Hillary Clinton has been saying repeatedly that she has been completely vetted, and that all the mud that can be dug up about her has been thoroughly mined. Not so for Obama, she says, implying that he likely has still-lurking dirt that the Republicans will use to cripple him, and with him the Democratic chances to regain the White house.
It’s a persuasive argument. Bill and Hillary are seasoned street fighters who, for years, have had leveled at them an usually virulent brand of partisan hatred not to mention the work of an obsessed and extremely well-funded Special Prosecutor. But still they’ve survived. Even prevailed. Thrived. Whereas Obama has never been through a vicious, balls-to-the-wall, digging through one’s garbage national campaign of the sort that he will face if he is the nominee.
However, reasonable as it might sound at first, in the end the argument is false—and, for the Democratic party, extreme risky if the Dems don’t want to see a McCain presidency. (That is, of course, if McCain does indeed get the nomination, as the smart money suggests he will.)
The problem with Hillary’s I’m-vetted-and-he’s-not thesis is that, of late much seems to suggest that there is a treasure trove of Clinton secrets as yet unmined. In Sunday’s New York Times, Frank Rich is specific about several of the areas where people are already looking, one being the long list of big donors for the Clinton Library, a list that Bill Clinton has thus far been unwilling to make public:
Just before the holidays, investigative reporters at both The Washington Post and The New York Times tried to find out why, with no help from the Clintons. The Post uncovered a plethora of foreign contributors, led by Saudi Arabia. The Times found an overlap between library benefactors and Hillary Clinton campaign donors, some of whom might have an agenda with a new Clinton administration. (Much as one early library supporter, Marc Rich’s ex-wife, Denise, had an agenda with the last one.) “The vast scale of these secret fund-raising operations presents enormous opportunities for abuse,” said Representative Henry Waxman, the California Democrat whose legislation to force disclosure passed overwhelmingly in the House but remains stalled in the Senate.
The Post and Times reporters couldn’t unlock all the secrets. The unanswered questions could keep them and their competitors busy until Nov. 4. Mr. Clinton’s increased centrality to the campaign will also give The Wall Street Journal a greater news peg to continue its reportorial forays into the unraveling financial partnership between Mr. Clinton and the swashbuckling billionaire Ron Burkle.
At “Little Rock’s Fort Knox,” as the Clinton library has been nicknamed by frustrated researchers, it’s not merely the heavy-hitting contributors who are under wraps. Even by the glacial processing standards of the National Archives, the Clintons’ White House papers have emerged slowly, in part because Bill Clinton exercised his right to insist that all communications between him and his wife be “considered for withholding” until 2012.
And there’s more.
…Mrs. Clinton told Mr. Russert that “all of the records, as far as I know, about what we did with health care” are “already available.” As Michael Isikoff of Newsweek reported weeks later, this is a bit off; he found that 3,022,030 health care documents were still held hostage.
The bottom line is that, when it comes to the library donor list and other issues, Bill Clinton is behaving like someone with things to hide. So can Hillary really claim that she and her co-campaigner huz are thoroughly and safely vetted?
No. It appears not.
PS: While we’re on the subject of the presidential primaries, read Gregory Rodriguez Op Ed in today’s LA Times about Obama, the Clintons and the Hispanic vote.