Politics & Policy

Hillary Clinton’s Empire of Dirt

Clinton speaks at a campaign event in Ames, Iowa. (Scott Olson/Getty)
The more she castigates others, the more she convicts herself.

What have I become?

My sweetest friend.

Everyone I know

Goes away in the end.

You could have it all,

My empire of dirt.

I will let you down.

I will make you hurt.

— “Hurt,” Nine-Inch Nails

For nearly 40 years, Bill and Hillary Clinton have crafted joint power careers. But “in the end,” what have they become? What is left but their front foundation, their Soros-funded surrogates, and their lock-step loyalists — in other words, their “empire of dirt”?

Hillary Clinton just released a brief video about the need for women to stand up to their sexual assaulters while demanding relief from society’s unwarranted doubts about their allegations: “It’s not enough to condemn campus sexual assault. We need to end campus sexual assault!” Who would not agree with that assertion?

Not long ago, she went after hedge-fund operators and the Wall Street insiders who connive, avoid taxes, and profit inordinately: “You see the top 25 hedge-fund managers making more than all of America’s kindergarten teachers combined. And, often, paying a lower tax rate!” The liberal PolitiFact rated Ms. Clinton’s assertion as true.

Ms. Clinton, during this campaign season, has also sermonized on student loans and the crushing burden universities are putting on American youth, to the tune of $1 trillion in collective debt: “We need to make a quality education affordable and available to everyone willing to work for it without saddling them with decades of debt!” “Decades of debt” is no exaggeration.

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She also deplored big-money donations to political campaigns and the corrupting influence they have had on presidential politics: “We need to fix our dysfunctional political system and get unaccountable money out of it once and for all — even if it takes a constitutional amendment!” Note the repetition of “we need,” which I suppose includes herself.

Transparency for public officials (“real sunshine”; “I’m trying to be as transparent as possible”) has been another of her themes — as in the deplorable absence of it both in our elected politicians themselves and in the manner in which our government operates.

Almost every issue that Ms. Clinton has raised and every position of advocacy that she now embraces are direct refutations of either her present or her past behavior — and sometimes both.

She has also weighed in on foreign policy, defending her record, whose logical trajectory was the present non-treaty with Iran, which she wholeheartedly supports.

The problem with all of Ms. Clinton’s advocacies is not that the liberal positions she supports are unusual; indeed, her proposed solutions to these problems are standard progressive orthodoxy.

The rub instead is that almost every issue that Ms. Clinton has raised and every position of advocacy that she now embraces are direct refutations of either her present or her past behavior — and sometimes both. Surely she is aware of that?

Bill Clinton’s sordid sexual harassments are ancient history better forgotten. But Ms. Clinton must accept that her advocacy video about sexual assault and harassment unfortunately dredges them back up. Do her present boilerplate professions of believing the alleged victim amount to a sort of postmodern “I will let you down” confession? For two decades of Bill Clinton’s political ascendance, Ms. Clinton’s own attitude toward women who alleged that they were either harassed or sexually assaulted by Governor and then President Bill Clinton was that they were either delusional or gold-digging connivers. Nothing that Ms. Clinton said or did ever suggested that Juanita Broddrick, Kathleen Willey, Paula Jones, or Monica Lewinsky — or scores of others — was anything other than a liar or an opportunist. All these victims advanced claims as convincing as, or more so than, the he-said/she-said campus incidents in the news, whose resolutions apparently demand suspension of the Bill of Rights.

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Did Ms. Clinton ever remonstrate with political hitman James Carville for suggesting that Jones was little more than a bought, trailer-trash libertine? As a lawyer, did she refuse to defend a predator charged with the sexual assault of a girl — or muse about her legal gymnastics that got him off? As a professional woman and First Lady, did she insist that White House employees — including the President — be exemplars of gender-equality etiquette? Did she model her current proposed code of campus sexual behavior on what once emanated from the West Wing?

#share#Mindboggling was the variety of charges against Bill Clinton. They represented a primer on the current debate over what constitutes both felonious and nihilistic male aggression against women: coerced rough sex; on-the-job roughhouse groping; demands for humiliating ad hoc sex acts; the use of power and position by the employer to leverage quickie, on-the-desk gratifications from young and vulnerable female interns. In other words, Bill Clinton became iconic of just the sort of multifaceted sexual assaults — and of male denials and conspiratorial female efforts to demonize the victim — about which Ms. Clinton now shakes her finger. At various stages of his life, Bill Clinton has played the archetypal wild campus womanizer, the vain, sexually manipulative careerist, the lecherous employer, and the immune sex harasser, all of which current campus assault advocacy targets. Surely she knows that?

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We all understand the principles of medieval liberal exemption. Progressives often voice abstract anguish to win psychological absolution and political cover for their own moral lapses and hypocrisies: The louder the condemnation, often the greater the guilt and the need for absolution. The implosion of former senator John Edwards was a case in point. But in Ms. Clinton’s case she has taken such pre-Reformation penance to a new low. Had she, after four or five of these habitual and sordid episodes, finally, in true feminist fashion, disconnected from Bill Clinton, she would have done far more truth-to-power advocacy for abused women than any cheap after-the-fact video that is now peddled to save her campaign.

Why is Ms. Clinton railing about big money? If she is really willing to change the Constitution to end the Big Money/Big Politics nexus, she might do two things. One, she could scold Barack Obama for being the first presidential candidate in the history of campaign-financing laws to have refused public funds, with the limiting and transparent protocols that they require, in order to be freed to raise the largest privately funded war chest in presidential campaign history — as well as to set records as the greatest recipient of Wall Street cash. Nothing has been more deleterious to the progressive idea of barring the piling up of unlimited money for presidential races.

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Two, she might repudiate the enormous amounts of cash from the global financial elite that have poured into the Clinton Foundation (whose motto is now suddenly “A Commitment to Honesty, Transparency, and Accountability”) on the expectation of a quid quo pro from the U.S. government.

The Clinton e-mails will rank with the Nixon tapes as the most desperate examples of political dishonesty and historical distortion of the last half-century.

Transparency? Ms. Clinton’s private server and e-mail accounts will be textbook examples of what high public officials must never do again. The agenda of her personal server and accounts was to hide her official communications from audit and indeed from historical appraisal itself. Everything she has told us about the scandal has so far proved either half true or outright false — and on the premise that she had the clout to avoid the repercussions that lesser offenders with fewer connections routinely face. The Clinton e-mails will rank with the Nixon tapes as the most desperate examples of political dishonesty and historical distortion of the last half-century. As for now, Ms. Clinton’s legal future for the next 16 months rests entirely on the degree of pique that Ms. Valerie Jarrett, White House consigliere, feels in any given news cycle.

If Ms. Clinton is worried about the clout and lucre enjoyed by hedge-fund operators — the sorts that Donald Trump routinely castigates as tax evaders and paper shifters, in contrast to supposed men of action like himself who at least build tall eponymous towers with their fortunes — she need not lecture the right wing about them. Ms. Clinton lives and breathes hedge-fund money.

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Here would be a better five-point Clinton lesson: 1) Always pay the IRS the full amount of all taxes owed on profits from market speculation. 2) Don’t allow a daughter to work for such suspect hedge funds or, barring that, at least suggest to her that those under 35 don’t routinely end up worth $15 million without some sort of inequity. 3) Don’t lecture America on Wall Street profiteering until you have advised your own daughter and son-in-law about the sources of their fortune. 4) Don’t solicit hedge-fund profits for the Clinton Foundation. 5) Don’t speculate in futures markets on the premise of using insider contacts to leverage a $1,000 investment into $100,000, at the expense of someone else less connected, and at odds variously calibrated at somewhere in the vicinity of 250 million to one.

The vast spike in college costs — which have risen far faster than the annual rate of inflation — is due to the growth of administrative bloat (much of it in diversity bureaucracies), the expansion of universities into lifestyle landscapes, from upscale rec centers to advocacy programs and outreach (including the sort of guest lecturing in which Ms. Clinton is paid $300,000 for a 30-minute talk), and universities’ lack of fiscal restraint due to federally guaranteed student loans. If Ms. Clinton were sincere about the plight of campus victims, she might jawbone that part-time lecturers be treated at least with the same dignity as Wal-Mart check-out clerks and be given pay parity with them, or that bundled student-loan interest-rate packages should be no higher than those on used-car loans. Her $10,000-a-minute fee for a hack ramble is emblematic of college financial mismanagement, the effects of which fall ultimately upon indebted students.

#related#As for Iran and Ms. Clinton’s record as secretary of state, history is already the judge. The disastrous U.S. foreign policy toward Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and the Middle East in general was established on her watch. Her team favored the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, set the stage for the U.S. abdication from a once-quiet pre-ISIS Iraq, was in charge of the “lead from behind”/ “We came, we saw, he died” fiasco in Libya, established the security protocols in Benghazi and then blame-gamed a video-maker for the violence, dubbed Assad a “reformer” before he was to be red-lined out of power, estranged Israel from the U.S., invited the Russians into the Middle East, and gave pseudo-deadlines to Iran before dropping all the conditions that were once said to be non-negotiable requisites for non-proliferation talks.

Many in the Democratic party worry that Ms. Clinton’s lackluster performance so far might suggest that, actually, she has always been a mediocre politico. Or they privately fret that she is not vigorous on the stump and makes someone roughly her age and in her profession — say, Senator Elizabeth Warren (born a mere year and a half later) — seem two decades younger by comparison.

Perhaps so. But the real problem with the Clinton candidacy is psychological.

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Hillary Clinton has developed a strange but habitual tic of railing and remonstrating about hot-button issues and egregious behaviors that offer windows into her own plagued soul, past and present. It is as if Hillary has become an ailing Johnny Cash singing “Hurt” — draped in black at the end, a faint simulacrum of his once combative self, seeking new resonance through a rocker’s lyrics for the confession of his own sins: “I wear this crown of s— / Upon my liar’s chair.”

In her Freudian calls for solutions to the sort of ethical and moral transgressions that have defined her own long career, near the end of it, Hillary Clinton seems to be asking in vain of her dissipating cadres of true believers, “What have I become?”

Answer?

As she limps along, wounded, on the campaign trail, her flat, half-hearted sermons are best translated as, “You could have it all, / My empire of dirt. / I will let you down. / I will make you hurt.”

NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Case for Trump.

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