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November 19th, 2017

Insight

What Hillary's learned from her 'mistakes' --- and what America has still yet to

Jonah Goldberg

By Jonah Goldberg

Published August 6, 2015

  What Hillary's learned from her 'mistakes' --- and what America has still yet to

If you want a glimpse of what a Hillary Clinton presidency will look like, just pick up a newspaper or turn on the news. It won't be much different than this.

When her husband was in the Oval Office and embroiled in myriad of scandals, Bill Clinton's defenders would often say the president isn't above the law but he isn't below the law, either. In other words, the president should be judged only by a legal standard. This always struck me as more than a little absurd. Yes, the law matters. Even so, it is but just one relatively short stretch of a much longer border dividing the realms of right and wrong.

Still, his defenders had a point, at least about impeachment. While we may condemn his weak character and his sordid and often-libidinous judgment, overturning the election of a sitting president is no small thing. Poor judgment can rise to the level of an impeachable offense, but in general, questions about character and judgment are best put before voters, not tribunals.

Well, now's our chance.

True to the Clinton playbook, former secretary of State Hillary Clinton is trying to wave away legitimate questions about her appalling behavior as either baseless "partisan" attacks or narrow legalisms normal people don't care about.

Even if you ignore the very live question of whether or not she's guilty of criminal transgressions, you're still left with a woman with abysmal judgment.

Take, for example, her private, unsecured and unauthorized email server.

On their last day in the White House, President Clinton pardoned former CIA directorJohn Deutch, who was being investigated by the Justice Department for having a handful of classified documents on his unsecured computer at home. The mistake, Deutch explained, was born out of a desire for convenience. Sound familiar? The pardon didn't make too much of a splash, given the more outrageous pardons of Clinton donor Marc Rich and brother Roger Clinton. But it's hardly something the former first lady would have forgotten. She just didn't care.


Similarly, former CIA director David Petraeus — her Obama administration ally — had his career destroyed and barely escaped jail for being sloppy with classified material. Clinton and her defenders insist that she wasn't sloppy with classified material, a claimtwo inspectors general find dubious — and much of the intelligence community finds laughable. But to even debate the details is to miss the point: When she ordered that a private server be set up in the first place — in defiance to rules set by both the State Department and the Obama White House — she should have known it was a terrible, no good, horrible idea. She surely should have known that sensitive information might be sent to her vulnerable server, even if she was careful about sending any herself (and she wasn't careful).

Maybe she did know and went ahead anyway because she had things she wanted to hide, or maybe she thought the rules don't apply to her. Or maybe she is so surrounded by fawning men and women that nobody dared explain to her why this was such a bad idea.

Or consider, the sordid incestuous mess that marked her tenure at the State Department while her husband and his foundation were shaking down banks and foreign governments with interests pending at the State Department. Again, forget theample evidence suggesting that criminal laws were violated, even if there are no "smoking guns," her judgment still comes up short. With a lifetime of experience as a lawyer in government — never mind the scandals of her husband's presidency — she has no excuse for not knowing that the appearance of impropriety is the relevant standard.

Of course, it'd be one thing if she made these kinds of mistakes while racking up big policy victories. Quick: What were those?

Wise people learn from their mistakes. And one could argue Clinton has. But she learned the wrong lessons. Instead of changing her behavior, she learned how to better hide the evidence of it. Even former Clinton staffer James Carville surmised she created a private server to hide her emails from congressional oversight.

What hasn't changed is the Clinton way of obfuscating and parsing, attacking motives and deploying attack dogs. That's what she does. And if you want more of it, than you are indeed "Ready for Hillary."

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Jonah Goldberg is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and editor-at-large of National Review Online.

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