This is part 2 of a five part series taken from my blog at whileweslept.org
Former Indiana Senator Evan Bayh once described the vetting process for high political office as ‘totally invasive… like having a colonoscopy, except they use the Hubble telescope on you.’ And he would certainly know, after being on the shortlist of VP candidates for Al Gore, John Kerry, and Barack Obama. By comparison the vetting process employed by the media and the American public is much less invasive but has the potential to be considerably more deadly. Consider the swift rise and abrupt collapse of Howard Dean’s candidacy back in 2004.
On December 9, 2003 Al Gore endorsed Howard Dean by saying, “I’m very proud and honored to endorse Howard Dean to be the next president of the United States of America..”
Al Gore’s endorsement was highly coveted, and CNN reported that it “could cement Dean’s status as the leading Democratic candidate….“
On January 19 after placing third in the Iowa primary, Dean gave a passionate speech, saying:
“If you had told us one year ago that we were going to come in third in Iowa – well, we’d have given anything for that. And you know something, not only are we going to New Hampshire; we’re going to South Carolina, and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota… and then we’re going to Washington D.C. and we’re going to take back the White House…”
And then it happened: he let out a cackly, off-pitched battle cry. Watching this clip now, more than a decade later, is nothing less than heartbreaking. He is standing there surrounded by flags and supporters in what for him was a pinnacle moment. It’s impossible not to feel sorry for this man who at the time had no idea that he was destroying his bid for the White House. There is no teleprompter. There are no speech notes. There is just Howard Dean – bright-eyed and fully charged with raw emotion. That battle cry, that joyful “hee-ya!” was all anyone needed to convict him, in their own minds, of a rabid lust for power.
That was just over ten years ago. Things have certainly changed. We are less than a year away from both Democrats and Republicans announcing their presidential candidates. Earlier this morning I came across an article about Hillary Clinton’s inevitable nomination that stated, “Unless she is indicted, she will surely win the Democratic nomination.”
Let’s reflect on that for a moment.
Amidst all of the allegations swirling around the Clinton campaign, I wonder if there is anything that could prove to be as damaging as Howard Dean’s Rebel Yell… Certainly Benghazi and the subsequent private server/email findings as well as the gross mishandling of classified material all should have been – not to mention the very real links to Hillary Clinton using the Clinton Foundation as a channel for terrorist nations and regimes to purchase backing from the State Department. Somehow it has all managed to withstand public scrutiny.
For those of us who are old enough to vividly recall the scandalous years of the Clinton White House, this is beyond belief, yet not at all surprising. However, for the 93 million Millennials who will be able to cast a vote in 2016, who were born after ‘Billary’, the seriousness of understanding the Clinton standard of fraudulence cannot be understated. While she herself may regard her own history of ruthless and illicit conduct as “old news”, it is vital that we endeavor to apply the same ‘intrusive and rigorous’ vetting procedures to her just as we would to anyone else seeking the highest office in our land.
Even the most casual meandering through our recent history reveals a very real and disagreeable pattern – travelgate, whitewater, filegate, pardongate and the dozen or so others. These colorless terms certainly benefit the culprits by sounding trivial and easily discarded. I’m sure that most folks, given the opportunity, would prefer to hear about a sex scandal over one involving the White House travel office. However, when held to proper scrutiny, these scandals reveal a consistently contemptuous, underhanded, self-serving, and dangerous political duo that are eerily comparable to Frank and Claire Underwood in House of Cards.
While campaigning for the Presidency in 1992, Bill Clinton remarked that by voting him into the White House, America would be getting ‘two for the price of one’ in reference to the role Hillary would play in his administration. At the time, such an admission was certainly provocative, even exciting to our nation. It had been less than a generation since the integration of the Feminist Movement into our collective principles.
Four months into their Presidency, the first of more than a dozen public scandals, Travelgate, surfaced. Four months after the Clintons took office, they announced that they would be firing all seven of the employees in the White House office that arranges travel for the media and first family. Though it may seem inconsequential to most, this announcement was particularly striking to the media and Washington insiders. These seven employees had faithfully served the administrations of seven Presidents – Republican and Democrat alike – and were well-known, respected civil servants.
After reportedly denying longtime Clinton business acquaintance Harry Thomason access to the White House charter business (worth 31 billion dollars annually), Travel Office Director Billy Dale was promptly locked out of his office while officers removed several boxes of paperwork.
Shortly after being allowed back into his office Mr. Dale was told that he, along with the six others who comprised the travel office team, had been fired for criminal misconduct. Additionally, he was slapped with a lawsuit for allegedly embezzling fourteen thousand dollars because the logs were ‘missing’. Also during this time, out of pure coincidence I’m sure, Mr. Dale received a letter from the IRS informing him that was to be audited, and for the next thirty months he was investigated. His son and daughter were subpoenaed. As the case went to trial in the fall of 1995, a long line of Washington journalists volunteered to serve as character witnesses to Mr. Dale. The jury needed less than two hours to reach a verdict of not-guilty.
Though the final report found that Mrs. Clinton’s sworn statement was ‘factually inaccurate’ and that she had indeed spoken with Harry Thomason on numerous occasions regarding his takeover of the travel office, Billy Dale did not get his job back despite being only a few months away from retirement. Further investigations by the FBI, Department of Justice, and The House Oversight Committee scrutinized Hillary Clinton for playing a central role in this debacle and for making false statements under oath.
The methods administered by Hillary Clinton – the whimsical misuse of law enforcement authority while dragging someone’s reputation and family through the mud in retribution for having been inconvenienced – are contemptible and terrifying.
In that same year, Mrs. Clinton had hired Craig Livingstone for the position of Director of White House Security and given him the highest security clearance despite lacking any sort of high-level security experience – unless you would count working as a bouncer in a D.C. nightclub as sufficient.
While investigating the Travelgate catastrophe, the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight had found that some 900 unauthorized FBI background reports had been pulled by Livingstone at the request of Mrs. Clinton. The FBI files covered White House employees from Republican administrations and then current political adversaries. The Director of the FBI acknowledged this as an “egregious violation of privacy”, as the files contained detailed information about such things as extramarital affairs and personal medical problems. The politics of personal destruction made easy by improperly obtained, private files of political rivals to be used for professional gain.
The House Oversight Committee ordered an investigation on September 24, 1996 to determine if the events surrounding the files were “a blunder, the result of colossal incompetence, or whether they are established to be more serious or even criminal.” During the investigation the FBI learned that Craig Livingstone – the man who had obtained the files at her request – was the son of a friend of Hillary Clinton’s. They had managed to find photographs with Mrs. Clinton and Mrs. Livingstone. Hillary maintains that she doesn’t know her and that she had nothing to do with hiring Mr. Livingstone. Following this debacle, the FBI closed its White House Liaison Office after more than thirty years of service to seven presidents.
Also in July of 1993, Bill Clinton fired FBI Director William Sessions. This was the first time that an FBI Director had been fired by a President. Clinton-appointed Attorney General Janet Reno said that Sessions had exhibited some “serious deficiencies in judgement” by using an FBI plane to visit his daughter on several occasions. Sessions denied that he had acted improperly and refused to give a letter of resignation. On the 19th, Clinton used his powers to dismiss him immediately.
The very next day, Vincent Foster – long-time friend, coworker and confidant of Hillary Clinton and then current Deputy White House Council – was found dead in a federal park in Virginia. He’d been shot in the head. Due to the recent vacancy of FBI Director, the park police were assigned to handle the case. The park police had certainly never dealt with a case of this magnitude and were vastly unqualified. The official position was that Foster, who had recently been prescribed a suspect dosage of trazodone for insomnia and depression, had killed himself.
After searching his briefcase a full three days later, a suicide note did turn up. It had been torn into twenty-eight pieces, of which twenty-seven were recovered. There were no fingerprints to be found. After examining the remaining pieces forensic experts agreed that the ‘note’ was a fake.
A few months later, a White House volunteer intern named Kathleen Willey nervously made claims to other White House staffers that President Bill Clinton had kissed and groped her during a private meeting regarding the possibility of Willey joining the permanent White House staff in the Oval Office. The alleged encounter occurred on November 29. Hours after her meeting with Clinton concluded, her husband Edward Willey committed suicide over a large debt. Another puzzling coincidence, I’m sure. The Clintons again escaped any sort of charges. The final report of the U.S. Office of Independent Council reads – “Willey and President Clinton are the only direct witnesses to their meeting, and their accounts differ substantially on the crucial facts of what occurred”.
These situations all end in a similar fashion: due to a lack of evidence the final verdict comes down to a ‘your word versus mine’ scenario. While digging through this ‘old news’, I often wonder what Mrs. Clinton and our media would have to say about these wrongdoings if they involved, say, a Republican Senator from Texas or a conservative Governor from Florida. Would they even be allowed the opportunity to run any sort of campaign, let alone one for the highest office in the land?
Over the years, time and time again when publically addressing her innocence in any one of these scandals the narrative changes from her involvement in them to how she responds to being asked about them. Instead of realizing and reflecting on the kind of character that emerges from the connecting of these innumerable dots, we instead hear about how she is “unflappable”, that “the real message is her attitude and poise” and that her “confiding tone and relaxed body language immediately draws approving reviews”.
And now, when people in her own party and large segments of the electorate describe her as “a terrible candidate”, “not easy to trust”, and Secret Service members consider it a punishment to be assigned to her detail because she is so foul and mean-spirited, it is crucial to remember that Hillary Clinton is the first First Lady to come under criminal investigation – not once – but several times.
There is a deeply troubling standard that arises even when considering these accounts individually, but when they are assembled into a timeline we are confronted with the fact that when a Clinton is granted a position of influence we really do get “two for the price of one”.