The Honesty of Hillary Clinton

Word Cloud Quinnipiac Aug 2015There is no doubt that Hillary Clinton has a trust deficit with voters. Both her Democratic and Republican opponents have questioned her honesty throughout the primary campaign and the innuendo has stuck. In August 2015 Quinnipiac University as part of their regular political survey asked respondents the first word that came to mind when they thought of each candidate. From the answers they produced word clouds. The most common word for Clinton was “liar.” Other prominent words were untrustworthy, untruthful, deceitful, corrupt, crook, crooked, deceptive, cheat, criminal, thief, sneaky devious, conniving, unethical, phony, dishonest, trash, secretive and even murder and traitor. Other words that made it in there were slimy, bitch, evil, and trouble.

In an ABC/Washington Post poll taken on 3-6 March this year, 59% of respondents answered “No” to the question of whether they considered her honest and trustworthy and only 37% said “Yes.” However, the man who has famously labelled her “Crooked Hillary,” Donald Trump, received an even worse result in the same poll. When asked whether they perceived him as honest and trustworthy, 69% said “No” and 27% said “Yes.”

My contention is that Clinton is no more dishonest than any other politician, and actually more honest than most. The question of her honesty is one that I see as largely manufactured and strongly related to the fact she is a woman. Throughout her life in the public eye, Clinton has been one of the most popular politicians in her country, except when she is running for office. As Sady Doyle describes the situation at the blog Quartz:

Public opinion of Clinton has followed a fixed pattern throughout her career. Her public approval plummets whenever she applies for a new position. Then it soars when she gets the job. The wild difference between the way we talk about Clinton when she campaigns and the way we talk about her when she’s in office can’t be explained as ordinary political mud-slinging. Rather, the predictable swings of public opinion reveal Americans’ continued prejudice against women caught in the act of asking for power.

We beg Clinton to run, and then accuse her of feeling “entitled” to win. Several feminist writers have analyzed the Clinton yo-yo. Melissa McEwan sees a deliberate pattern of humiliation, which involves “building [Clinton] up and pressuring her to take on increasingly prominent public challenges, only to immediately turn on her and unleash breathtaking misogyny against her when she steps up to the plate.”

If you find this hypothesis unlikely, there’s Ann Friedman’s explanation: Clinton makes people uncomfortable by succeeding too visibly. Clinton is trapped in “the catch-22 of female ambition,” Friedman writes: “To succeed, she needs to be liked, but to be liked, she needs to temper her success.”

On 22 June Trump said in a speech, “Hillary Clinton may be the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency of the United States.” Fox News’s Hannity opened his show that day with that statement, changed the picture quality to make Clinton look old and haggard, and said, “Donald Trump exposes Hillary Clinton in a major speech.” And whose reaction did they get to analyse the speech? Eric Trump’s. Don’t ask me what happened next – I’d had enough already and changed channels to CNN. However, the “major speech” by Trump referred to by Sean Hannity was chock full of lies and half-truths, as well as a number of absolutely outrageous statements. (For a full transcript, see here.) I’ll come back to it again below.

Politifact famously fact checks statements by the candidates. Take a look at a comparison between Clinton and Trump they did recently:

Clinton vs Trump honesty

The results are virtually opposite. Politifact found that Clinton was, in fact, the most honest of all the candidates that ran in the 2016 primaries. (And, yes, that’s including Bernie Sanders, though he did pretty well also – see here for the proof.) Almost as bad as Trump was Ted Cruz. (See here for the results of all the GOP candidates.) Further, Politifact‘s analysis found that not only was Trump the least honest candidate that ran in the primaries, he was the least honest politician they had ever analyzed!

During the current campaign one of the things that has been dogging Clinton is the Benghazi terrorist attack. Since before she even announced her candidacy right-wing news outlets have been bringing up the situation daily trying to blacken her name and blame her for the deaths that occurred. Kevin McCarthy was the Republican majority leader and expected to succeed John Boehner as Speaker of the House until he told the truth about the party strategy against Clinton in relation to Benghazi. On Fox News‘s Hannity on 29 September 2015 he said:

Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought.

Nine (yes, nine!) select committees have spent more time investigating Benghazi than was spent investigating Pearl Harbour, the John F Kennedy assassination, Watergate, or the terrorist attacks on 9/11. This latest committee, led by Trey Gowdy (R-South Carolina) finally released its report on 28 June. It completely exonerated both Hillary Clinton and President Obama. Anyone who has watched Fox News over the months the committee has been in process knows they have been desperate for the result to use against Clinton. So what did Gowdy have to say when he failed to deliver the coup mortel (death blow)? That no-one ever “asked me to do anything about presidential politics.” He went on to say, “My job is to report facts. You can draw whatever conclusions you want to draw.”

The report, like the previous ones, blames a military and intelligence failure for the USian deaths. This is exactly what I have been saying since the start – that despite what many USians believe, including many active military in the region, they are not actually capable of being everywhere, anytime. Military leaders couldn’t order personnel to intervene in the situation because they didn’t know enough about what was going on, they weren’t close enough to get there in time, it would mean putting even more USians at risk of their lives, and the political situation was too delicate.

Further, you may remember that when the attack first occurred, the US denied that some of the operatives were actually even officially connected to them. The report states that if the military leaders had acted more quickly in the first place, they may have been able to help. However, they could never have prevented the deaths of the two people murdered in the initial attack – Ambassador Stevens and Information Officer Sean Smith. The other two who were killed, former Navy Seals Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, were both part of the initially disavowed unit. And, though I’m reluctant to mention it because it sounds like blaming ambassador Stevens for his own death, there are major questions over why he travelled to Benghazi in the first place.

The report also clears up the myths that have peddled by Republicans:

1. Darryl Issa (R-Califonia) lied when he stated Clinton issued a stand down order. According to the Washington Post:

Issa famously claimed that Clinton had personally issued a “stand down” order in which a CIA operative allegedly told his troops not to rush to the rescue of those in danger. That narrative repeatedly has been proven to lack any evidence, including by the Washington Post’s Fact Checker, which awarded the claim “Four Pinocchios.”

2. In the speech by Donald Trump referred to above, he said:

Among the victims [of Clinton’s time as Secretary of State] is our late Ambassador, Chris Stevens. He was left helpless to die as Hillary Clinton soundly slept in her bed — that’s right, when the phone rang at 3 o’clock in the morning, she was sleeping.

This is also a lie – the attack began in the afternoon US time and both Clinton and Obama were fully engaged in following the situation at the White House. Obama gave the approval to assist – it was the military who decided not to go ahead with that because of the situation on the ground.

3. It’s been frequently said that Clinton and Obama watched live video of Americans being killed and did nothing. This is a lie – there was no live video available. There was some access to real-time information, but it was limited.

4. Despite claims to the contrary, neither Clinton not Obama was directly involved in any denial of extra security for Libya and had no personal knowledge of any requests for extra security.

It should also be noted that in October 2015, former USAF reserves Major (reserves is NZ equivalent of territorials) Bradley Podliska sued both Gowdy and the committee after being fired from his position as committee investigator. He said he was dismissed because he refused to focus his investigation on Clinton. After negotiations in which the committee tried to dismiss the suit, Podliska eventually changed his suit three months ago by removing mention of Clinton.

As reported in the Washington Post:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which released its own report in 2014, charged that the Benghazi committee’s report was “blatantly political,” “squandered $7 million of taxpayer funds” and “diverted significant Defense Department, State Department and intelligence community resources.”

“And what do we have to show for it?” Feinstein continued. “Yet another report that finds no wrongdoing by Secretary Clinton.”

On the day when the final Benghazi report came out though, Clinton scored an own goal. As Secretary of State she strongly supported the TPP, then back-tracked during the Democratic primary. That move, assuredly focus-group tested, helped her keep votes that Bernie Sanders might have taken from her, but it was never a stance she could honestly maintain. She obviously, unlike Trump but like the majority of both major parties, accepts the benefits of free trade and globalization. She was always going to have to go back to that position, if only to attract disaffected Republican voters. So instead of the focus being on her win in the Benghazi matter, Trump was able to label her a liar (again in the speech referred to above), and if it wasn’t for the tragic events at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, the subject would have dominated the US headlines for days.

However, while this was a calculated political move, I’m not sure it paints her as any more or less honest than any other politician. They all do things like this, and Trump does them on a daily basis. What’s more important is what is best for the country both Trump and Clinton are applying for the job of running. Free trade is better for both the US and the world, and almost all economists and a majority of voters agree with that position according to the polls.

USA Free Trade 1992-2016

The Benghazi report was issued in the middle of the Brexit aftermath. The economy is one of the few areas that the US public (who largely don’t understand the difference between macroeconomics, microeconomics, and economic policy) judge Trump more qualified than Clinton to handle, and Brexit should have been an opportunity for him to both shine and take control of the narrative. However, all he did was expose his own self-interest by positively reveling in the plunging British pound because it would increase his personal wealth. While the middle-class had billions wiped from their retirement savings he thought only of himself. As Elizabeth Warren said:

Donald Trump cheered on Britain’s crisis which has sucked billions of dollars out of your retirement accounts, because he said hey, it might bring more rich people to his new golf course.

Trump Clinton starTrump is still trying to do it. July 3rd saw this tweet, which caused huge controversy as the “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” award star is shaped like the Jewish Star of David. Many called it a dog whistle to the white supremacists who are strongly supporting Trump and he has been slow to disavow. Whether or not that’s true, two hours later it was deleted and replaced with a version with the words in a red circle, which you can see here.

As an aside, the misogyny of the electorate at large was also directed at Elizabeth Warren when she was campaigning for her Massachusetts seat. Sady Doyle again:

This issue is not specific to Clinton. As Slate writer Jamelle Bouie has pointed out on Twitter, even progressive demigod Elizabeth Warren was seen as “unlikable” when she ran for the Massachusetts senate seat. Local outlets published op-eds about how women were being “turned off” by Warren’s “know-it-all style”—a framing that’s indistinguishable from 2016 Clinton coverage. “I’m asking her to be more authentic,” a Democratic analyst for Boston radio station WBUR said of Warren. “I want her to just sound like a human being, not read the script that makes her sound like some angry, hectoring school marm.”

Once Warren made it to the Senate, she was lionized—right down to a Clinton-esque moment in which supporters begged her to run for President. Yet seeing Warren engaged in the actual act of running seems to freak people out.

Back in December 2012, well known pollster Nate Silver analyzed more than 500 high quality polls of Clinton’s popularity, beginning in 1992. What they showed was that she was remarkably popular, except when she was running for office. As Doyle points out:

Campaigning is not succeeding. It’s asking for success, and for power. To campaign is to publicly claim that you are better than the others (usually white men) who want the same job, and that a whole lot of people should work to place you in a more powerful position. In other words, campaigning is a transgressive act for women.

Women often find self-promotion difficult even outside the realm of politics. For example, a 2011 study found that men are four times more likely to ask for raises than their female co-workers. Women are much more likely than men to under-estimate their abilities. When they apply for jobs, they often refuse to even submit a resume unless they’re certain they have 100% of the requisite qualifications. (The qualification threshold for men is only 60%. Think about that the next time you wonder why on Earth Donald Trump thinks he should be president–or, for that matter, when Bernie Sanders insists that his lack of foreign policy experience compared to Clinton’s doesn’t matter, because he has better “judgment.”)

Now that Clinton has been cleared from wrongdoing in the Benghazi terrorist attack, there is still the FBI investigation into her use of a private server for her e-mail while secretary of state. She has finally been interviewed regarding this and the the case is expected to be finalized soon. The spectacularly stupid action of Bill Clinton in meeting with attorney general Loretta Lynch in private recently has cast a shadow over this, and has provided fodder for more Republican conspiracy theories, but it seems that Clinton is likely to be cleared of deliberate misconduct.

Clinton’s actions are often compared to those of former General David Petraeus in the right-wing media with the conclusion that what she did was much worse that what he did. However, Michael Arnovitz offers this analysis:

Compare for example the treatment Hillary is getting due to her private email “scandal” to that of General David Petraeus. Hillary has been accused of hosting a personal email server that “might” have made classified documents less secure, even though the documents in question were not classified as secret at the time she received and/or sent them. (Side note: some government documents receive secret classifications “at birth”, while other can be retroactively classified as secret.) In order for Clinton to have committed a criminal act, she would have had to knowingly and willfully mishandle material that was classified at the time she did so. After months of investigation no one has accused her of doing that, and it doesn’t appear as if anyone will.

General Petraeus on the other hand, while he was Director of the CIA, knowingly gave a writer, who was also his mistress, a series of black books which according to the Justice Department contained, “classified information regarding the identities of covert officers, war strategy, intelligence capabilities and mechanisms, diplomatic discussions quotes and deliberative discussions from high level National Security Council meetings and [Petraeus’] discussions with the president of the United States of America.” Petraeus followed that up by lying to numerous government officials, including FBI agents, about what he had done. And lets not forget that according to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, adultery is itself a court-martial offense. And I remind you that none of this is in dispute. Petraeus admitted to all of it.

Petraeus’ violations were significantly more egregious than anything Clinton is even remotely accused of. And yet Republicans and other Hillary foes are howling about her issue, wearing “Hillary for Prison 2016” t-shirts while insisting that this disqualifies her from public office. Meanwhile even after pleading guilty to his crimes Petraeus continued to be the recipient of fawning sentiments from conservatives. Senator John McCain stated that, “All of us in life make mistakes and the situation now, I hope, can be put behind him …” Politico quoted a former military officer who worked with Petraeus as calling the entire situation “silly”. Prominent Republicans have already made it clear that they would call him back to work in the highest levels of government if they win the Presidency. And some are still attempting to convince him to seek the Presidency himself.

Why is Hillary Clinton being held to such an obviously different standard than Petraeus? Is it really only politics?

Clinton is also being slammed for not releasing the text of speeches she made to Wall Street firms for large fees. Bernie Sanders declares he made no paid speeches. Well, I should hope not – it would be illegal for him as a senator to do so! And Trump is in no position to criticize – unlike him, Clinton has released her tax returns back many years along with her health records.

Although it might be interesting to read them, I don’t see any reason why Clinton should release her speeches. It was her job to make those speeches – it’s not really any different than anyone else releasing their trade secrets. And though she received huge amounts of money for making those speeches, apparently the figures aren’t actually unusual on the speaking circuit. Michael Arnovitz again:

[T]he truth is that there is a large, well-established and extremely lucrative industry for speaking and appearance fees. And within that industry many celebrities, sports stars, business leaders and former politicians get paid very well. At her most popular for example, Paris Hilton was being paid as much as $750,000 just to make an appearance. Kylie Jenner was once paid over $100,000 to go to her own birthday party, and to this day Vanilla Ice gets $15,000 simply to show up with his hat turned sideways.

And let’s talk about the more cerebral cousin of the appearance agreement, which is the speaking engagement. Is $200k really that unusual? In fact “All American Speakers”, the agency that represents Clinton, currently represents 135 people whose MINIMUM speaking fee is $200,000. Some of the luminaries that get paid this much include: Guy Fieri, Ang Lee, Cara Delevingne, Chelsea Handler, Elon Musk, Mehmet Oz, Michael Phelps, Nate Berkus, and “Larry the Cable Guy”. And no that last one is not a joke. And if you drop the speaking fee to $100k, the number of people they represent jumps to over 500. At $50,000 the number jumps to over 1,200. And All American Speakers are obviously not the only agency that represents speakers. So there are in fact thousands of people getting paid this kind of money to give a speech. …

Hillary didn’t invent the speaking engagement industry, and she isn’t anywhere near the first person to make a lot of money from it. And while her fees are in the upper range of what speakers make, neither they nor the total amount of money she has made are unusual. It’s just unusual FOR A WOMAN.

And yes, I’m back on that, because I feel compelled to point out that before he ran for President in 2007, Rudy Giuliani was making about $700,000 a month in speaking fees with an average of $270k per speech. It’s estimated that in the 5 years before his run he earned as much as $40 million in speaking fees. Nobody cared, no accusations of impropriety were made, and there was almost no media interest. So why did Giuliani get a pass, while Hillary stands accused of inherent corruption for making less money doing the same thing?

And speaking of corruption, after leaving the Florida governor’s office Jeb Bush made millions of dollars in paid speeches. This includes large sums he collected from a South Korean metals company that reaped over a BILLION dollars in contracts from his brother’s presidential administration. Speaking to an Indian newspaper about this type of thing Bush said, “This is the life of being the brother of the president.” Do you remember reading all about that while Jeb was running for President? I didn’t think so. Jeb got a pass too.

So if this discussion is really about money in politics that’s fine. But I’m going to need someone to explain to me why we only seem to focus on it when the person making the money has a vagina.

Arnovitz goes on to point out that despite what is being said by her opponents, the majority of Clinton’s fees aren’t coming from Wall Street. She apparently gave almost one hundred paid speeches, only eight of which were to Wall Street banks. Also, only one of those eight made it into the top twenty in terms of how much she was paid. And while she is getting criticized for making speeches of US$225,000, Trump is getting US$1.5 million and no one is complaining about that. In addition, Trump made millions via so-called Trump University which the New York attorney general called a “straight-up fraud,” it looks like he may have bribed attorneys general in other states not to prosecute him over Trump University, and he gets to label Clinton “Crooked Hillary?”

There’s a lot to agree with in Arnovitz’s piece, so I’m going to use his words to conclude.

Get used to saying it - Yes Ma'am, Madame President - the world of hillary clinton


What the actual fuck is going on here? What’s going on is what we all know, but mostly don’t want to admit: presidential campaigns favor men, and the men who campaign in them are rewarded for those traits perceived as being “manly” — physical size, charisma, forceful personality, assertiveness, boldness and volume. Women who evince those same traits however are usually punished rather than rewarded, and a lot of the negativity aimed at Hillary over the years, especially when she is seeking office, has been due to these underlying biases. There is simply no question that Hillary has for years been on the business end of an unrelenting double standard. And her battle with societal sexism isn’t going to stop because of her success anymore than Obama’s battle with racism stopped once he was elected. These are generational issues, and we are who we are. …

Hillary is nobody’s idea of perfect. Fine. But in my view if a man with her qualifications were running in the Democratic primary, Bernie would have been done before he even started. And if a man with her qualifications had been running for the Republicans, they’d be anointing him the next Reagan while trying to sneak his face onto Mount Rushmore. …

Yes she will disappoint us all on occasion. Who doesn’t? But I think she’s also going to surprise a lot of people. She will fear neither consensus when possible nor ass-kicking when necessary. She will safeguard us from the damage a right-wing Supreme Court would inflict on the nation. She will stand for the rights of women, LGBT Americans, and minorities. She will maintain critical global relationships, and she will react to dangerous situations with the temperament of a seasoned and experienced professional. And in a nation that didn’t even allow women to vote until 1920, she will make history by shattering the very highest glass ceiling, and in doing so forever change the way a generation of young women view their place in our Republic.

She’s going to be a fine President.

Update 1: From CNN – ‘FBI director: Hillary Clinton ‘extremely careless’ but no charges recommended

Update 2: I was prepared to give Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt that the anti-Clinton Star of David tweet was carelessness and not anti-Semitism – until I read this: ‘Donald Trump’s “Star of David” Hillary Clinton Meme Was Created by White Supremacists‘.

Thanks to Merilee for the Arnovitz article.


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99 Responses to “The Honesty of Hillary Clinton”

  1. Diane G. says:

    Thank you so much for this–excellent job!

    Recently the NYT mag had an article about Petraeus’s paramour revealing just how much she suffered and still suffers from the liaison’s backlash. One excerpt:

    She lost her military security clearance; her promotion from major to lieutenant colonel was revoked when the news broke. The F.B.I. still has her computers — including her dissertation research — and she withdrew from her Ph.D. program. She said she was told in more than one job interview that, while she was qualified, hiring her would be a public-relations nightmare.

    This is all so depressing.

  2. j.a.m. says:

    The Clintons are the sleaziest duo in the annals of sleaze. The fact they may be slightly less nuts than Obama and the rising extremist wing of their party is cold comfort.

  3. Doug Hastie says:

    I think Hillary will be a great President. While I don’t really trust her, my level of trust for her would be the same as for other US politicians…and a long way ahead of Trump. I hope people learned something from BREXIT where promoters such as Boris Johnston and Nigel Farage showed their true colours after being elected.

    • Yeah – people think they will be able to control Trump after they elect him. They’re dreaming. The triumph of hope over reality, or however the saying goes. And I agree with you on Johnston and Farage too – every day they give me more fodder for a follow up post on my last one. The Farage resignation was the icing on the cake!

  4. Ann German says:

    I really appreciate your analysis. I have been saying for months that all of the criticism of her is simply misogynism.

    • Ken says:

      While I think it is obvious that Clinton faces extreme misogyny as Heather has duly documented, claiming all criticism of her is nothing more than that is ridiculous. My distaste for Hillary is no different than that for Bill. Both are triangulating fake progressives who sold out long ago. Gender just doesn’t come into it for me.

      • Ken – your opposition to Clinton, while I don’t agree with it, I do accept has nothing to do with misogyny, even of the unconscious variety. That’s not something I would accuse you of personally. (I do, of course, stand by what I wrote though.)

        • Ken says:

          Thanks, Heather, I know you don’t think that.

          This misogyny is doubly insidious, because it is not only grossly unfair to Clinton, but can make it impossible to hold her to account for anything too, as there are plenty of people who will use the existence of misogyny to deflect legitimate criticism. Everyone loses.

  5. paxton marshall says:

    FBI director just said no indictment. It’s good to get that out of the way now.

    You make a very strong case Heather. I’m still concerned about Hillary’s militarism. She has called her vote for the Iraq invasion a “mistake”, but I wish she would denounce the whole disaster as Trump did in his debate with Jeb. I guess it’s too much to expect her to call it what it was: terrorism.

    Her mistake in Libya was not in the defense of the Ben Ghazi consulate, but in getting involved in the intervention in the first place. It is as if she failed to learn the lesson of Iraq, that “regime change” just replaces one problem with another, possibly worse problem.

    And there is no indication she will take a more balanced view on Israel-Palestine, and show compassion for the plight of the Palestinians.

    As Bernie has pointed out, she is too cozy with wall street and the military-industrialists. Still she does seem to recognize that inequality has gone too far, and may try to make some moves to redress that.

    It’s not like we have a choice, is it?

    • As Tony Blair pointed out, in any given country in trouble in the Middle East whether the US gets involved, or doesn’t get involved, or gets involved exactly to the level of international recommendations, the situation is a mess. If they’re not involved, the situation is still their fault according to many commentators. I’m not sure they can win. I think all they can probably do is what they think is right. Of course, whose judgment they rely on as to who is right is always problematic, and even the best administration is going to have to deal with errors made by their predecessors and actions taken by other countries. The root cause of a lot of the problems is Saudi money from the discovery of oil funding the spread of Wahhabism.

      As for Clinton being too cozy with Wall Street – is there ever a politician who hasn’t been? In reality, they need to be whether they like it or not. And the reality is that Bernie would not have been able to enact many of his ideas in relation to Wall Street – even a Dem majority on both Congress and the Senate would defeat many of his proposals. He would have to decide which were the most important, and negotiate from there, and he would have been more likely to choose something like free college tuition.

      And while she might not improve the Israel/Palestine situation, at least she won’t make things worse. Who knows what Trump would do, but I can see him giving Netanyahu a licence to bomb Palestine because of Hamas and Hezbollah – gotta bomb those terrorists!

      • paxton marshall says:

        No argument, Heather, except citing Tony Blair as having any credibility on the middle east. He is just making excuses for his criminal actions. I don’t care what any commentators say, and I know many neo cons were agitating for invading Iraq, just as they are agitating now for greater involvement in Syria. There was absolutely no justification for the Iraq invasion and Blair and Bush are responsible for murdering hundreds of thousands of people, for the rise of DAESH, and for the chaos that has driven millions of refugees from their homes and countries. Those two self-righteous Christians should be on their knees every day begging forgiveness for their crimes, not to their god, who doesn’t exist, but to the millions of people whose lives they have ruined. The great pity is that the crimes of Bush/Blair, and I might add those of GHW Bush, whose first Gulf war set the stage for the whole mess, are ignored by most western commentators, who are cluelessly looking to Islam to understand why Radical Muslims have struck back at us. They should pull their heads out of their rear ends and see what their own countries, and in some cases own religion, has done to innocent Muslims. Do any of them consider that we have left thousands of widows, orphans, and others who have lost family and friends, who just might have a reason to seek revenge?

        Did you see there is a new biography of Bush, by Jean Edward Smith, which basically confirms what I have just said? Review:

        • Well apart from the fact it would be wrong for me to take credit for an idea I first heard from Blair, he has acknowledged (unlike Bush) that he was wrong to have invaded. And just because he got stuff wrong, doesn’t mean he has no credibility. He’s made an effort since leaving office to try to repair the damage done by the Iraq invasion. I’m not trying to excuse him, just saying he does seem to have an awareness of where he went wrong and feel bad about it. That, of course, doesn’t bring back all the lives lost, but no-one can do that. At least he’s doing what he can moving forward.

          I haven’t see the book. I’ll check it out.

          • Paxton marshall says:

            When one has committed the biggest crimes since the Hutu massacre of Tutsis, and the biggest the US has committed since Vietnam, one’s credibility might well be questioned. If he confesses to the extent of the harm he has done, and the influences that led him to commit these crimes. Was it Bush? Was it the petro industry? Was it the military industrial segment? Was it the financial sector? Was it Netanyahu and Israeli interests? Was it a sense of “mission” to bring civilization to the heathen? Inquiring minds want to know. (All the same questions and more apply to both Bushes as well).

            I don’t know Blair well, but I get the sense that he’s a spin doctor and were not likely to get truth out of him. But his statement you cite is nonsense. The outcome may still be bad if we don’t intervene militarily in other countries, but better they are killing each other than we are killing them. Why can’t everyone admit that our invasions, regime changes, and military interventions have been disastrous? And to understand why, we have to name names and point fingers. Obfuscations and denial of responsibility will teach us nothing.

          • Paxton, this post is about Hillary Clinton. I know it’s my fault for indulging you, but let’s just stick to the topic shall we?

      • Mark Sturtevant says:

        This is why I bequeath a degree of admiration for Obama, where he has opted for limited u.s. involvement in Syria. If we went in deeper, chances are we would find a way to make it worse.

        • Yes. Another thing I get angry about is the criticism of the number of bombing raids, and in particular the comparison with the number during the Iraq war. I admire Obama for making the effort to identify targets and trying to ensure only combatants are killed. The hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians killed during the Iraq war is a big part of what caused the current situation.

        • Paxton marshall says:

          Yes, I agree. There are no good choices there that we can influence militarily.

  6. kia says:

    sorry, i’m old enough to remember when the clintons elevated from arkansas to the white house and national politics. haven’t changed my opinions of either of them.
    i won’t be voting for her or the ‘trump monster’ that the RNC has decided to make peace with as their candidate. i don’t think either hillary or trump are qualified or fit to be running let alone elected to the office.
    but that won’t stop the system from giving us one of them, probably hillary, god help us all.

    • I didn’t mention the Whitewater stuff because it was so long ago, but the Arnovitz article does go into it. It seems the myth of a dishonest Hillary stems from an article written at that time – the claims of which were all later shown to be false.

    • Jeff Lewis says:

      Just curious – do you really think they’re both equally bad and would have equally bad consequences for the country if they were elected? If not, why would you abstain from voting for the one you thought would be least bad? Otherwise, if the worse option is elected, you can’t say you did anything to stop it.

      (Or are you like me and live in a state where your vote makes no difference, anyway, because the electorate is so far in one direction that a Trump/Clinton vote is guaranteed?)

  7. Seeing Trump supporters wax indignant about Hillary’s alleged dishonesty is beyond bizarre.

    • That’s what bugs me the most. This, “Trump tells it like it is” meme. It’s complete bull-crap. He tells the most outrageous lies, sprinkled with huge doses of ignorance plus bigotry of every type imaginable.

      You can tell the markets don’t believe Trump will be president because they are holding up. If it ever looked like he might make it, they would fall faster than they did post-Brexit.

      • Plingar says:

        The problem with this is that the markets and the pollsters didn’t believe Brexit either. I am not saying that I back DT.

  8. Scott Draper says:

    The claim that Hillary’s up and down popularity can’t be explained by typical election mudslinging is mere assertion, and the claim that it’s really due to sexism is equally without evidence.

    We have other powerful women in government…do their popularities rise and soar with the election cycle, more so than with men? This is the first obvious way to test the hypothesis.

    • Yes, they do, which is why I pointed out the case of Elizabeth Warren. Her popularity figures show the same pattern as Clinton’s. She is very popular except when she is actually seeking office.

      And it’s not mere assertion. Nate Silver analyzed over 500 quality polls over twenty years in coming to his conclusion.

  9. Randall Schenck says:

    Wow, name and email already there. I could not find fault with anything said but may have added a couple of more. Because Hilary has been front and center in the dirty world of politics for so long, you become a slow moving target. Also, when the enemy or other side (entire republican party) with all their hacks, is only doing one thing, attacking the target, you get a few hits. What has to be remembered and said more frequently is this — If that party, which includes the fox network has nothing but complaints and attacks, what good are they. They have no program, they have no policies and really, they have no party. They are just a bunch of empty suits.

    • As you may remember I watch fox News quite a lot, and the amount of time they spend attacking Hillary Clinton drives me nuts. In recent days with all the major terrorist attacks plus Brexit and people dying in floods in the US, they’re all but ignoring those topics in comparison to the time they spend attacking her.

      • Randall Schenck says:

        Know exactly how you feel. Just remember, the republicans are losers and the party of no. Their days are numbered.

  10. Mary Sheumaker says:

    I really appreciated this post. Well said, Heather Hastie!

  11. I’ve added a couple of updates to this post:

    Update 1: From CNN – ‘FBI director: Hillary Clinton ‘extremely careless’ but no charges recommended‘.

    Update 2: I was prepared to give Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt that the anti-Clinton Star of David tweet was carelessness and not anti-Semitism – until I read this: ‘Donald Trump’s “Star of David” Hillary Clinton Meme Was Created by White Supremacists‘.

      • Good article – check it out everybody if you have the time!

        • Ken says:

          I’ve read that article and the FBI Director’s comments and they do not agree. The article says there is not even a technical violation of the law, while the FBI Director says there was, but that it doesn’t reach the bar for prosecution based on past prosecutions. He essentially says that Clinton was guilty, but didn’t have bad intent, which the law says isn’t required for guilt, so shouldn’t be prosecuted, as that has been the standard set previously. I’m ok with that, but the implication in the article that this was all a beat up that never should have even required an investigation seems like reverse spin.

        • j.a.m. says:

          Comey vs. Clinton:

          It’s great that she dodged criminal prosecution yet again, but the naked undisputed facts alone disqualify her as commander in chief on the grounds of gross negligence and inexcusable judgment. THIS IS AN OPINION.

          • Ken says:

            Yet you’ve said you’ll vote for someone with even worse judgement.

          • j.a.m. says:

            Actually, I am on record pledging my write-in vote for Heather Hastie. While her platform is 100% wrong, and she falls well short of the constitutionally mandated minimum age, nonetheless she’s honest and hard-working, plus she’s always a day ahead.

            We know the Democrats will nominate someone with abysmal judgment, whether it be Clinton, Sanders, or some other joker. We don’t know for sure yet who will be the Republican nominee.

            But if the only realistic choice comes down to an oaf or a conniver, then I’ll take the oaf. And if an oaf is the only thing standing in the way of four more years of miserable and lawless leftist tyranny, then I say, long live the oaf.

          • Incidentally, I’m old enough to be president – i’m just over two years younger than Obama. I’m disqualified because I was born in New Zealand and have lived here all my life, and I have nothing in my CV that would qualify me for office. Being an atheist wouldn’t help in your country either! 🙂

          • Ken says:

            Have to love the rationalisation of a true partisan, aye. Don’t care how bad a candidate is, so long as they wear the right colour tie.

          • j.a.m. says:

            Don’t care how bad a candidate is, when the alternative is vastly worse. Perfectly rational judgment, given the circumstances.

          • Ken says:

            And with partisan rationalisation of course comes lashings of hyperbole.

  12. Debbie Coplan says:

    Thank you Heather!
    This post is so well said. I’m very suspicious of so much of the hate directed at Hilary Clinton.
    It seems really out of proportion to what she has accomplished. I can only see it as—
    what is seen as a good quality for a man, is not becoming on a woman.
    Thank you for this very clear and well documented post.
    I so appreciate your spelling it out so clearly.

    • Thanks so much Debbie. I think when people complain about her voice and tone and hair and clothes and all the things that men rarely, if ever, get criticized for, it makes its own statement.

      If Donald Trump was criticized as much as she was, can you see him standing strong in the face of it as she does? No, he’d be throwing another tantrum and finding another target to bully, abuse, or both.

  13. Mark R. says:

    Great stuff Heather (as usual) :). Like many of the other comments have pointed out, is she really less trustworthy than other politicians? I might trust her less than Obama, but not enough to be freaked out by her. I think Bill is being an idiot and I think he should fade into the background and let Obama be Hillary’s “Presidential” spokesperson. His speech today in North Carolina was fantastic. With his popularity fairly high and growing, he’ll be able to give her a boost imo.

    And to quote Paxton Marshall above: “It’s not like we have a choice, is it?”

    • Thanks Mark. 🙂

      To those liberals who are still finding it hard to support Hillary I say, “Vote for the Supreme Court you want.” Whatever you think of her, you know that the future of the country will be in much better hands with her picking the next two or three justices than Donald Trump.

      • Mark R. says:

        YES YES and YES!! and !

      • j.a.m. says:

        Clinton, like Obama, will further degrade the bench, sabotage self-government, and usurp the rule of law by naming more partisan ideological hacks. Say what you will about Trump, but he could scarcely be worse.

        • In your opinion. You know it would make quite a difference to how we reacted to your comments if you just put three letters at the end – imo.

          However, I think regular readers will remember that you were sure your party would never make Trump their candidate because of his unsuitability. Are you now going to turn into another Sean Hannity or Eric Bolling in a combination of excusing everything he says and gazing at him through rose-tinted spectacles?

          • j.a.m. says:

            Indeed, it is an opinion. I apologize if I misunderstood, but I thought that was the idea, to share our opinions?

            Trump hasn’t been nominated yet, and we’ll see what happens. My vote won’t count so I intend to write in Heather Hastie. That said, never forgetting the alternative I will be happy and proud to call the Donald my commander in chief.

          • Ha ha! You’ll have to send me a picture of that! I’ll just get a fake birth certificate to enable to to run – apparently that has been done before … 😀

          • I’m only saying that because you’re on a site where most of us disagree with you, and we have a discussion about what people say, it would be better if you didn’t make aggressive statements as facts rather than opinions.

        • j.a.m. says:

          The independence of the judiciary is, or was, one of our great republic’s hard-won glories. The despicable way it has been corrupted by radical leftist ideologues is to our everlasting shame.

          • Mark R. says:

            Your hyperbole is beyond shameful. Are you so unable to separate “radical leftist ideologues” from democratic ideals? Get a grip. How embarrassing for you…I know…you’re proud of your dumbnnnn. Trump surely loves you.

  14. Sdm says:

    I have long stated that anyone that would vote for this vile hag is either dumb as a box of rocks, or has just as corrupt a soul as she does.

    • Mark R. says:

      Vile hag? Wow! Souls don’t exist so can’t be corrupt, so that argument doesn’t stand. So you’ll vote for Trump as the opposite? The perfect soul loving man for jesus? I suspect you won’t vote for either. I guess I can respect that.

    • And besides what Mark said, this is a site for debate, not insult. If you can’t manage that please take your comments elsewhere.

    • Diane G. says:

      “I have long stated that anyone that would vote for this vile hag is either dumb as a box of rocks, or has just as corrupt a soul as she does.”

      Well, good for you. Why should the rest of us give a damn about your ignorant, sexist, evidence-free opinion?

  15. W.Benson says:

    The Washington Post has just upgraded Hillary from two pinocchios to 4 pinocchios for her e-mail statements based on James Comey’s FBI report. Her only qualification for being president seems to be that she was Bill Clinton’s wife.

    • It seems you’re infected by the misogynist bug. Clinton is a lawyer, a former senator, a former secretary of state, and co-runs an international charity foundation among other things. You’ll have to come up with better arguments.

      Trump, otoh, is facing a fraud charge related to Trump (so-called) University and who knows what’s going on with his taxes. He’s demanding to see the tax returns of his potential VPs, but no one gets to see his. What’s he trying to hide? The fact that he contributes nothing to the country’s military, infrastructure, schools, health etc. perhaps? He’s openly stated he tried to pay as little tax as possible.

      • j.a.m. says:

        Unlike, say, Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman, Secretary Rice, Gov Nikki Haley, Gov Susana Martinez, Gov Mary Fallin, Gov Jan Brewer, Gov Sarah Palin, Sen Kelly Ayotte, Sen Jodi Ernst, Sen Deb Fischer, Sen Susan Collins, etc. etc., it’s hard to argue that nepotism is not a major reason Clinton is where she is. You certainly can’t argue that New York would have elected a carpet-bagging corporate lawyer from Arkansas, with no New York ties, to the Senate (the only elective office she’s held). Nor would she be a plausible nominee for Secretary of State.

        On the other hand, without Hillary, Bill Clinton would still be pumping gas and chasing tail somewhere deep in the Ozarks. It’s a match made somewhere other than heaven.

        • j.a.m. says:

          The preceding is an opinion.

          • There’s no need for this snarkiness. As you know from long experience here, I simply expect people to conduct themselves respectfully towards one another and I say something when I think things have gone too far. Therefore, an excessively aggressive comment got you pulled up. You’re far from being the only one, as you also know.

    • Diane G. says:

      “Her only qualification for being president seems to be that she was Bill Clinton’s wife.”

      I love it when sexists out themselves right off the bat. Now we know we needn’t listen to any further input from you about Hillary.

  16. Richard C says:

    This page can’t be easily read on a phone, because there’s a large “share” banner blocking the left side of the screen and the first word of every line. It’s there on top of the content on my tablet too, but at least isn’t covering the whole left edge.

  17. Richard C says:

    The kinds of attacks being made against Hillary Clinton have been piled on every major Democratic candidate since Bill Clinton. John Kerry is a decorated Vietnam War veteran, and got swiftboated with Republican conspiracy theories claiming he lied and made up his heroism and subsequent injuries. The Extreme Left bought into the anti-Al Gore conspiracies, which helped push enough liberals to Nader in 2000 to get Bush elected. (And I still hear from people who insist the guy who published An Inconvenient Truth is secretly in the pocket of Big Oil.)

    The main differences is at more people seem to buy it with Hillary Clinton, we now have two major candidates willing to make these conspiracy theories a direct part of their campaigns (Trump and to a lesser extent Sanders), and the media’s giving the mud a lot more air time. I think her gender does probably play a big part in that.

    • Ken says:

      Blaming Nader for Gore’s loss is typical of a Democratic Party that doesn’t want to take responsibility for its own deficiencies, nor accept that it has to earn people’s votes. Gore ran a terrible campaign. I don’t know why people ignore that more registered Dems voted for Bush in Florida than voted for Nader. As it is, he won despite this (and despite losing his own home state and so many other factors that contributed), but then failed to challenge the declared result, leaving it to a partisan supreme court to choose Bush. Nader is just a scapegoat.

      • nicky says:

        I think that Nader can be more justifiably blamed (no conspiracy though, that is ridiculous) for the ‘win’ of ‘baby Bush’ in 2000 than Perot for the loss of ‘papa Bush’ in 1992. Nader was certainly not the only factor, but without him running ‘baby Bush’ would almost certainly have lost.
        Ideally, we should have another Perot running in 2016 :).
        Note, if one has a directly elected head of state (which is more or less -more less than more in fact- the case in the USA), there should be a run-off election if none if the candidates gets >50% in the first round, IMMO.
        Thank you Heather for bringing a reasonable voice against this really over-the-top Hillary hate.

        • Ken says:

          I’ve seen analysis that says Nader took votes about evenly from both sides, but even if that’s not true and his running did make enough difference, that doesn’t amount to blame, at least not until blame is first doled out to Gore for each of the dozen reasons he lost that were in his control to change.

          • Paxton marshall says:

            Gore didn’t lose. The Supremes overturned the will of the people and anointed Bush. We all know where that led. See the Chilcot report.

          • j.a.m. says:

            Gore lost the Florida vote, and thus the election, under the rules in effect at the time votes were cast.

            And even if one wishes to comfort oneself with the myth that infinite random recounts would have changed that result, the failure to achieve a clear-cut victory is still on Gore, not Nader.

          • nicky says:

            No not evenly, the estimates are that 25% of his voters would have voted Bush and 38% Gore, a 12% difference. With over 92000 Nader votes in Florida that would have been more than enough to overcome the notorious 537 votes in that state.
            As said, I agree there were several other factors, not in the least the partizan Scalia SCOTUS.

        • Thanks Nicky.

          Could you argue we have a Nader/Perot by default this year? Both the Libertarian and Green candidates are getting at least 15% between them when they’re included in polls.

          I find it really interesting that CNN mentions Gary Johnson a lot (the Libertarian), who’s on around 10%. Fox never mentions him but does mention the Greens candidate – she gets about 5%. I wonder if they don’t want right-wing voters to know they have an alternative to Trump to vote for?

          • j.a.m. says:

            A bit of good news: Stein is offering to step aside for Bernie — a move that would be hard for the media to ignore and would give Trump a comfortable margin.


          • If Bernie thinks the Democratic establishment us plotting against him at the moment, he’d find out what that’s really like if he took over the Greens ticket. Hopefully, he’s not arrogant enough to believe that he could actually win the presidency by doing this, though he has at times shown a bit of a tendency to believe that his rallies are electoral reality (like Trump does). If he did accept the offer, it’s the one thing that might secure a Trump win.

  18. Ken says:

    I don’t know why, Heather, but you seem always to talk of free trade deals as though there’s no wrong way to write one. You sight that most people support free trade as though that should translate into support for any trade treaty. Having worked on the left for decades I personally don’t know anyone who is against the concept of free trade; globalisation is an idea of the left as much as anyone, after all. It is the nature of the globalisation that is the issue and trade deals that serve only to further the narrow interests of corporations are just not good enough. The TPPA is a great example of how bad it can get, by sacrificing the sovereign right to regulate in the interests of citizens on the alter of corporate profit.

    Anyway, I’ve assumed like most that Clinton was lying when she reversed her position on the TPPA, particularly as her platform delegates are struggling to keep an anti-TPPA plank out of the platform. I was also very surprised that Warren was being considered for VP given she is closer to Sanders than to Clinton on most things include the TPPA. People are speculating what she may have had to promise to support to be considered, but it appears the TPPA is not on the list, as this came out just a few days ago.

    • With TPP I feel like I’m being buffeted by information from both sides that I can’t trust. I like Elizabeth Warren but I also feel like some of what she said in the video is alarmist. On balance, I thought the XL Pipeline was a good thing, and though I would never come out publicly sticking up for the oil industry, I’d be really pissed off about how long it took for that decision to be made. Waiting for it must have cost them billions. Also I’ve heard of at least one huge Dem donor, Tom Steyer, who said that he wouldn’t donate anymore if the pipeline went ahead.

      At the same time, it can’t be true that there’s nothing to worry about because, as Warren said in the video, of the position taken with tobacco companies.

      Then there’s the evidence of experience. Every time NZ has signed an FTA, and there have been a lot by both sides since 1999, there have been people saying they’re going to be a disaster and won’t deliver the promised benefits. In reality we’ve had none of the promised disasters and the benefits have been much greater than were promised. We do have good negotiators, and both Labour and National have done a good job for NZ. We are more vulnerable in TPP because we’re a small player in a big group and have little control, but I’m just not cynical enough to believe that the negotiators of other countries would all want to screw their own people. I don’t believe ours would.

      • Ken says:

        Their goal doesn’t have to be to screw their own people, just to actively benefit their funders. From their it’s easy to rationalise that what’s best for corporate capitalism is best for everyone. And when something does go wrong and the govt has to pay out big, they just borrow a bit more to do it and/or cut a few more services, just like the Nats current $1b per year borrowing for tax cuts. That’s how you transfer social welfare to corporate welfare. As some point the belief they don’t mean to screw their own people becomes a bit difficult to maintain.

        • j.a.m. says:

          Free enterprise IS best for everyone — everyone, at least, besides politicians, bureaucrats, aspiring social engineers and cave-dwelling Luddites.

          • Ken says:

            No one is talking down free enterprise. Like most other things, it can be corrupted so it benefits only some people while others continually suffer.

            And everything we do is social engineering. People who pretend what they advocate is somehow the natural order of things are either lying or too stupid to know any better.

    • Ken says:

      “And we’re going to say no to attacks on working families and no to bad trade deals and unfair trade practices, including the Trans- Pacific Partnership.”

      That’s Clinton from just this week. She could be continuing to lie to suck in Sanders supporters, but perhaps this isn’t over yet.

  19. Ken says:

    I doubt any confirmation that Clinton maintains “both a public and a private position” on issues is enough to derail her this close to the election given Trump’s gory extended implosion, but so much for her honesty.

    • That particular statement has a back story that I’ve even heard Bush’s former press secretary describe as “probably the truth.” I’m too busy trying to write about the debate at the moment, and it came up there, so I may include it. If not, remind me. I haven’r read the link so I don’t know if the explanation is there.

    • Diane G. says:

      So, politician is politician and handlers are handlers. Yawn.

      Does anyone really think that most politicians don’t have public vs. private positions?

      • Ken says:

        As a matter of fact, having worked in politics, I know several. It’s bad enough that there are so many incentives to lie without us plebs sending the signal that it’s expected, don’t you think?

        • I don’t know that it’s about lying. It’s more about getting what’s possible done. Also we all talk differently in different environments. (Though not, of course, to the extent of Trump!) I think it depends on the subject to a certain extent too.

          There are obviously some who are really duplicitous, but at the same time you can have a dream about the kind of world you’d like to see but know that isn’t possible in the current environment.

          • Ken says:

            Presenting the same ideas in different ways to different audiences is not only ok, it is an absolute requirement to building support for your ideas. I’m not talking about that at all. It’s saying mutually exclusive things to different groups that’s the problem. We have good reason so be worried about this with Hillary, particularly when she won’t say what she’s been telling Wall St audiences.

          • I agree it’s a concern if that happens (and your own experience means I’m sure you’ve come across a lot of it) but I’m not convinced yet that there’s good evidence for this on Hillary’s part. If she’s going to put more regulations on Wall Street, she should consult them. However, that doesn’t mean she has to do what they say. It would be stupid to just create a set of regulations without even talking to the industry and then just impose them. Whatever the situation, they should feel like they at least got the opportunity to have their say.

          • Ken says:

            Again, no argument, but it’s not what they say to her that matters here, but what she says to them and whether that is very different to what she says to us. We may not get a smoking gun, but we’ll know if she starts going back on promises, starting very soon with the TPP.

        • Diane G. says:

          Was going to reply to you, Ken, but Heather’s already covered the subject well and I have nothing more to add.

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