Barack Obama has given us occasion to reflect on our antipathy to Bill and Hillary Clinton as we felt it during the Clinton presidency. We arrived at the judgment that Clinton is a repulsive rogue leading a long train of retainers and defenders and apologists. Foremost among those in Clinton’s train of defenders was Madam Hillary.
Clinton has done nothing to disabuse us of our low estimate of his character. Madam Hillary’s tenure in office as Senator and Secretary of State has done nothing to raise our estimate of her qualities either.
Yet Barack Obama has provided a new context for our judgment. In a sense, we didn’t know how good we had it during the Clinton years. Clinton reached meaningful accommodations with the Republican congressional majority that he helped to create in the historic midterm elections of 1994. These accommodations contributed in part to the prosperity that helped him weather the disgrace of his office during his second term. His illegal behavior derived from the pursuit of personal pleasures, not an abiding distaste for constitutional forms. His foreign policy was a mess, but he didn’t seek to align the United States with our enemies. It takes an Obama.
The saga of Madam Hillary’s private/official email prompts National Review’s Kevin Williamson to this blunt assessment:
The Clintons are creeps and liars and scoundrels and misfits, always have been, always will be. They are the penicillin-resistant syphilis of American politics.
Williamson concludes in the same vein:
A self-respecting people would have sent this clan of scrofulous grifters and po-faced con artists into whatever passes for exile (comfortable exile, of course) in the 21st century. Instead, we are giving them a serious shot at a return to the White House.
At least this time, we’ll know to keep an eye on the silver.
But it would be worse this time around. Were the Clintons to return to power, they would be set loose on the expanded field of executive lawlessness that reflects Obama’s work in office. That’s generally true of whoever follows Obama, yet all the more reason to pray for Obama’s successor to be of decent character and not Madam Hillary.