Apologies to William Shakespeare, but this quote from Hamlet, Act III, Scene 2 might be apropos for Ms. Jill Abramson, former NYT Editor who penned this opinion piece in The Guardian. The premise: Hillary Clinton is fundamentally honest and trustworthy.
Given that even she cites a NYT-CBS poll up front in the piece stating that 40% of Democrats say that she (Secretary Clinton) cannot be trusted, this is indeed “shock[ing]” as she titled the piece. Let us take a stroll through her argument.
To start with, Ms. Abramson attempts to address the most pressing issue: the FBI case regarding her unclassified email server:
Based on what I know about the emails, the idea of her being indicted or going to prison is nonsensical.
So while Ms. Abramson’s statement could be true, it is an artful dodge. The following paragraph details how long she’s been “investigating” the Clintons, and it serves as the basis for why she thinks Hillary Clinton is fundamentally honest and trustworthy. Anyone who has looked at the laws, Executive Orders, and statutes regarding two areas: handling classified material and federal records retention, knows that it is actually highly likely that Hillary Clinton and a fair amount of her staff are in deep trouble. In fact, many are looking at the next step of when, not if, the FBI recommends indictments whether Attorney General Loretta Lynch will pursue the case**. The Gormogons have stated why this is a case to pursue so I won’t belabor it here. The possible exception is the federal records retention issue – but this has been covered elsewhere on the intrawebs. So either Ms. Abramson is ignorant of the current investigation and truly doesn’t know much “about the emails” or is accepting of the story that Secretary Clinton authored no classified emails (already proven false by emails found) and received and sent on no classified emails because they weren’t marked as such (ignorance is not an excuse and, in fact, the laws require one to report and address such occurrences). I do agree, however, that it is unlikely she will go to prison over this issue if the DoJ actually acts upon the FBI case….but I could be wrong.
The next part is where Ms. Abramson shows her expert knowledge as an editor:
The connection between money and action is often fuzzy. Many investigative articles about Clinton end up “raising serious questions” about “potential” conflicts of interest or lapses in her judgment. Of course, she should be held accountable. It was bad judgment, as she has said, to use a private email server. It was colossally stupid to take those hefty speaking fees, but not corrupt. There are no instances I know of where Clinton was doing the bidding of a donor or benefactor.
First, if someone has “serious questions” and “potential conflicts of interest”, in my book, they are not honest and trustworthy. I guess Ms. Abramson is more generous than I am. She actually prefaces that section with how she measures a politician’s honesty:
The yardsticks I use for measuring a politician’s honesty are pretty simple. Ever since I was an investigative reporter covering the nexus of money and politics, I’ve looked for connections between money (including campaign donations, loans, Super Pac funds, speaking fees, foundation ties) and official actions. I’m on the lookout for lies, scrutinizing statements candidates make in the heat of an election.
Ok, now read that two or three times more and answer me this: what is her “yardstick”? She never specifies it. She states how she has looked for connections and lies and payoffs but never specifies exactly what makes one honest or not with regards to these things. Maybe she thinks the reader will infer that if a politician actually has a connection between money and official actions or actually lies then they aren’t honest.
Second, returning to the powerful editing job, Ms. Abramson states that the email server was “bad judgement” and “colossally stupid” to accept speaking fees – fees that create the impression of impropriety and corruption. But the coup de grace in this section is the closing statement. “There are no instances I know of…” How many times have we heard this from the accused – either on Law and Order (bum-bum***) or in real cases’ coverage? If Hillary Clinton actually did bidding on behalf of a donor do you think she is going to hide and cover it up and we’re left with unproven questions or do you think she is going to advertise it where Ms. Abramson can write about it? Sure, maybe Secretary Clinton did not do so…but then why do the questions persist? Because she’s a prominent politician? Ok, I can name 25 other prominent politicians that don’t have lingering questions over links between donations and speaking fees and official actions. The phrase, “where there is smoke, there is fire” exists for a reason. But the sentence is pure genius on Ms. Abramson’s part. It has to be true and yet, proves nothing one way or the other. It is a throwaway and worth nothing.
Then the former editor tries to argue that compared with other candidates, Clinton is a saint:
As for her statements on issues, Politifact, a Pulitzer prize-winning fact-checking organization, gives Clinton the best truth-telling record of any of the 2016 presidential candidates.
OOoh, “Pulitzer prize-winning fact-checking organization”. Did they check everything she said? How well? And they are ALL politicians, they lie – and let’s be honest**** here, all politicians lie – we might call it “stretching the truth” or excuse it with “they walked that back” or they do so by omission and subtle phrasing or they call it a “mistake”. Heck, we still reference Hillary Clinton’s husbands infamous quote, “it depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” Comparing them doesn’t prove that Clinton is fundamentally honest or trustworthy.
She closes with:
Still, Clinton has mainly been constant on issues and changing positions over time is not dishonest.
It’s fair to expect more transparency. But it’s a double standard to insist on her purity.
But that’s not the argument being made. It’s not a transparency and purity measurement. It is whether she is honest and trustworthy. If it isn’t clear above, I don’t think any politician is honest and trustworthy. Unfortunately, another woman candidate that I favored isn’t still in the race but she once stated the following:
Our founders designed a system that was intended to work for the people, not in spite of them. It would work because it would be led by true public servants, men whose patriotism and love of justice would overcome self-interest or short-term motive.
Our founders would be outraged to see our leaders in Washington today, perched comfortably atop a broken system of their own design — one that is so big and complicated that only the big, the wealthy and the well-connected can handle it.
To continue abusing Hamlet in regards to Hillary Clinton and the dodging of some serious questions of honesty and trustworthiness, let’s cite more from Act III, scene 2: “No, no, they do but jest, poison in jest; no offence i’ the world.”
** The latest thoery I’ve heard is that Lynch might choose to do nothing, which could be interesting given the Scalia seat on the SCOTUS and the Senate. Will those clamoring for the Senate to take action be consistent and clamor for the DoJ to take action as well? Neither are required by law to do so…
*** I always hear that all-pervasive double beat when Law and Order is referenced
**** See what I did there. Almost ‘Puteresque in puns and multi-footnote references