and developer, Jim McDougal. Hillary and Bill, who were looking to supplement Bill’s modest salary as Arkansas Attorney General, in 1978 became passive investors in McDougal’s Whitewater project. When the project went broke, as extremely high interest rates caused many real estate projects at the time to do, McDougal appropriated some $203,000 from his bank, Madison Guaranty, to cover the losses—an obvious misappropriation of S&L funds and a federal crime.
McDougal was indicted on 18 fraud-related counts and Hillary, an associate attorney at the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, Arkansas, defended him.
In 1992, a New York Times article made what was otherwise a bad deal in the backwoods of Marion County, Arkansas go national. In 1994, a three-judge panel appointed Kenneth Starr to investigate any wrongdoing by the Clintons in the Whitewater project. Starr, at the time a member and hero of the Church of Christ (disclosure: I grew up in the CoC), basically came to Little Rock and — under the guise of investigating the Whitewater affair — made a living Hell of anyone who had ever supported the Clintons in any meaningful way. People who had never done anything wrong incurred tens of thousands—sometimes hundreds of thousands—of dollars in legal fees defending themselves against the Wrath of Starr. People were threatened with prosecution if they failed to produce incriminating testimony against the Clintons.
Virtually all refused.
And as a result of Starr’s six-year $70 million investigation, the American taxpayer got their prize: articles of impeachment against Bill for lying in a deposition about having an affair with Monica Lewinsky (because if you can trace the link between an ill-advised blow job and a real estate-related bank misappropriation, you’re far smarter than me). All that and nothing—literally nothing—about the Whitewater transaction. The Whitewater investigation, which in my opinion is one of the most shameful chapters in American history, damaged the Clintons, damaged Arkansas, and damaged the public consciousness.
Most people felt Starr went too far. In fact, Bill arose from the scandal with his highest approval ratings of his whole presidency. In a sense, Bill escaped fine.
Hillary did not.
The Clintons have never handled scrutiny into their private lives very well, and Hillary worse than Bill. But Hillary’s reluctance to open up to the public and especially the media is understandable. If a cutthroat legal team investigated every detail of your life and your friends’ lives for six years, you would end up this way too.
Hillary has always liked control.
Hillary—post Whitewater, post Benghazi—is an unmitigated control freak.
I believe the Clintons’ public service is admirable; the public schools of Arkansas today are far better than they were in the 70s thanks in large part to Hillary’s work. Bill is the only president to balance the Federal budget since that other Democrat named John F. Kennedy, and he reformed the welfare system in ways that Democrats had for too long denied needed to be done.
Also, at this point, it appears that Hillary’s conduct with her private email server did not break any laws.
But there’s something perhaps more important than that: Hillary herself is broken. To heal the divisions in our country, the American people need someone in whom they can trust. But Hillary is not—and I believe irretrievably cannot be—that someone. Whitewater erected in Hillary a series of defenses that have reached the point of irreversible instinct, and her opponents will always use those defensive instincts—along with a media that only reacts to her defensive instincts with increasing excitement, and a public that is incapable of placing complicated and salacious-sounding accusations in context—against her.
The current email controversy illustrates this perfectly. There has yet to be found in her email any attempt to harm U.S. national interests, and I’m confident such a thing will never be found in her emails or elsewhere. Yet, Hillary’s jaded view of her opponents and the media has put her in a place where she has convinced herself that the risk she created to national security by using a private email server was negligible. First of all, and let me be the first to say it, that is bad judgment. Second, that kind of conduct will always divide the country.
I started out this campaign season in the Hillary camp, but the Clintons’ time has passed. Interestingly, as of this date, Clinton continues to maintain at least a narrow lead over every Republican presidential contender.
But Joe Biden has a bigger lead.