Monday, August 1, 2016
Whitewater - Hillary's Forgotten Shining Moment
I am continuing my quest to debunk old Hillary myths, and one of the more interesting ones is the charge of Hillary's corruption involving the Whitewater affair. Now, the charge of corruption relating to Whitewater isn't new. In fact, it's never left the lips of Republicans for nearly a quarter of a century. What's new is how many people have lately been citing Whitewater as an example of Hillary's corruption when knowing next to nothing about it. Hell, people who lived and breathed political news in the mid-1990's knew almost nothing about why the Whitewater affair was so damned important.
So how can younger people a full generation later truly understand what the implications were?
Just what the hell was the big deal with Whitewater, anyway?
Several government investigations led by Republicans and dozens of books have scarcely made much sense of the Whitewater affair. But I will do my best to boil everything down into a nice, digestible blog post.
The whole thing began back in 1978, when Bill and Hillary Clinton began a business deal with their friends Jim and Susan McDougal to borrow some money and buy up some undeveloped land along the White River near Flippin, Arkansas. They would then turn it into subdivided vacation homes for snowbirds from cities in the upper Midwest who wanted to escape the winter snow and live seasonally where they could enjoy the warmer weather by rafting and canoeing. The project incorporated in 1979.
It went bust. Inflation rates increased, and interest rates soared to 20 percent. People could not afford to buy seasonal homes. So instead, the Clintons and McDougals decided to build one model home and wait for investment conditions to improve. They never did, at least not in time. Jim McDougal went into banking and set up Madison Guarantee Savings and Loan. But he was unscrupulous about his dealings, and eventually his investments went bust during the Savings and Loan crisis of the early 80's. The Clintons lost somewhere between $39,000 and $69,000 on their investment.
So, the Clintons played the real estate game and lost. Big deal, right?
Well, not exactly. On March 8, 1992, the New York Times published the story as told by Jim McDougal, who felt he had borne the brunt of the financial and legal fallout unfairly. Republicans began to smell an opportunity. Jim McDougal's savings and loan business was represented by the Rose Law Firm, where Hillary worked? Could be conflict of interest, there. Did state regulators in Arkansas let regulations slide in exchange for campaign funds from the McDougals? Did the Clintons properly pay taxes on the Whitewater investment business? The sharks began circling.
Then Vincent Foster committed suicide, and the scandal had a dead body to go along with it. Now, I already dealt with the suicide in a previous blog post, so I won't go into detail about how we know he truly did kill himself and why. But I will simply say that the event was a flashpoint with the media and the Republican opposition. From that point on, the Republicans would vice-lock themselves onto Whitewater like the jaws of a pit bull.
What followed was a complete mess that is utterly impossible to keep track of. Special prosecutor Robert Fiske and Whitewater Special Investigator Kenneth Starr both led investigations which cleared the Clintons. The Starr Report, in particular, laid out the facts for the Whitewater affair and several other scandals besides, including the incident where Bill Clinton couldn't keep it in his pants with Monica Lewinsky. For brevity, I will only deal with the aspects of Whitewater which pertain to Hillary Clinton. There are only two items.
First, was it a conflict of interest for the Rose Law Firm to represent the Whitewater Development Corp. when Hillary was an employee of that law firm? No. Because other attorneys handled that particular case, and Hillary was assigned other duties. Yes, one is taught in law school that it is the appearance of conflict of interest rather than actual conflict of interest which should be avoided. But this is a legal grey area, and this particular loophole was and is often used.
Documents pertaining to the Rose Law Firm mysteriously re-appeared in the Clinton's private residence two years into the investigation. Was Hillary being honest when she said that they were simply misplaced? The Star Report says yes. And before anyone rolls their eyes at this, bear in mind that the files were hideously disorganized. Many papers were filed haphazardly, and it is therefore not surprising that relevant legal documents turned up in the wrong box.
And regarding Hillary, that was about it. The most damning thing against Bill, besides his affairs, was the allegation that he pressured a man named David Hale into making an illegal loan of $300,000 to the Whitewater Corp. That turned out to be a lie. Hale was convicted of the illegal $300,000 loan, and Bill Clinton was never charged by Kenneth Starr.
That's really about it. Oh, lots of twists and turns happened between 1992 and 1998 regarding the Whitewater affair, but there are entire books dealing with that subject. The bottom line was that, after millions of wasted taxpayer dollars on a witch hunt against Bill and Hillary Clinton, no major indictments took place. Bill was brought up for a vote of impeachment for perjuring himself about his affair with Monica Lewinsky, but that vote was defeated. For most representatives in Congress, just having an impeachment proceeding brought up was enough.
What we cannot forget is that for Hillary, Whitewater was one of her shining moments! When the scandal was beginning to grow out of control, she held a marathon press conference at the White House beneath a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. It was April 22, 1994. She sat in front of the entire press corps, and challenged them all to ask her anything at all about the Whitewater business venture. She held her own, under fire, for over an hour, refusing to leave until all press questions were answered.
They were. They had all their questions answered, and then some! It was a truly golden moment where a woman stood up for herself and was heard loud and clear. Glass ceilings shattered that day. You can see the entire press conference here. It is perhaps THE moment when buzz of Hillary being a better potential president than her husband first began.
She did it again in January 26, 1996 when she testified before a grand jury regarding her investments in Whitewater. It was the first time a first lady had ever testified before a grand jury. Again, she held her own, keeping poised when constantly under fire.
You see, when critics say, "Whitewater!" they want you to think: "Hillary = scandal!" But the actual truth is that Whitewater is when Hillary was at her best, her brightest, and her most poised! When the special investigation into the Whitewater affair turned its attention to Bill Clinton's affair in the Oval Office, Hillary's approval ratings soared as the victim of a philandering husband.
The word "Whitewater" shouldn't be considered a scandal as far as Hillary is concerned! It should be worn like a badge of honor by every Hillary supporter out there!
But it probably won't be. I, for one, would be more than happy if the word were simply not tossed out there as though the accusation meant anything.