Last night’s debate in Florida was, to give credit where due, one of the more explosive ones of the season. I rarely get the opportunity to shower praise on Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, but he popped open quite a few cans of worms which hadn’t gotten much oxygen in the previous outings between these two candidates. I can also offer a tip of the hat to Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post, who tore apart some of the flatly false statements which the candidates offered in response. It was a stunning display of denial of reality at times, but there’s only so much material for the two Democrats to work with when actually challenged.
One of the first biggies of the evening we need to touch on was the fact that somebody finally asked Hillary Clinton about the ongoing investigation into her email scandal. Ramos went one step further, however, and asked what so many others have wondered. Would Clinton end her campaign if she is finally indicted? She blew the question off with her duplicitous, stock answer about not having broken any laws and even said she wouldn’t respond when pressed with a follow up. Kessler notes that we’ve heard this song and dance before and it doesn’t hold water.
“It was not prohibited. It was not in any way disallowed. And as I have said and as now has come out, my predecessors did the same thing and many other people in the government.”
— Hillary Clinton
This is language that had previously earned Clinton Three Pinocchios. Clinton is relying on the fact that the legal requirement to immediately preserve emails from nongovernment email accounts was not made mandatory until nearly two years after she stepped down as secretary of state.
But that does not mean that when Clinton was secretary of state, there were not already in place State Department rules on how to handle emails and whether to use a personal email account. While Clinton says that “my predecessors did the same thing,” none had set up an exclusive and private email server for all of their departmental communications. (In fact, only Colin L. Powell has ever said he sent emails from a personal account, so Clinton’s use of plural is misleading.)
There’s much more on that one set of questions which is identified as either being highly dubious or flat out wrong. None of it, however, digs down to the fact that even the material which Clinton failed to mark as classified was still classified at the time of creation. Hillary keeps insisting there’s no chance that she’s going to be indicted and she may be right. But that’s only because she has friends in high places who control the Justice Department, not because there’s no fire under all that smoke. As Ambassador John Bolton said earlier this month, “If I’d done what Hillary Clinton did I’d be in jail.”
The candidates also got into a spat over who had supported the banking and auto industry bailout more strongly, with Clinton continuing to falsely claim that Sanders had opposed it. But this time she went one step further, saying that it was a wonderful deal because, “Everybody, who, quote, ‘got money’ in the quote, ‘bailout,’ that also included money for the auto rescue, has paid it back.”
As Kessler notes, this is not only misleading, but patently untrue.
There are different ways to slice this, but Clinton’s certainly not correct about the auto bailout. The most recent update released this month by the Treasury Department shows that $376 billion was repaid out of $431 billion disbursed, or about 82 percent. (Another figure is that a total of $455 billion was authorized.) However, the U.S. government also earned about $66 billion in dividends and other income, bringing the total cash back to $442 billion, more than was disbursed.
The money earmarked just for the auto industry bailout, however, was net loser. Nearly $80 billion was disbursed, of which $63 billion was paid back. Even counting additional income, $70.5 billion was repaid, or about 88 percent.
It goes on from there and Kessler’s entire laundry list is worth a full read. Outrageous claims of things that never happened were layered in with bold boasts and promises which can never be fulfilled. Their positions on immigration, where both candidates battled to say that they would deport fewer illegal aliens than the other, turned into a unspoken condemnation of Barack Obama for actually enforcing immigration law at the border. (Sometimes, anyway.) Expect the clips from this debate to immediately go into the oppo file of the eventual Republican nominee. There were some true whoppers in there and as Sanders continues to push Clinton further and further to the left he’s building a wonderful case against her for swing state voters in the fall.