When Hillary wielded the hatchet for Bill

I wrote here and here about David Brock’s 1996 book The Seduction of Hillary Clinton. This would be the same David Brock who, via Media Matters, now runs interference for Hillary Clinton on scandals large and small.

Although not a hatchet job, The Seduction of Hillary Rodham does not go easy on Hillary Clinton. Brock wrote:

Hillary’s story is that of an intelligent, talented, ambitious, and very determined woman who nevertheless succumbed to powerfully seductive forces — philosophical, political, and personal.

These include the easy moral certitudes of the Christian left; the fashionable instrumental legal doctrines disseminated at Yale Law School; the situational ethics and power-based political philosophies of a certain strain of 1960s radicalism; the dangerously tempting belief, instilled by influential mentors, in the beneficent potential of government as a force for social progress; the frictionless ease of manipulating the levers of power in a corrupt one-party state; and the idealized vision of a new kind of political partnership with her husband that proved impossible to realize.

Above all, she has repeatedly succumbed to the seductive attraction of Bill Clinton himself, perhaps the most articulate, beguiling, and empathetic figure ever to emerge on the American political scene.

Mark Paoletta, a distinguished lawyer who served in the Bush 41 White House Counsel’s Office, shows how Brock’s honest reporting from 20 years ago confirms Donald Trump’s criticism of Bill Clinton’s numerous extramarital affairs and Hillary’s role in keeping the women involved out of the spotlight. As Mark shows, “Trump’s charges eerily mirror those made by one of the Clintons’ biggest defenders in politics today.”

Brock describes how, during Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign, Hillary was heavily involved in covering up Bill’s affairs and mistreatment of women. Brock states that during this campaign Hillary was

…fighting behind the scenes to keep the press from exposing the unseemly aspects of life…with her husband…The shadow campaign apparatus involved Hillary’s lawyer friends…to combat womanizing stories. In this respect, anyway, the Clintons were indeed a second coming of Camelot: not since the Kennedys had there been so many retainers on hand whose primary function appeared to be to keep a lid on all manner of personal scandals. (p. 271)

The zealousness of this effort was remarkable, as Mark shows via Brock’s book:

Brock quotes Rex Nelson, former political editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, recalling that “women were called and told they’d make them look like whores if they came forward.” The campaign hired a private investigator, Jack Palladino, who Brock reports was “part of the same circle with which Hillary Rodham had been associated in the early 1970s.” Palladino’s job was simple: To contain what Clinton operative Betsey Wright called “bimbo eruptions.” Yet Brock reports the press turned a blind eye:

The use of a private investigator to do surveillance on – and attempt to intimidate – potential witnesses was an unprecedented scandal potentially far darker than the story of the ill-starred whitewater investments. Yet with the sole exception of the Washington Post story in July, not one of the campaign reporters chose to write about the practice, even though many were quite familiar with it. (p. 273)

[Brock] goes on to say that “Hillary had always been an advocate of take-no-prisoners tactics,” and that bringing in her old pal Palladino “suggested that with the White House in her sights, Hillary was willing to countenance intimidation to cover up Bill’s peccadilloes.”

Is this relevant to the 2016 campaign? Relying further on Brock’s fine reporting, Mark argues that it is:

Some might think going back to the 1990s is irrelevant in the 2016 campaign. But Brock’s reporting from the time shows that nothing has changed in Clinton-land. Contemptuous of the democratic process, Hillary Clinton still thinks the rules – like keeping the Secretary of State’s emails on government servers so that they are both secure and available as part of the public record in the future – do not apply to her. She still stonewalls or impugns anyone who points out her husband’s misdeeds, and has shown herself capable of doing worse.

Although Trump was correct that the seedy history of the Clintons is itself reason to be suspicious of Hillary’s campaign, Brock put his finger on an even more important lesson about it: Hillary has disdain for the democratic process and believes she doesn’t have to abide by its laws. We’ve seen that attitude play out over and over, but as president it could have a much greater and more harmful effect. This should not be another Clinton story that is simply allowed to disappear.

To fully understand how the past is being repeated in the present, I recommend reading Mark’s piece in its entirety.

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