In the American judicial system, one accused of a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty. In the American political system, the reverse is true. Case in point: the New York Times story on Friday, July 24, “Inquiry Sought in Hillary Clinton’s Use of Email.”
Hillary Clinton at this point has not yet been accused of any crime. All we have is a story from America’s “newspaper of record,” the New York Times, a paper not particularly friendly to the Clintons in the past, reporting that two inspectors general have recommended that the Justice Department launch a criminal inquiry into the issue of the email usage on Hillary’s private account and server. Such an inquiry may never take place, and if it does, it may actually vindicate Hillary Clinton.
Politically, however, the legal status of Hillary Clinton at this point is not the key question. The issue is this: Hillary Clinton is encountering increasingly negative poll numbers on the issue of trustworthiness and honesty. The aforesaid New York Times story may well cause these negative numbers to considerably worsen.
In the past, Bill and Hillary Clinton have handled crises of this nature by ignoring the story and demonizing the investigators as having political motives: e.g. Ken Starr, Trey Gowdy. They do not have that option in this case. The Clintons cannot ignore a story in the New York Times about a prospective criminal inquiry. Nor can they demonize two nonpolitical inspectors general.
I also have a gut feeling that the White House is out to sabotage Hillary’s presidential candidacy. Valerie Jarrett is first among equals in the Obama White House, and she is not exactly the president of the Hillary Clinton Fan Club. In the Sunday, July 26 edition of the New York Post, Michael Goodwin voices his suspicion that Valerie Jarrett was the source of the leak to the New York Times. I share that suspicion. (http://nypost.com/2015/07/26/hillary-has-a-dangerous-enemy-in-the-obama-administration/)
As I have written on this website before, I have a favorable of Hillary Clinton, resulting from my experience with her while she served as the U. S. Senator from the State of New York and I served as Region 2 EPA Administrator in the administration of George W. Bush. (http://politickernj.com/2014/08/my-republican-hillary-clinton-experience/)
I believe that the Obama White House appointed her as Secretary of State to keep her “in the tent” rather than run the risk of having her as a potent critic from the U.S. Senate. It’s unfortunate that Hillary accepted that appointment.
Hillary was a great U.S. Senator, and she would have been first in line to become the Democratic Senate leader, rather than Chuck Schumer, upon Harry Reid’s forthcoming departure from the U. S. Senate. That position would have been a great fallback job for her in case her presidential aspirations were unfulfilled.
If Hillary’s negative numbers on honesty and trustworthiness increase to a point where her candidacy for the White House becomes nonviable, expect both Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Senator from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren to seek the Democratic presidential nomination.
Biden will be the White House designated heir apparent to President Obama. He will also be the candidate of the center-left Democratic establishment, which views Elizabeth Warren as the reincarnation of George McGovern and a certain loser to any GOP presidential candidate in 2016.
Warren will be the candidate of the Democratic populist left. She will acquire the base being created by Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, an open socialist with even less general election viability than Warren. She will also appeal to those women Democrats who would view the fall of Hillary Clinton as an unjust anti-women rejection by the Democratic establishment.
All this portends a Democratic civil war if Hillary Clinton falls. This Democratic internecine conflict will occur at the same time as the members of the GOP establishment experience anxiety at the possibility of Donald Trump launching a third party independent candidacy for the White House. Both the Democrats and the Republicans are beset with nightmare scenarios as we approach Election 2016.
Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission under former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman.