Two of the most important qualities of a presidential candidate are integrity and good judgment. Unfortunately, both our nominees appear to be challenged regarding these attributes. Enough has been revealed about Donald Trump in the past year to more than disqualify him from the office of president. For me, the real issues are how the Democrats ended up with such a flawed candidate and why their back bench was so weak.
Hillary and Bill Clinton are master tacticians, and own the best donor lists in the country. I can only assume that they hoovered up the bulk of the money from Wall Street, Hollywood and Silicon Valley, thus neutering competitors. That would explain why all the Dems had to throw against Hillary was a would-be Sears catalog model/governor and a 73-year-old socialist. While Joe Biden continues to deny any interest in the presidency, I bet there are nights he lies awake wondering what might have been.
But it takes more than contacts and money to be qualified for the White House. People look for honesty and good decision-making too, and on those counts Clinton is suspect. Though she cited the need for convenience, some day we will learn the real reason why she chose to have her own cloistered email server on which she commingled private and State Department correspondence, and why she used an unsecured Blackberry to access email. In doing so, she ignored State Department directives and made her messaging vulnerable to hackers.
Given the long history of GOP "fishing trip" investigations of the Clintons from White Water to Filegate, I speculate that Hillary was trying to protect her correspondence from the prying eyes of her many political enemies. In 1998, she complained that a vast right-wing conspiracy was responsible for the never-ending inquiries. Many laughed at this level of paranoia, but one has to wonder why there have been 10 congressional committees formed to investigate Benghazi, a terrorist event that claimed four American lives at one location, as compared to only one joint congressional investigation and one commission investigation of 9/11, a terrorist event that claimed 2,996 American lives and 6,000 injuries at three locations. Oh, and 9/11 was also the premise for two wasteful wars that destabilized the Middle East for generations. Where's any sense of proportionality?
Nevertheless, Clinton showed poor judgment in setting up her private network and in not foreseeing that conservative groups like Judicial Watch would have a field day filing Freedom of Information Act lawsuits to get access to the email trove. They have yet to find any "smoking guns" that definitively prove she committed criminal acts or was hacked by foreign interests, but the drip, drip, drip of revelations just reinforces her poor judgment rap.
More troubling to me is her decision to warp the truth about so many aspects of this totally avoidable scandal. She said she didn't send or receive any emails that were "classified at the time." The FBI found 110 of them, though the method used by State to label documents as classified was certainly confusing. She said that her private server and email domain were permitted by law. Since 2005 it has been department policy to restrict electronic communications to government servers. She said all her emails were immediately captured by @.gov addresses which would guarantee that they'd be properly archived per government regulations. It wasn't until 2015, two years after Clinton left the State Department, that it began to automatically capture and preserve e-mails.
A final concern is the real possibility for corruption and conflicts of interest while she was Secretary of State and Bill was soliciting money from foreign powers for their Clinton Foundation. The fund has a stellar record in Africa training farmers in new agricultural techniques and in scores of nations for negotiating lower costs for drugs, including HIV/AIDS medicine. Although Hillary had promised President Obama that she would put an impermeable wall between the Department of State and the foundation, that wall has proven to be made of Swiss cheese. The latest release of emails reveals a steady flow of communication between State and the foundation, and confirms that Hillary met with donors. However, the collective sleuthing of the FBI, Associated Press and Judicial Watch has yet to find any examples of pay-to-play criminality.
Regardless, this appearance of sleaze contributes to Hillary's untrustworthy reputation and makes supporters anxious about the next email revelation. Drip, drip, drip.
Frank Batavick writes from Westminster. His column appears Fridays. Email him at email@example.com.