Yes, there are several months before Election Day, and so many surprises that could upend things between now and then, but the way things look now, there is one safe observation about Hillary Clinton’s huge credibility problem: It is not going away.
Yes, her people will argue that after the decision to not indict, further discussion of her email blunders and evasions are “old news.” Well, the old news is cumulative, and even though she escaped, perhaps barely, being formally charged with a crime, FBI Director James Comey outlined a scathing bill of particulars and accused her and her sycophantic subordinates of being “extremely careless.”
The Republicans won’t let it go. They are now demanding she have her security clearance removed, meaning she couldn’t get the classified briefings that presidential nominees routinely receive. And here she is trying to build a case that her opponent, Donald Trump, is too dangerously reckless to be president.
Furthermore, it reinforces the image, built up through the years, that she considers herself too entitled to abide by the rules that ordinary people must. That perception has been reinforced by her husband’s cavalier disregard of propriety when he absolutely had to go and schmooze with Attorney General Loretta Lynch as their planes waited on the same Arizona tarmac. Surely it might have occurred to a former president of the United States that doing so might look a wee bit awkward when his wife was under investigation by agents nominally in the attorney general’s Justice Department universe.
Hillary flippantly dismissed criticism of his little escapade as “second-guessing,” and chances are the response coming out of her campaign will be something along those lines, that while she admits it was a mistake to employ a private email setup as secretary of state, any further discussion of her misconduct will be beating a dead story.
The story changed, of course, as it always does with the Clintons. When confronted with uncomfortable questions, they usually issue a flat denial. In this case, she insisted a year ago: “I did not send nor receive anything that was classified at the time.” Then comes the clever walk-back. In this case, that evolved a few days ago to: “Let me repeat what I have repeated for many months now. I never received nor sent any material that was marked classified.” Now that Comey declared that there were some instances when the classification in fact was “marked,” she is saying nothing.
All this clever manipulation has done, as it always does, is to provide openings for the opposition. In this case it is Donald Trump, whose racist buffoonery should have long ago frightened everyone away. Instead, he’s duking it out with Hillary Clinton for the White House.
We are owed an explanation, perhaps a news conference where she would deal candidly with every skeptical question about the emails, including the ones we haven’t seen. Until then, we have a right to ask, “What more is she hiding?” If she doesn’t do that, the Republicans will pound her into dust. If she doesn’t come clean, we might be horrified after the Nov. 8 election results are in, that we have to get used to the words “President Trump.”
© 2016 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Synd.