I have to say that I’m getting tired of people telling me to keep mum about Hillary and Bill’s “scandals” during election season. Well, I barely post about Bill’s issues, for Hillary is the candidate; and I see her as far from an ideal candidate. But I’ve been constant in my asseveration that I’ll vote for her, for the alternative—a racist, unthinking, xenophobic, misogynistic, and out-of-control President Donald Trump (I don’t use those adjectives lightly)—is unthinkable. I don’t whale on Trump simply because everybody else does, and because his sins are so clear and palpable.
Yet still I’m told either that Hillary Clinton is pure and untouchable, without a whiff of scandal to her name, or that I should simply shut up about the rumors of scandal and appearances of conflict of interest (note that I’ve never said she’s been convicted of anything, just that she puts herself in problematic situations that could have been avoided). I’m told to keep quiet about her “forgetfulness” about her emails, about her lies about having been under “sniper fire” in Bosnia, about her huge personal emoluments from giving speeches to Wall Street, and so on.
“They all do it,” say my liberal friends—though Obama didn’t. “They never pinned anything on her,” they say, ignoring the fact that Clinton’s behavior both with respect to her Foundation and her emails and her speeches led to the appearance of conflicts, and we’re supposed to avoid this. And since when is the probity of a candidate supposed to be judged by whether she was indicted or not? After all, even the director of the FBI gave her a stern rebuke, saying that Hillary and her team were “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.” I guess we’re supposed to ignore that; after all, she is Saint Hillary.
When I echoed somebody else’s post on Facebook about how Hillary went silent the last two weeks while courting big donors, I got special pushback. Here are a few comments from “friends”
- “I hope, for your sake and the sake of your country, that the money she is raising will help elect her and a Democratic senate majority. Like you say, suck it up and ponder the alternative.”
- When a FB friend said “We’ve got to suck it up”, referring to Hillary’s behavior, I responded, “As I said, we’re not allowed to criticize her if we’re Democrats. Sorry, but I’m not sucking it up. I’ll hold my nose and vote for St Hillary, but not happily.” I then was the victim of a finger-wagging, corrective comment:
“Seems counter-productive at this point.”
- And then I got this comment: “What puzzles me is why you are so angry at Hillary that you call her names. Do you really think she’s dishonest? Do you really think she lied about her email? Do you really think there’s something sleezy [sic] about raising money from rich people? Do you really think there’s something sleazy about the Clinton Foundation?”
Well, I don’t recall calling Hillary names, though I have said I consider her behavior unethical and her statements verging on dishonesty. She’s also lied about the Bosnia incident, conveniently forgot stuff about her emails, blamed her concussion on her failure to turn over emails when she left her position as Secretary of State, and said she was unfamiliar with how emails were given “classified” status and how they were marked.
So in answer to that last comment, yes, I think Hillary has been dishonest, and yes, I think she lied about her emails. (When other politicians “forget” all kinds of potentially incriminating stuff, nobody believes them. Hillary gets a pass). Yes, I think there’s something sleazy about her behavior including her failing to avoid the appearance of preferential access to her granted to donors to the Clinton Foundation. And yes, I think the Clinton Foundation, for all the good it does, is, if not sleazy in its behavior, “forgetful” in a way that happens to benefit it (failing, for example, to turn over lists of foreign donors.)
If you want more, read the Atlantic‘s new piece, “From Whitewater to Benghazi: A Clinton-Scandal Primer,” by David Graham. Graham lists all the scandals that have dogged both Hillary and Bill, and rates them as to how serious they are. Several are in fact “quite serious” and other problematic.
But what bothers me most of all is liberals telling me to shut up with my criticisms about Hillary Clinton because that hurts her and could help Donald Trump win the Presidency. In other words, the ends (Clinton as President) justify the means (Professor Ceiling Cat, Emeritus stifling himself).
Sorry, but I won’t do that, for it’s fundamentally anti-liberal to censor yourself about problematic aspects of a cause that is generally good—or in this case, the best of a bad lot. The tactic of “Stifle, Edith” can in fact be used for any election: “don’t criticize our candidate or a Republican might win.” But criticism has its good sides, too. For one thing, it calls attention to a candidate’s flaws, enabling them to correct the issues. The rearrangement of the Clinton Foundation, so that Bill will leave the Board if Hillary wins the Presidency (but not before then!) came directly from criticism in the press.
And the “stifle, Edith” criticism can be used not just for elections, but for public policy. When Obama pushed his healthcare policy, it had flaws. I didn’t point them out, not being deeply familiar with the issues, but others did. Still, I remember calls that we shouldn’t criticize the problematic aspects of that policy, but simply shut up and favor it because, after all, the ends were good.
So, liberals, examine your own conscience when you ask people to stop criticizing Democratic candidates lest it help the other side. What will be the ultimate result of your calling for self censorship? And how far should that go?
As for me, I’m not going to stifle myself. I am voting for Hillary and I despise what Trump stands for, but Clinton is far from a perfect candidate. She’s the lesser of two weevils.
NOTE: The point of this post is mostly about repeated calls for Democrats to stop criticizing Hillary Clinton. I’d appreciate it if the discussion would be mostly about that rather than rehashing the actual accusations leveled at her. But of course I’m not going to ban comments about the latter stuff.