By Juan Williams, ,
Published July 07, 2015
When Bill Clinton was asked about foreign contributions to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, the former president told the Today Show: “All I’m saying is the idea that there’s one set of rules for us and another set for everybody else is true.”
One set of rules for the Clintons and one set for everyone else.
Is the former president saying a double standard is being used to hurt the Clintons?
Just one problem – it always seems like the Clintons are the ones who are insisting on this double standard to rationalize their own indiscretions. Other foundations take money from foreign donors but they are not intimately tied to the current secretary of state. Big difference!
It always seems like the Clintons are the ones who are insisting on this double standard to rationalize their own indiscretions. Other foundations take money from foreign donors but they are not intimately tied to the current secretary of state. Big difference!
Last week, more of Hillary Clinton’s emails from her time as Secretary of State were released.
While I don’t see any “Smoking Gun” that many Republicans dream to find – and certainly nothing about Benghazi, which started this fishing expedition - I do see a mountain of evidence that Secretary Clinton is an entitled soul who plays by her own rules.
Earlier this year when The Wall Street Journal reported on the questionable donations to the Clinton Foundation during Mrs. Clinton’s tenure at the State Department the whole enterprise looked like old-fashioned influence peddling.
Now, these new emails shed new light on what seems to be scandalous arrogance in dismissing questions about their high-handed behavior.
One example from the emails that jumps out at me is an interaction between Clinton’s State Department, the Clinton Foundation and the private equity firm, the Blackstone Group.
From the emails, we learned that Clinton asked her aides to help obtain a visa for an individual at the request of Blackstone executives. Records show that Blackstone gave between $250,000 and $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation.
Maybe there is an innocent explanation for all this. But no one knows because Mrs. Clinton has yet to answer tough questions on what was going on at the foundation to insulate her against any expectations from donors of a quid-pro-quo in her post as secretary of state.
A recent CNN/ORC poll found that 57 percent of Americans do not consider Hillary Clinton to be honest and trustworthy. Just 42 percent said she is trustworthy.
Similarly, the latest poll from Quinnipiac University found that a majority of voters in three crucial swing states do say Mrs. Clinton is not honest and trustworthy.
In Florida, it’s 51 to 43 percent. In Ohio, it’s 53 to 40 percent. And in Pennsylvania, it’s 54 - 40 percent.
The Clinton camp is whistling past the graveyard if they think this not a festering sore of a problem for their candidate.
They could easily resolve it by quickly admitting to being tone-deaf about the potential for conflict of interest. But they have preferred to turn away from the issue and accuse others of a “double-standard.”
That strategy is unsustainable. There is no evidence of any criminality but the politics of this mess has the candidate looking less like a woman of the people than a rich, privileged lady who feels she does not have to answer to anyone. That attitude may be a factor in the sudden surge of enthusiasm among Democrats for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, her left-wing rival for the nomination. She needs to come clean and sit for at least one tough-but-fair interview on a national program. Giving an interview to someone who just attended one of your aide’s wedding induces skepticism – not satisfaction.
I nominate a sit-down with Fox News’s Ed Henry who is covering the campaign. If Mrs. Clinton prefers a Sunday morning interview then go toe-to-toe with a well-prepared interviewer – Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace.
To be fair, I believe that the policies Hillary Clinton would advance as president– particularly on immigration, income inequality and climate change – would be much better for the American people than those espoused by any of the Republican candidates.
But the Clintons have chosen to lead public lives and Mrs. Clinton has put herself forward as a candidate for the presidency of the United States.
Everything is fair game for scrutiny as well it should be.
After all these years, the Clintons still seem to bitterly resent and resist this reality.
This plays into the sense that they are entitled to the presidency and that does not sit well with voters. Last week’s use of a rope line to keep journalists at a distance from Mrs. Clinton added to this negative narrative.
It was precisely this kind of hubris that enabled Barack Obama to defeat Hillary in the 2008 primaries.
I am reminded something David Axelrod, President Obama’s former chief political adviser, once said: “Campaigns are like MRIs of the soul – whoever you are, eventually people will find out.”
At the end of the day, Secretary Clinton is a centrist Democrat and the majority of voters line up with her on most of the issues. The demographics of the country are shifting in ways that will give the Democratic nominee a tremendous advantage in the 2016 election.
Yet her failure to handle legitimate questions about the Clinton Foundation show that Hillary Clinton’s worst enemy in her quest to become the first female president is Hillary Clinton herself.