OUT OF THE WOODS: Clinton should finish with a bang, not a whimper
Hillary Clinton has time, even with only days to go, to “go bold” by strongly warning that a Donald Trump victory on Nov. 8 could plunge the nation into chaos; that we could face an historic constitutional crisis that will shake the very building blocks of our democracy.
This would help her rebut Trump’s shocking refusal to officially concede if he loses the election saying he would keep America waiting until he is ready, thereby threatening one of the time-honored traditions of peaceful transition in our democracy, that is, for the loser to concede as soon as all the ballots are counted, and challenges, if any, resolved.
She should stop running away from the press, come out and tell it like it is—that Trump and his undisciplined storm troopers will put our country at risk. Our democracy needs a shock to recover its equilibrium. A sober warning from the woman who should be president just might reawaken the conscience of an anxiety-ridden nation in dire need of really strong leadership.
This kind of unprecedented action by Clinton will require a lightning-fast turnaround. It won’t be easy. I can clearly recall when the first hard-hitting attack against Clinton’s honesty and trustworthiness was launched in the York Times 20 years ago.
Feb. 4, 1996 that Hillary Clinton “is a congenital liar.” With that introduction, she has become a significant part of the Clinton historical legend.
Safire’s observation, in full, read: “Americans of all political persuasions are coming to the sad realization that our First Lady — a woman of undoubted talents who was a role model for many in her generation — is a congenital liar.”
“Drip by drip, like Whitewater (a federal investigation by a special prosecutor which wound up breaking the so-called Monica Lewinsky scandal) the case is being made that she is compelled to mislead, and to ensnare her subordinates and friends in a web of deceit,” he wrote.
I talked with Safire at the time. He told me that he had no personal vendetta against Hillary Clinton but that he had been following her closely and for a long time and that his harsh conclusion was based on a series of well-documented incidents when she was first lady Pointing to examples of Hillary’s “mendacity” throughput 15 years of commodities trading, Travelgate and Whitewater, he concluded that “First Lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton, had a record of dishonest activities.”
Being an admirer of the Clintons at the time, I tried to punch holes in Safire’s story, but he held his ground. He had obviously built up a good enough case to come close to nearly slandering Hillary. All of my politically-varnished sentiment made little headway with him. I should have known better. Safire was always a skilled artist at planting daggers in politicians’ backs and enjoyed a solid reputation as an accomplished, clean hit man. Safire who, ironically, who was the same age as me, died in 2009 at age 79.
Since those long-ago days, Hillary Clinton has been involved in a number of personal dust-ups involving her keeping her word. Most recently, despite an eleventh-hour endorsement from her primary opponent, Vermont Democratic-Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders, Clinton was badly damaged by the fallout from FBI Director James Comey’s blockbuster announcement last July 1, in which Comey sternly rebuked her as being “extremely careless” in using a private email address and server in her home.
The scandal grew out of the surprise attack on Benghazi in Libya on the evening of September 11, 2012, when Islamic militants stormed the American diplomatic compound, killing U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith, among others. Stevens was the first U.S. Ambassador killed in the line of duty since 1979. Clinton subsequently took responsibility for what quickly turned into a major diplomatic embarrassment, which the GOP capitalized on dramatically. At the Republican convention, last summer, delegates loudly joined in an improvised chant in unison: “Lock her up!” or “Hillary for prison.” That refrain is still used by Republican Presidential nominee Donald J. Trump and repeated by large crowds cheering him on. On the other hand, at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, which immediately followed, Clinton boasted a highly-impressive resume that included her work as a young lawyer in behalf of children, former First Lady, and secretary of state for Barack Obama, during which she travelled to 112 countries covering more than one million miles. This is the Hillary Clinton we should elect as our 45th president of the United States.
Woody Klein is a Westport writer. His “Out of the Woods” column has run for 48 consecutive years in The Westport News. He can be reached at wklein11@ aol.com