To hear former President Bill Clinton speak about wife and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s ongoing email scandal is like have bad flashbacks of the 1990s. Clinton sat down with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria for an interview that aired Sunday morning, Sept. 27, 2015 on “Fareed Zakaria GPS” where he blamed the Republicans and the press for his wife’s exploding scandal surrounding her usage of a private email server during her tenure as Secretary of State (2009-2013). In the interview taped on Thursday, Sept. 24 Former President Clinton likened what he considers hyped attacks to those he faced during his first successful run for president in 1992.
Throughout the 1990s, the Clintons always seem to blame the Republicans for their scandals coming to the forefront, whether it was Whitewater, Troopergate, Vince Foster, Paula Jones or Monica Lewinsky. The former president again made that accusation by telling Zakaria, “I have never seen so much expended on so little.” The former president believes this scandal mongering “is just something that has been a regular feature of all of our presidential campaigns, except in 2008 for unique reasons.” The key line however in the interview was when Clinton expressed, “It always happens. We’re seeing history repeat itself.”
When the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, it was Hillary who with eerily similar words came to her husband’s defense. Hillary appeared on NBC’s The Today Show just days after the Lewinsky scandal broke on Jan. 27, 1998. The then first lady told host Matt Lauer, “This is – the great story here for anybody willing to find it and write about it and explain it is this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president.”
Former President Clinton did not go as far only alluding, saying he was not going to call the hype around the email scandal, a “Republican plot.” Bill Clinton said, “No, I’m not going there, because that’s what the – it’s not a – a plot makes it sound like it’s a secret. I think that – that there are lots of people who wanted there to be a race for different reasons. And they thought the only way they could make it a race was a full-scale frontal assault on her. And so this email thing became the biggest story in the world.”
The Clintons love dramatic apologies given way too late in the game after spending months of denials and pushing the blame to others. Then the Clintons believe when they finally apologize all should be forgiven. President Clinton was like that in August 1998 when he finally admitted to his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky after giving a deposition to a grand jury, nearly seven months after the scandal first broke and Clinton repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. Clinton believed he would apologize and it should all be forgotten, it was not as the Starr Report was released and he was impeached by the House of Representatives.
President Clinton believes the American public equally should be taken by Hillary’s halfhearted apology earlier this month and move on. Clinton pointed out, “She said she was sorry that her personal email caused all this confusion. And she’d like to give the election back to the American people. I think it will be all right. But it’s obvious what happened.” History however, proved with Bill as many warn about Hillary’s scandal, where there is smoke there is fire, there is more to the scandal and it remains to be uncovered and will only be resolved when the last email from the erase server is retrieved and analyzed.
The Former President went on a classic rant blaming the Republicans for the scandal and then going forward to emphasize policy, when the conduct to begin is the reason for the shift in conversation. Clinton accused, “The other party doesn’t want to run against her. And if they do, they’d like her as mangled up as possible. And they know that if they leak things and say things, that that is catnip to the people who get bored talking about what’s your position on student loan relief or dealing with the shortage of mental health care, or what to do with the epidemic of prescription drugs and heroin out in America.” The problem is the scandal is at the heart of Hillary’s ability to lead to be trust and lead the country, she is running on her record as Secretary of State, a leadership role, her failure in that speaks volumes about her ability to be president.
Hillary Clinton is running for the Democratic presidential nomination has a reasonable chance of capturing the nomination unless Vice President Joe Biden steps in and decides to run. The scandal however, has taken a major toll on her once inevitable nomination. Her poll numbers are shrinking with new poll released, with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders taking the lead in early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire. The public questions Clinton’s trustworthiness and honesty and most associate her with the word liar. Former President Clinton blamed Hillary’s falling numbers on the presidential campaign telling Zakaria, “What happened? The presidential campaign happened. And the nature of the coverage shifted from issue-based to political.”
She only remains in true contention, because of the lack of a viable Democratic alternative. Democratic leadership do not believe the popular Sanders with a socialist past could win the election, Biden is the most electable, winning match-ups against the Republican’s front running candidates, but he has yet to announce or even fully decide on a run. The former president however, believes his wife would be a great president, expressing, “I think Hillary would be a great president.”
Clinton’s campaign and scandal are making political pundits, analysts, academics reflect on the first Clinton presidency with the rare exception rose colored delusional analysis, there is no nostalgia for a presidency riddled with scandals, and no yearning to makes the teens the 90s redux. Now with the economy on the mend and even thriving there is no envy for the economic prosperity of the first Clinton era.
It is difficult to celebrate a presidency so scandal filled that it ended up consuming the president’s time. Clinton spent his second term fighting only the second impeachment in American history rather than actually accomplishing an agenda. Most historians recognize the disgrace Clinton brought to the country, a mixed legacy based mostly on a successful economy, a “what might have been” presidency. Clinton’s behavior and its aftermath cannot be separated from the rest of his presidential record, to do so is reckless, partisan, showing sympathy and approval for behavior that was repulsive on an individual level and unforgivable when it’s the leader of the free world acting as an example. Clinton’s scandals made America weak and vulnerable and often a laughing stalk on the world stage.
Clinton’s email scandal replicates the Clinton penchant for trying to blame the Republicans for problems of the Clintons own making. As the Atlantic looked back at the scandals of Clinton past and present they pointed out, “the email controversy is turning into a classic Clinton scandal.” Like during Bill’s presidency an investigation like Whitewater, based on a 1978 real estate investment exploded revealing further misconduct, including the crowning moment of shame of Bill Clinton’s presidency being impeached by the House of Representatives for high crimes and misdemeanors for perjury and obstruction of justice.
Clinton put the nation through a rollercoaster of uncertainty for an entire year in 1998 because he could not keep his pants zipped in the Oval Office with a young star struck White House intern, and he was not man or president enough to admit he was wrong until he perjured himself and asked others to do the same.
Hillary Clinton’s scandal could be far worst, as she is accused of putting national security at risk, when she was entrusted with the highest cabinet post meant to protect it. Although the emphasis has been the fact that Clinton used a private email server, the question whether she compromised national security by sending or receiving top secret or classified information. Since the interview was taped the State Department have discovered additional emails that Clinton did not handover which also indicates she lied that about when she started using the server, which turns out to have been over a month before she testified she did.
There are ongoing investigations in the House, Senate and the FBI, and there are pending lawsuits. There are still questions involving the original scandal knowing about the threat that led to the Benghazi, Libya terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2012. The House Committee on Benghazi is in the process of interviewing Clinton’s former aides at the State Department and Clinton is set to testify on Oct. 22.
That investigation spawned the email scandal, and others. The special employee status Clinton granted trusted aide and former Deputy State Department Chief of Staff Huma Abedin, who worked for the government and the private contractors including being on Hillary’s private payroll. Clinton’s controversial legal advice from longtime Bill Clinton aide Sydney Blumenthal especially surrounding the Benghazi attacks. There are also unresolved issues surrounding the money the Clintons collected from speeches, and their Clinton Foundation.
The Clinton scandals prove history is repeating and it is reminding the American public what was wrong with Clinton’s presidency in the 1990s; the scandals that constantly surrounded it whether playing out in the background or consuming the country and every moment in the news media. Hillary Clinton time as Secretary of State is proving that scandal does not follow the Clintons because the Republicans or the press yearns for it, but because they create it.
The world is far different than it was in 1990s when the Clintons first occupied the White House it is far more volatile internationally with the rise of ISIS and continued threats of terrorism but also within the nation. Washington is the most partisan it has ever been, where a Speaker of the House is forced to resign by the extremists within his party, because he is a moderate willing to work across the aisle to do what is right for the country. The American public does not want to relive the divisiveness of the Clinton years; they do not to hear any more accusations of vast right wing conspiracies, and any more scandals that take the country and leadership away from the important task of governing.
Former President Clinton is right history is repeating, but one of the points about history is learning it is to prevent the mistakes of the past in the future. Another Clinton presidency would mean historians have failed by replacing facts with misty-eyed nostalgia or partisanship and the country will be doomed and consumed with four or eight more years of Clinton scandals. In the 2016 presidential election, the American voters need to make a choice to break that cycle and elect a Democrat or Republican that has not previously occupied the White House and can chart a new path for the nation, and leave the Clintons to where they belong, in history.