How do you know that a Democrat has found him or herself embroiled in a particularly devastating scandal? When the press begins to ask when the Republicans will begin “overplaying” their hands.
This weekend, you could feel the ground beginning to fall out from beneath Hillary Clinton’s supporters as members of the reporting and commentary classes began to express their doubts about the former secretary of state’s ethics.
Among some prominent members of the media who are generally not predisposed to dismiss the Democratic candidate in a presidential race, the Clinton Foundation’s shady fundraising practices and the former secretary’s lackadaisical attitude toward allegations of unethical behavior can no longer be dismissed.
On Sunday, The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus, who was underwhelmed and a little offended by the one-dimensional nature of Clinton’s campaign debut, asked a variety of uncomfortable questions regarding the effect of the Clinton Foundation’s suspect donations on the former first family.
“Did Clinton go soft on Algeria because it sent this check to her husband’s foundation?” she asked. “Did the foundation intentionally try to slip the check past the folks at State? I doubt it. Did Algeria give simply because its government was moved by the plight of the Haitian people? Pardon my cynicism.”
Which brings us to greed, and the Yiddish word, chazer. It means “pig,” but has a specific connotation of piggishness and gluttony. This is a chronic affliction of the Clintons, whether it comes to campaign fundraising (remember the Lincoln Bedroom?), compulsive speechifying (another six-figure check to speak at a public university?) or assiduous vacuuming up of foundation donations from donors of questionable character or motives.
Thus, as Hillary Clinton left the State Department — when she was clearly contemplating running for president — the newly renamed Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation could have done the prudent thing and kept the existing restrictions in place. Instead, the foundation quietly freed itself from the limitations, creating ethics questions that could have been avoided.
“The notion of the sloppiness and the greed,” Marcus said in an appearance on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday, “is simply inexcusable.”
She isn’t alone.
“Clinton’s crisis management team makes a big deal of the fact that ‘Clinton Cash’ author Peter Schweizer hasn’t proven a ‘quid pro quo.’ Really?” National Journal’s Ron Fournier asked. “It takes a pretty desperate and cynical campaign to set the bar of acceptable behavior at anything short of bribery.”
Fournier lamented that Clinton’s candidacy is likely to only reinforce the American public’s total loss of faith in the efficacy and goodwill of public servants.
You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to know that foreign companies and countries expected something in return for donating to the Clinton foundation rather than the countless other charities not connected to the U.S. presidency.
You don’t have to be a lawyer to know the Clintons violated ethics rules.
You don’t have to be a historian to know their ethical blind spot has decades-old roots.
Even ostensibly neutral reporters are firing up the air-raid siren over Clinton’s various indiscretions. Politico reporter Glenn Thrush noted on Sunday that the former secretary’s attempt to project herself as an unassuming figure on a humble listening tour is being weakened by the scandals that dog her.
“[T]hat effort is being undermined by a parallel storyline, and the well-executed New Hampshire trip was blown off basic cable by a barrage of stories Thursday documenting questionable practices by the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation — and illuminating once again what appeared to be the same old indifference to boundaries between charity, politics and wealth,” he wrote. “And several top Democrats told me they were worried, too, about the accumulation of stories — ‘at some point the weight just pulls everything down,’ one told me.”
These aren’t attempts to scuttle Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. Quite the opposite, in fact. These and other commentators and reporters are sounding alarm bells precisely because they want to see this campaign succeed. The fear that the former secretary of state’s latest presidential bid is imploding even before it truly begins is growing prevalent. In concert with The New York Times editorial board virtually begging the Clintons to come out and address their family foundation’s apparent improprieties, it’s clear that the commentary class is panicking over the Democratic Party’s last, best hope to retain control of the White House in 2016.