The case against Hillary Clinton could have been written before the recent WikiLeaks and FBI disclosures. But these documents do provide hard textual backup.
The most sensational disclosure was the proposed deal between the State Department and the FBI in which the FBI would declassify a Hillary Clinton email and State would give the FBI more slots in overseas stations. What made it sensational was the rare appearance in an official account of the phrase “quid pro quo,” which is the current dividing line between acceptable and unacceptable corruption.
This is nonetheless an odd choice for most egregious offense. First, it occurred several layers removed from the campaign and Clinton. It involved a career State Department official (he had the same position under Condoleezza Rice) covering not just for Clinton but for his own department.
Second, it’s not clear which side originally offered the bargain. Third, nothing tangible was supposed to exchange hands. There was no proposed personal enrichment – a Rolex in return for your soul – which tends to be our standard for punishable misconduct.
And it never happened. The FBI turned down the declassification request.
Indeed, if the phrase “quid pro quo” hadn’t appeared, it would have received little attention. Moreover, it obscures the real scandal – the bottomless cynicism of the campaign and of the candidate.
Among dozens of examples, the Qatari gambit. Qatar, one of the worst actors in the Middle East, offered $1 million as a “birthday” gift to Bill Clinton for five minutes of his time. We don’t know the “quid” here, but it’s got to be big.
In the final debate, Clinton ran and hid when asked about pay-for-play at the Clinton Foundation. And for good reason. The emails reveal how foundation donors were first in line for favors and contracts.
A governance review by an outside law firm reported some donors “may have an expectation of quid pro quo benefits in return for gifts.”
The campaign’s soullessness emerges almost poignantly in the emails. In one largely overlooked passage, Clinton complains her speechwriters have not given her any overall theme or rationale. Isn’t that the candidate’s job? Aide Joel Benenson asked: “Do we have any sense from her what she believes or wants her core message to be?”
Hence, financial regulation, as in Dodd-Frank. As she told a Goldman Sachs gathering, after the financial collapse there was “a need to do something because, for political reasons … you can’t sit idly by and do nothing.”
Giving the appearance something had to be done. That’s not why Elizabeth Warren supported Dodd-Frank. Which is the difference between a conviction politician like Warren and a calculating machine like Clinton.
We knew all this, but we hadn’t seen it so clearly laid out. Illicit and illegal as is WikiLeaks, it is the camera in the sausage factory.
I didn’t need the Wiki files to oppose Hillary Clinton. As a conservative, I have long disagreed with her worldview and policies. As for character, I have watched her long enough to find her deeply flawed, to the point of unfitness. But for those heretofore unpersuaded, the recent disclosures should close the case.
A case so strong that, against any of a dozen possible GOP candidates, voting for her opponent would be a no-brainer. Against Donald Trump, however, it’s a dilemma. I will not vote for Hillary Clinton. But, as I’ve explained before, I could never vote for Trump.
The only question is whose name I’m going to write in. With Albert Schweitzer doubly unavailable (noncitizen, dead), I’m down to Paul Ryan or Ben Sasse. Two weeks to decide.