From living a lie to the constant rearrangement of reality – “for example, in 1997 HRC was pictured reading to sick kids. The problem: sick children don’t look that cute, especially those who are bald from cancer treatments or fitted out with tubes and such. The solution: replace the sick children with well versions belonging to the hospital staff. It worked beautifully” – to the repeated specification of reality. SAM SMITH*
(April 26) – I confess I’ve been a bit startled by all the trouble that Hillary Clinton has found herself in more than a year before she’s due to be nominated at her party convention.
Even the stupid Republican stuff – like the Benghazi incident – has gained a prominence you wouldn’t have expected if the Secretary of State had been, say, Bill Clinton. And the email controversy isn’t the sort of issue you would expect a clever politician to let come to the fore so easily and with so many bad answers.
But then as I thought about it more, I realized that there has been a noticeable difference in the way Hillary Clinton and her husband handle their curves and cons. HRC actually has a long history of not doing it all that well while WJC seems to get away with everything.
One theory I’ve come up with is that to be a really good hustler you have to have grown up around hustlers and see life as a perpetual con rather than an entitlement.
One of Bill Clinton’s early national cons, for example, was that he had been raised in a place called Hope.
One of Bill Clinton’s early national cons, for example, was that he had been raised in a place called Hope. The problem with this is that when he was seven years old his family moved to Hot Springs, a fact that rarely would get mentioned in the media.
Hot Springs is where Al Capone is said to have had permanent rights to suite 443 of the Arlington Hotel. Clinton’s stepfather was a gun-brandishing alcoholic who lost his Buick franchise through mismanagement and his own pilfering. He physically abused his family, including the young Bill. His mother was a heavy gambler with mob ties. According to FBI and local police officials, his Uncle Raymond — to whom young Bill turned for wisdom and support — was a colorful car dealer, slot machine owner and gambling operator, who thrived (except when his house is firebombed) on the fault line of criminality.
Living a lie
Paul Bosson, a Hot Springs prosecutor, put it this way: “In Hot Springs, growing up here, you were living a lie. You lived a lie because you knew that all of these activities were illegal. I mean, as soon as you got old enough to be able to read a newspaper, you knew that gambling in Arkansas was illegal, prostitution was illegal. And so you lived this lie, so you have to find some way to justify that to yourself and, you know, you justify it by saying, Well,’ you know, ‘it’s okay here.’”
As Clinton’s mother, Virginia Kelly once said, “Hot Springs was so different. We had wide-open gambling, for one thing, and it was so wide open that it never occurred to me that it was illegal – it really didn’t – until it came to a vote about whether we were going to legalize gambling or not. I never was so shocked.”
Going back the 1930s, Hot Springs represented the western border of organized crime in the U.S with the local syndicate headed by Owney Madden, a New York killer who had taken over the mob’s resort in Arkansas. Owney Madden was an English born gang member who had been arrested more than 40 times in New York by the time he was 21. Madden got the assignment from his boss, Myer Lansky. The plan for Arkansas was modeled on an earlier one in which Governor Huey Long opened a Swiss bank account into which the mob would put $3 to $4 million annually for the right to run casinos in the state. Lansky then moved to Hot Springs where he hired Madden, former operator of Harlem’s Cotton Club. According to one account, “The Hot Springs set up was so luxurious and safe that it became known as a place for gangsters on the lam to hole up until the heat blew over.” And Hot Springs was where Lucky Luciano was arrested and brought back for trial prosecuted by Thomas E.Dewey.
The claim to entitlement
Now compare this with Hillary Clinton’s childhood as described in Wikipedia:
Hillary Diane Rodham … was raised in a United Methodist family, first in Chicago and then, from the age of three, in suburban Park Ridge, Illinois. Her father, Hugh Ellsworth Rodham, was of Welsh and English descent; he managed a successful small business in the textile industry. .. As a child, Hillary Rodham was a teacher’s favorite at her public schools in Park Ridge. She participated in sports such as swimming and baseball and earned numerous awards as a Brownie and Girl Scout. She attended Maine East High School, where she participated in student council, the school newspaper, and was selected for National Honor Society. For her senior year, she was redistricted to Maine South High School, where she was a National Merit Finalist and graduated in the top five percent of her class of 1965.
When you consider the pair’s subsequent history it’s becomes clear that while Bill was a street hustler and, as Senator Bob Kerry said in 1996, “an exceptionally good liar,” Hillary dealt with her crises as though they were a challenge to entitlements resulting from all her achievements. Thus those who questioned her activities were “haters” or part of a “vast right wing conspiracy.”
To be a victim of a conspiracy against you and your husband is one thing; for it to become vast seems somewhat narcissistic.
Her hyper-self assessment led her at one point, Brian Wiliams style, to claim on New Zealand television that she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary. At the time of Mrs. Clinton’s birth, Edmund Hillary was an unknown beekeeper.
This was not the only time this sort of thing happened. In 2009 the Times of London reported:
Hillary Clinton . . . was back in Belfast last week, giving a gentle push to politicians dragging their heels over a final piece in the peace process jigsaw. But according to the Sunday Life newspaper, during a speech she made to the Stormont parliament, she said that Belfast’s landmark Europa Hotel was devastated by an explosion when she first stayed there in 1995.
The Europa, where most journalists covering the decades-long conflict stayed, was famed as Europe’s most bombed hotel, earning the moniker “the Hardboard Hotel”. However, the last Provisional IRA bomb to damage the Europa was detonated in 1993, two years before President Clinton and his wife checked in for the night. The last time the Europa underwent renovations because of bomb blast damage was in January 1994, 22 months before the presidential entourage booked 110 rooms at the hotel.
Mrs Clinton told assembled politicians at Stormont: “When Bill and I first came to Belfast we stayed at the Europa Hotel . . . even though then there were sections boarded up because of damage from bombs.”
And describing her visit to Bosnia, she said, “I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport but we just ran with our heads down to get in the vehicles to get to our base.” After archive news footage was shown of her walking calmly from her plane with her daughter, Hillary Clinton admitted: “I did mis-speak the other day”
Thus it is not surprising some questioned other claims such as:
- She played pickup basketball when she was young
- Telling New York voters that she had been a Yankees fan when she lived in Chicago.
- Telling upstate New York voters that she had been a duck hunter.
The constant rearrangement of reality
And then there has been the constant rearrangement of reality. For example, in 1997 HRC was pictured reading to sick kids. The problem: sick children don’t look that cute, especially those who are bald from cancer treatments or fitted out with tubes and such. The solution: replace the sick children with well versions belonging to the hospital staff. It worked beautifully.
And the repeated specification of reality
Then there is the repeated specification of reality such as reported by Laura Myers in the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
Hillary Rodham Clinton likes to travel in style. She insists on staying in the “presidential suite” of luxury hotels that she chooses anywhere in the world, including Las Vegas. She usually requires those who pay her six-figure fees for speeches to also provide a private jet for transportation — only a $39 million, 16-passenger Gulfstream G450 or larger will do.
And she doesn’t travel alone, relying on an entourage of a couple of “travel aides,” and a couple of advance staffers who check out her speech site in the days leading up to her appearance, much like a White House trip, according to her contract and supporting documents concerning her Oct. 13 speech at a University of Nevada, Las Vegas Foundation fundraiser.
…. Documents obtained by the newspaper show that she initially asked for $300,000 and reveal that she insists on controlling every detail of the private event, large and small, to ensure that she will be the center of attention.
“It is agreed that Speaker will be the only person on the stage during her remarks,” according to the May 13 contract the Harry Walker Agency signed for Clinton’s keynote address at the Bellagio.
According to her standard speaking contract, Clinton will remain at the event no longer than 90 minutes; will pose for no more than 50 photos with no more than 100 people; and won’t allow any press coverage or video- or audio-taping of her speech.
The only record allowed will be made by a stenographer whose transcription will be given only to Clinton. The stenographer’s $1,250 bill, however, will go to the UNLV Foundation.
The foundation, meanwhile, is prohibited from advertising the event on radio, TV or billboards. Mail and website ads are allowed, although Clinton staffers must approve in writing any promotional material. One unhappy UNLV Foundation official in an email complained of “meddling” after Clinton’s agency edited a description of the annual dinner to “dumb it down.”
And Clinton’s demand for approval of all website material before it hits the Internet prompted a UNLV Web designer to grouse in an email that it seems “assbackwards in my mind.”
According to a May 31, 2013 email, Clinton’s standard contract usually includes… Hotel accommodations selected by Clinton’s staff and including “a presidential suite for Secretary Clinton and up to three (3) adjoining or contiguous single rooms for her travel aides and up to two (2) additional single rooms for the advance staff.”
The best defence to criticism – a plea to higher ideals
And there is a long history of treating criticism not with countering facts but as if it were a personal affront to someone above such criticism.
During the 1992 campaign, Hillary Clinton defended her role in the Madison Guarantee S&L scandal by saying, “I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas. But what I decided to do was pursue my profession, which I entered before my husband was in public life.”
Forgotten, however, is what inspired this homily: accusations that Ms. Clinton had represented Whitewater business partner Jim McDougal’s S&L before her husband’s government. Here’s what the New York Times reported on March 17, 1992:
“Hillary Clinton said today that she did not earn ‘a penny’ from state business conducted by her Little Rock law firm and that she never intervened with state regulators on behalf of a failed Arkansas savings and loan association. . . “
Records would show that she did, in fact, represent Madison before the state securities department. After the revelation, she says, “For goodness sakes, you can’t be a lawyer if you don’t represent banks.”
Finally, there is a curious indifference to how others might respond to her concealing information. For example, long before her 5,000 missing emails cropped up, in 1996 she talked to Jim Lehrer on PBS News Hour about the problem:
JIM LEHRER: Are you keeping a diary? Are you keeping good notes on what’s happened to you?
HILLARY CLINTON: Heavens no! It would get subpoenaed. I can’t write anything down. (laughing)
JIM LEHRER: So well, when it comes time to write this book, you’re just going to sit down and try to remember all this?
HILLARY CLINTON: I have tons of, you know, schedules and information and all that stuff, but you know, there’s been a real crimp put in history by these absurd investigations that have gone on where people, you know, don’t even want to, you know, say I had dinner last night with–because if you say that, the person you had dinner with is likely to get called before some committee somewhere.
She added that her comments would be used to “go after and persecute every friend of mine, everybody I’ve ever talked with, everyone I’ve had a conversation with. ~ It’s very sad.”
Which may explain why she had to pay Barbara Feinman $120,000 to ghostwrite It Takes a Whole Village, albeit without credit and even claiming in the preface: “It takes a village to bring a book into the world, as everyone who has written one knows. Many people have helped me to complete this one, sometimes without even knowing it. They are so numerous that I will not even attempt to acknowledge them individually, for fear that I might leave one out.”
The thing that all these tales have in common is that a really good hustler would have done it far better. Mixing ego and con just doesn’t work well. Which is why Hillary Clinton finds herself in so much trouble so early in the campaign.
I know her husband hasn’t been all that faithful, but maybe in such matters, he could give her some good advice.
Source: Undernews, online report of the Progressive Review.
*Sam Smith, editor of The Progressive Review for 49 years, covered Washington under nine presidents, wrote four books, been published in five anthologies, helped to start six organizations (including the DC Humanities Council, the national Green Party and the DC Statehood Party), was a plaintiff in three successful class action suits, served as a Coast Guard officer, and played in jazz bands for four decades