The com­ing del­uge on Hil­lary’s pa­rade

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - BY WES­LEY PRUDEN

Drip, drip, drip. Any­one can see that the lady’s coif­fure is damp and her shoes need at­ten­tion, but she’s not yet soak­ing wet. So when does the drip, drip, drip be­come the del­uge? Maybe sooner than later.

Hil­lary Clin­ton still has the money, the name recog­ni­tion, the big donors, the party mules and good poll num­bers in the places where they should do her the great­est good. But first there’s Iowa, where she’s trail­ing Bernie San­ders by a point, and New Hamp­shire, where’s she’s tank­ing. Her mo­men­tum has faded in the wake of a mis­er­able sum­mer that prom­ises to get worse in au­tumn. It’s a long time be­tween now and next year, but once mo­men­tum — “the big mo’” as Ge­orge Bush the El­der called it — is lost it’s dif­fi­cult to get it back.

On the other hand, we’ve seen this movie be­fore. Sev­eral times. Hill and Bubba have a re­mark­able gift for sur­vival in the face of catas­tro­phe, and im­pend­ing doom al­ways seems to come with a brass lin­ing. She and Bubba have had more close calls than In­di­ana Jones. Theirs is the long­est-run­ning soap opera since the in­ven­tion of the vac­uum tube made ra­dio pos­si­ble. Al Jol­son’s vaude­ville act didn’t have the stay­ing power of the Clin­ton Good­time Hour. Bubba’s bed­room ad­ven­tures and Hil­lary’s throw­ing arm — Dizzy Dean and Wal­ter John­son would have en­vied such mus­cu­lar tal­ent — have been en­ter­tain­ing us since long be­fore there was a bridge to the new cen­tury.

But ev­ery act has its day, and even­tu­ally it’s time to leave ’em laugh­ing be­fore the cheers suc­cumb in sor­row. Enough is enough. The end of Clin­ton World is not yet, but a dis­cern­ing eye can see the end of their world from here. Hil­lary and her man, now play­ing an un­ac­cus­tomed sec­ond banana, are not yet on the ropes, but she’s hit­ting the smelling salts like a drunk reach­ing for another bot­tle of Thun­der­bird. She might take con­so­la­tion in the in­con­tro­vert­ible fact that no one else could have lasted this long af­ter ex­po­sure of her cel­e­brated greed, graft and gift for plun­der.

She could take com­fort for a while in the knowl­edge that the email scan­dal was not seen as a scan­dal any­where be­yond the Belt­way. Why should play­ing fast and loose with the na­tion’s clas­si­fied se­crets worry any­one? Maybe the North Kore­ans or the Rus­sians wouldn’t hack into them, any­way. Not many peo­ple know how their com­put­ers and email servers work, but ev­ery­body un­der­stands lies, lit­tle ones and white ones and big black ones. The public fi­nally gets it that it’s go­ing to con­tinue to be just one darn thing af­ter another. The Demo­cratic es­tab­lish­ment fi­nally gets it that for the Repub­li­cans, Hil­lary is the gift that just keeps on giv­ing.

Hil­lary in­sists that she didn’t do any­thing wrong — mis­takes were made and all that, but she didn’t re­ally do any­thing ev­ery­body else doesn’t do — but now the man who set up and main­tains her in­fa­mous email server, one Bryan Pagliano, is ne­go­ti­at­ing the terms un­der which he’s will­ing to talk to Congress. He won’t talk un­less he gets im­mu­nity from pros­e­cu­tion, but pros­e­cu­tion for what is not clear, if no­body did any­thing wrong. Ev­ery­thing sounds vaguely jail-y, like so much of what the Clin­tons and the peo­ple around them do.

It’s enough to make a girl want to throw a lamp at some­body. She threw one at Barack Obama this week, vow­ing to sus­tain a “ro­bust mil­i­tary com­mit­ment” in the Per­sian Gulf, even threat­en­ing to go to war to deal with the dam­age that Mr. Obama’s deal with the mul­lahs in Tehran in­vites in the Mid­dle East. “We will act,” she said, with the clear im­pli­ca­tion that she thinks Mr. Obama won’t. She dis­patched an aide to tell re­porters af­ter her speech at the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion that she didn’t re­ally say what she said. Her re­buke was not in­tended as a re­buke. Des­per­a­tion drives the des­per­ate to say des­per­ate things, and she’s still smart­ing over the pres­i­dent’s en­cour­ag­ing Joe Bi­den to get into the pres­i­den­tial race.

She made what some call an apol­ogy for her email server in an in­ter­view with ABC News. She con­ceded that what she did “was a mis­take.” She did not sound con­trite. The “apol­ogy,” if that’s what it was, left more ques­tions than it an­swered. A big ques­tion, still unan­swered, is whether she both­ered to ask the State Depart­ment lawyers whether she could do what no other gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial of her pay grade had ever done, or did she de­cide that since the Clin­tons make up their own rules it was OK for her to do as she pleased.

She can’t look back now. Sev­eral some­ones are gain­ing on her. Wes­ley Pruden is editor emer­i­tus of The Washington Times.

Al Jol­son

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