In 1992, an obscure Arkansas governor came out of nowhere to defeat blander and more mainstream candidates using a combination of dirty tricks and bravado. Campaign books like Joe Klein’s Primary Colors put it down to brilliant and ruthless tactics, but the key ingredient in the rise of Bill Clinton is the same one putting Anthony Weiner, another member of the Clinton Mafia, ahead of the pack in the New York City mayoral campaign.
Scandal. Notoriety. Publicity.
In a field of charisma-less establishment figures like Jerry Brown, Tom Harkin and Bob Kerry, men who seemed to have been born in politics and died in politics and kept on running undead for office out of sheer habit, he stood out. And what really made Bill Clinton stand out was the name recognition that his scandals gave him.
Gennifer Flowers should have buried the prospects of any presidential candidate. Instead she gave an unknown politician a national forum to ply his brand of fake sincerity and self-righteous promises of having finally learned the error of his ways. He hadn’t of course, but like Weiner’s scandal, the fame it gave him propelled him to victory.
The next eight years treated the country to a series of Clinton sex scandals culminating in impeachment proceedings. And the party may only be getting started.
While Huma Abedin, Hillary’s Brotherhood aide, uses Clinton contacts to propel her husband into Gracie Mansion, more sex scandals are gathering around Hillary Clinton.
A State Department whistleblower has claimed that Hillary’s people covered up multiple scandals, including the sexual abuse of minors by an ambassador who donated money to Hillary and Obama, as well as sexual assault and sexual harassment cases worldwide. And then there are the reports that Hillary’s security detail routinely hired prostitutes on international diplomatic visits.
Even as Hillary prepares to run for the White House by using her time as Secretary of State to remake her image as that of an international diplomat, rather than the woman who stood by Bill and lied for Bill because it kept her close to the center of power, the scandals suggest that she filled the same role at the State Department that she did in the White House—covering up the peccadilloes of powerful men.
But it’s no longer just Bill Clinton she’s covering up for. Hillary has gone from covering up the sexual offenses of her husband to covering up the sexual abuses of her underlings and her campaign donors. Hillary Clinton has not achieved anything on the diplomatic front, but she has shown that she is willing to cover up even worse things than Bill did for anyone who can offer her money or whose actions would reflect badly on her political ambitions.
Back in New York City, Huma Abedin, her closest adviser and aide, has taken on the same task, with a Weiner standing in for a Clinton. Huma made the same bargain that Hillary did, marrying a politician who can do the campaigning that she can’t and letting him carry her onward to higher office while she assures voters that he really is a family man.
But the scandals haven’t entirely left Hillary alone. In the merry month of May, the National Enquirer claimed that Hillary’s upcoming book would reveal her lesbian affairs. June’s National Enquirer reports on the State Department sex scandals and features Hillary and Huma Abedin on the cover, reviving the old rumors that their relationship is more personal than professional.
The revelation that Bill and Hillary and Anthony and Huma are in a four-way fake marriage would be a spectacular piece of Scandal Theater, even by Clinton standards, but the expectation that it would take down the respective candidacies of Weiner and Hillary might be wishful thinking. Indeed the revelation of such an affair might be the only thing that could save the Hillary 2016 campaign.
Hillary’s great challenge is her blandness. Like the apparatchiks of his own party whom Bill Clinton swatted in the primaries on the way to the White House, no amount of fake trendiness can disguise her standing as a perpetual government employee.
Hillary Clinton began her political career while in college and has never stopped crawling up the ladder of big government. Her political connections are vast but her political appeal doesn’t exist. Playing the scorned wife got her into the United States Senate, but couldn’t get her past a younger version of Bill with an even more exotic leftist bait resume than Oxford or Vietnam War draft dodging.
Gennifer Flowers got Bill Clinton through the Democratic primaries and into the White House and Huma Abedin may be the only thing that can get another Clinton into the White House. Hillary’s advisers have been urging her to cut ties with Bill. They argue that letting her be defined as Mrs. Clinton, the woman who played the obligatory supportive wife role for a philandering politician, makes her unelectable. And they’re probably right and wrong at the same time.
Bill Clinton is Hillary’s best asset, but he’s also the glass ceiling that limits how high up she can go. Reinventing herself as Huma’s girlfriend would make for months of headlines and months of sympathy. The entire mess would be ghastly and tawdry, and just like the Jodi Arias trial millions would tune in, watch and take sides. And a Post-Bill Hillary would emerge out of the ashes with a new pantsuit and a new identity.
There’s no way to know whether Hillary will take that route. It would be a big gamble and she isn’t a big gambler. Bill Clinton may cheerfully roll the dice, but Hillary is more of a five-year-plan kind of politician, preparing for the campaign she thinks that she will have to run, while getting blindsided by the actual campaign that she encounters.
Bill Clinton introduced himself to American voters with a sex scandal. Will Hillary Clinton follow that venerable Clinton political tradition and reintroduce herself to American voters with her own sex scandal?
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