Atlanta, GA – During the ongoing investigations of Hillary Clinton, being done by everyone from congress to the FBI, and about everything in her past from emails to her actions during Benghazi, Mrs. Clinton has taken to calling the investigations a “witch hunt.” She says it derogatorily, like those involved should blush and be ashamed of themselves. But she’s actually right, these investigations are witch hunts.
And she’s the witch.
In the midst of all the scandals surrounding Mrs. Clinton, it still seems at this point that she is unlikely to de indicted or prosecuted on any charge, and of course, one is innocent until proven guilty, even if one is a Clinton. However, there is a high court which no mortal can overrule; that of public opinion.
All the lack of evidence in the world cannot destroy the fact that to those on the outside looking in, Mrs. Clinton’s entire operation looks tainted. Her hidden connections with Blumenthal, her apparent disregard for rules in the handling of classified information, her equivocating and misleading statements to the public about her emails, her receipt of money from foreign governments, many of whom were and remain massive human rights violators. All of this looks to ordinary idiots like it just might be a bit shady.
But while Mrs. Clinton may have some technical jargon to help her get out of every predicament she has ever placed herself in, her final argument at the end generally becomes “well I was never convicted!” That’s true, but Al Capone was also never convicted of the Valentine’s Day Massacre, and anyone on the street would say “I saw the movie, he did it.”
The truth is that Mrs. Clinton has been a public figure who has a hard time staying away from the appearance of wrong doing, someone who looked to be playing with cards under the table, so to speak, for more than two decades.
Stretching back to Watergate, there has been a history of such things, such as when records that were important to the case went missing, and then suddenly turned up, in one of Mrs. Clinton’s aide’s offices. Mrs. Clinton claimed that the room was cluttered, (which was true) and the papers simply had been missed. (Some, including a Secret Service Agent claimed they were stolen from Foster’s office on the night of his suicide.)
Maybe what Mrs. Clinton said was true, but there was also the apparent hush money some friends of the Clintons, the billionaire Indonesian Riady family, played to another player in the 1990s, Clinton scandals. The Clintons claimed their relationship with the Riadys was purely social, even though there is a four-page, single-spaced letter from the patriarch of that family, Mochtar Riady, to President Bill Clinton, urging upon him certain actions on foreign policy. Maybe the fact that the Riadys may have paid hush money to someone who could have damaged the Clintons, and was then urging the president to normalize relations with Vietnam was coincidence, but it sounds much more like graft, nepotism, and corruption than innocence.
After each allegation is made, Mrs. Clinton generally comes up with a quite innocent sounding response, and maybe she is telling the truth each time. But when it happens again and again, it becomes harder and harder for the average person to believe her.
Hundreds of years ago, if little children got sick, if the crops were bad, or if lightning struck the church and burned it to the ground, the locals assumed that there was, somewhere in the dark woods, cackling over a pot full of bat ears and snake heads, a witch who was petting a black cat and holding an oversized broom. Maybe they were right. I doubt it, but you never know.
The important thing was that the woman was seen muttering strange things on the night of the storm. She was probably just senile, but it looked bad. And that was all the public needed. Did all of them really believe she was a witch? Of course not. Maybe some just didn’t like her. But she was projecting an image, and as everyone knows, perception is more important than reality.
These days, when documents that could do damage to someone go missing, and then suddenly appear right in their very house, when hush money appears to be paid, when an entire email server is wiped, when an American ambassador dies and no one, including the Secretary of State, helps him, and when money is received from foreign governments by the very person who is supposed to deal with those foreign governments in the interest of the United States, we might be led to assume that somewhere at the back of all this is someone who, if not quite a criminal, does not go to sleep at night with a conscience as clean as Mother Teresa’s.
Mrs. Clinton didn’t kill Vince Foster; she doesn’t ride a broom, although if you listen enough to Republican talk radio you might start to think she does. There was probably nothing she could have done to save the Americans at Benghazi, but she sure could have handled the situation better. And the fact that she keeps getting caught muttering things on the night of the storm looks bad.
She’s no witch, but she’s no genius at handling the public perceptions and the media, either. If anything she is so bad at it that it might show she is more inept than corrupt. But in the end, a politician lives or dies in the court of public opinion, and that court can still sentence people public burning at the stake. Mrs. Clinton will never face jail time for any of the things she has done. But even if she is, as she probably will be, exonerated on every charge in every scandal, it probably won’t be enough. Children will still hurry past her door for fear of being turned into toads and donors and voters will turn to other, less frightening options, if they can find them, or they might just do nothing at all this cycle.
And that will be the story of the witch from Arkansas; a woman who might well have been innocent, but just didn’t know how to make it look that way.
Andrew C. Abbott