Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Hillary, revisited

In a typically incisive essay yesterday, "The Clintons -- At the End of All Things" (National Review), Victor Davis Hanson twice referred to Hillary as "amoral." His use of that word reminded me of an essay I wrote several years ago on that very point. Since then, as recently as today, our characterization -- amoral -- has been proved correct time after time. My essay -- "Hillary Clinton: Immoral or Amoral?" is reprinted here:

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Sunday, May 19, 2013


Hillary Clinton: Immoral or Amoral?

During her recent Congressional testimony about the notorious Benghazi Affair Hillary Clinton uttered the now infamous rhetorical question “What difference, at this point, does it make?” Note my emphasis on the word “it.” In the context the question was asked and answered Clinton’s “it” referred at least to the murder of four Americans, and probably the State Department’s antecedent failure to provide adequate security and the White House’s subsequent stonewalling cover-up. 


In other words — according to the former First Lady, United States Senator, presidential aspirant, Secretary of State, and putative 2016 democratic party presidential candidate — it made no difference that the government of which she was then a high-ranking member exposed Americans to high-risk danger, left them defenseless in a hotbed of terrorists, made no effort to rescue them, literally watched them being murdered, and then tried to cover up apparatchik  malfeasance by lying through officialdom's teeth to the people of the United States.


“What difference?” indeed.
But beyond what has become obvious about Clinton’s and her colleagues’ betrayal of the deceased Americans and the rest of the government’s malfeasance, the Benghazi Affair reveals something even more sinister.
Over the years, some of Hillary Clinton’s questionable conduct has not involved issues of morality. She has been a poseur, playing the role of victimized, yet forgiving, wife during the Lewinsky scandal. She has been a hypocrite, castigating George W. Bush for warrantless surveillance but using purloined tapes to her own political advantage. She has been a paranoid, complaining to the world about the alleged “right wing conspiracy.” She has been a conniver, ousting career White House travel office employees in favor of her cronies. She has been a dilettante, presuming to make over America’s health care system. 
While this conduct, and much more like it, has been unseemly and at odds with the dignified and trustworthy image that had been projected by modern-era First Ladies from Bess Truman to Laura Bush, none of Hillary Clinton’s conduct raised serious moral questions.
On the other hand, Clinton has done many other things that have raised serious questions of immorality (immoral defined as “not in conformity with accepted principles of right and wrong behavior; contrary to the moral code of the community” [Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language (13th ed.)]; in other words knowing, but disregarding, principles of morality).

Mrs. Clinton authored a brief reeking with fraud while a staff lawyer for the Watergate Committee. She was a beneficiary of illegal commodities transactions that turned her a large profit.  She fraudulently stung lenders in the Whitewater land scheme. She bought votes and campaign contributions with criminal pardons issued by her husband. She lied about Chinese contributions to her political campaigns. She participated in slandering and intimidating women whom her husband sexually and otherwise abused, and was complicit in covering up his salacious conduct. She blithely desecrated the presidency by selling the Lincoln Bedroom to donors and celebrities. She stole furniture and furnishings from the White House. And much more, including her recent complicity in the murder of four Americans in Benghazi and the attempted cover-up of the entire sordid affair. All immoral conduct.
There’s more, but to elucidate all of it would be to gild the lily. Hillary Clinton’s immoral conduct— rationalized by her adherence to the “Rules for Radicals” promulgated by her mentor Saul Alinsky — has been detailed on the public record for decades, especially since her abortive campaign for the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 2007. 
At that time, I raised the question of whether Clinton’s decades-old questionable character traits and corner-cutting conduct demonstrated that she was merely immoral or, worse: Whether she was amoral—and whether there’s any important difference between the two concepts.
The answer is that there is a difference, a profound one, and with Hillary Clinton’s eye on a 2016 presidential nomination it’s crucially important for the future of the United States of America that the voters of this country understand it.
I begin with the concept of “morality” itself, one which Americans instinctively understand.  Rooted in fundamental notions of “right” and “wrong,” most Americans know (or knew!) that it’s right to pay our bills and protect our loved ones; that it is wrong to defraud creditors and abuse children. It’s immoral to buy votes, lie to investigators, release terrorists for a political quid pro quo, attack the defenseless, steal from the White House — all conduct Hillary Clinton was a party to — as well as to engage in countless other actions which, by anyone’s definition, must be characterized as immoral.  That this prospective candidate for the presidency of the United States has acted immorally time and time again is clear beyond any legitimate disagreement.
But what about amorality?—defined as “being neither moral nor immoral; specifically: lying outside the sphere to which moral judgments apply; lacking moral sensibility . . . .”  (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (10th ed.); emphasis in original.)

A person who is amoral does not accept any moral standard by which her conduct is to be judged by othersShe simply does not care about the concept of morality, about right or wrong, in what she thinks, says, or doesMorality does not apply to such a person. What difference, at this point, does it make?” could well be such person’s mantra.

 Thus, the questions arise: Does all of Hillary Clinton’s dubious conduct over the course of decades reflect a simple, garden-variety immorality—knowing but eschewing the right, and deliberately doing the wrong? Or does Alinsky’s acolyte — the leading candidate of the Democrat Party for the presidency of the United States — at root care nothing for morality and deem it to have no application to her? Is Hillary Clinton amoral?

Her record (let alone her character) leaves no doubt about the answer.  Yet Clinton and her supporters ask: “What difference, at this point, does [morality] make?” 

To ask the question is to answer it.