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Hillary Clinton, instead of running as a Democrat for president, ought to be a full-time investor, because, you see, she once put $1,000 in cattle futures and, nine months later, had made $l00,000. It’s not precisely comparable to making a hole-in-one on every hole in an 18-hole golf course, but her feat brings that feat to mind. The lady’s a whiz.
Or maybe not. Maybe, it was once exhaustively implied, she was receiving something on the order of a gift. The man managing her account was a friend and also the lawyer for a major poultry firm that benefited from a policy later supported by Hillary’s husband, Bill, when he sat as governor of Arkansas.
There’s a whiff of a scandal here, but it’s a 1979 incident that began to be nationally examined during the Clinton administration, and all the headline juice was long ago sucked out of it. Hillary Clinton is a beneficiary in at least one sense of not being a fresh face. While reporters are busily revealing possible transgressions of other candidates — doings the public at large never before focused on — few are bothering to detail again the Hillary tales that thrilled us in days of yore.
Thus it is that while this front-running Democratic candidate has been able to pose as Ms. Integrity seriously addressing the issues that matter, many of us have been learning for the first time about conduct of other candidates that might be reason for concern. The press has been telling us, for instance, how Mike Huckabee seemed to think being governor of Arkansas was a chance to rise delightedly from bed every morning to see what new freebies had come his way. But the press’s choicest offerings have been about Rudolph Giuliani. The former mayor of New York City has taken so much heat that his once considerable lead among Republicans in the polls has melted to very nearly even-Steven with Huckabee and Mitt Romney.
There have been accounts of how he supposedly tried to cover up the use of city security for visits to a mistress. While we now know he did no such thing, these reports drew increased attention to the fact that this married man was having an affair. Some stories about his post-mayoral consulting firm have seemed much ado about very little, but did the firm pay close enough attention to lobbying laws? Perhaps not. A tough one for Giuliani has been the indictment of Bernard Kerik on charges of tax evasion and corruption. Kerik had served under Giuliani as New York police commissioner, was recommended by Giuliani to be head of Homeland Security and was a business buddy.
All of this might seem umatchable stuff, but thanks to Stuart Taylor Jr. of the National Journal — one journalist who has in fact bothered to revisit the Hillary Clinton past — we are reminded that she had friends and business associates who were not only indicted, but found guilty and sent to prison. She was an attorney for a business involved in criminal practices. She lied about her role in the firing of the White House employees who made arrangements for press trips when she was first lady, and she lied about having told her chief of staff to remove documents from the office of a deputy White House counsel who had killed himself.
Hillary Clinton has been campaigning as a candidate with experience, as if those days as first lady were something akin to being an associate president. Yet she did not thereby gain experience in negotiating, directing the bureaucracy, dealing with Congress, gaining public support for major initiatives, assessing political possibilities, being held accountable or formulating policy except in one instance when she secretly helped mold a health insurance plan so disastrously inept that her husband’s presidency would never fully recover its momentum.
Giuliani did nothing less than reverse the downward trajectory of America’s largest, most politically complicated city, three of the candidates in the two parties can talk about their governorships, and one, John McCain, can point to Senate leadership exceeding Clinton’s, as well as to military leadership. She is not their equal in those things, but in behavior some have deemed disgraceful? She ranks right up there.
(Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado. He can be reached at SpeaktoJay(at)aol.com.)