THE CLINTONS–A CASE STUDY IN WHY AMERICANS CAN’T TRUST POLITICIANS
A REVIEW OF CRISIS OF CHARACTER & OTHER THOUGHTS ON BILL, HILLARY, AND WHY AMERICANS CHOOSE TO BELIEVE THAT POLITICIANS REALLY CARE ABOUT THEM, EVEN WHEN THEY DON’T
AFTER EIGHT YEARS OF “W” AND EIGHT YEARS OF “O”, WHAT COMES NEXT?
Over the past few years, I’ve heard more than a few friends say that countries get the leaders they deserve. This aphorism has gained more poignancy during the second term of Barack Hussein Obama. Conservatives were already skeptical to begin with, but even liberals have grown disenchanted with the man who promised “change we can believe in” and “the audacity of hope”. While progressive Americans found some things to appreciate (like Obamacare and the triumph of the Gay lobby overcoming “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the military), the failure to bring the Iraq and Afghanistan wars promptly to a close as well as the inability to close Guantanamo and resolve the issue of terrorist detainees (who are now permanent residents of the United States) has left most champions for social justice realizing that the problem in America isn’t one that either party has the capacity to solve. In fact, what has been amazing is how most conservatives and liberals alike have joined together to challenge the astonishing intrusion into the private lives of ALL Americans. The NSA (National Security Agency which used to be known as “No Such Agency”) stampedes liberties and rampages out of control capturing data on every phone call and text message. Has any of this spying on Americans been slowed down? We have no way of knowing. Goodness knows, we can’t trust anyone in the government who might attempt to assure us that it has. The only thing more sure nowadays than government surveillance is misleading statements to fool the public into believing the government “has got our back”.
In short, Americans don’t trust their government. That is why Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have had such an amazing run during this political season. The “establishment” stinks. Republicans and democrats politicians alike are not to be believed. And Congress scores no better than our imperial president. In fact, Congress grows worse. Love him or hate him (and I am no fan), Obama does things. Even if he is still righting the wrongs of former administrations (from his far left point of view) like visiting Viet Nam, deploring our bombing of Hiroshima in front of the Japanese, or reestablishing diplomatic relations with communist Cuba, the American Congress on the other hand can’t accomplish much of anything. Most of us cheer when someone in frustration yells out, “Fire’em all!” IN fact, congressmen now appear to become roadblocks to getting our house back in order.
When the People (with a capital “P”) have finally come to challenge the status quo, the establishment pushes back. Career politicians seek ways to nullify democratic processes–we saw this plainly in the primaries this year. The vote for Donald Trump was historically strong, setting records for getting the vote out. But Republican leaders fret over Trump’s presumptive nomination and continue, as this post is written, to connive ways to overturn the choice of the people. In a slightly different regard, but along the same lines, Hillary beat Bernie, but her victory rang hollow. State after State, chose Bernie over Hillary. If not for the “Super Delegates” added to the popular primary vote that was almost split 50/50 overall, Hillary might have lost. The Super Delegates – a bunch of old cronies that are rewarded for their political services with the boon dongle of going to the Party’s convention — amount to an unassailable means to disenfranchise new voters and keep the same of stuffed shirts in place.
Both sides talk of the process being rigged. Party leaders deny that the process is any different than it ever was (the primary voters select delegates not candidates–and maybe the delegates shouldn’t have to vote the way the public wants them to). So here we are, after 16 years of mostly unsatisfactory federal leadership, wondering “what comes next?”
Do we elect the world greatest egotist with a penchant for making outlandish statements that his aides have to quickly walk back, or one of the most disingenuous and corrupt politicians ever to run for the office of the President? That is the choice we have before us. Ultimately, the decision has to be made. American voters must decide what it is that really matters to them when they vote. Is it the politician’s public image? Is it personal popularity based upon how they look, what they say and how they say it? Or is it for pledges for policies they plan to enact, and whether what they promise in the way of new policies they have the wherewithal to make happen?
It is my supposition that looking at the Clintons, both Bill and Hillary, and their history in the White House from 1993 to 2001, might be very pertinent to making the best choice among the two candidates we will most likely have before us come November.
A PRESIDENCY HANGING ON A BLUE DRESS
It only took me a day or two, but I finished an informative book that I hope many will find the time to read. It tells the tale of what the White House was like when Hillary and Bill were there. The book has just come out. It’s entitled: Crisis in Character: A White House Secret Service Officer Discloses His Firsthand Experience with Bill, Hillary, and How They Operate. It might get a lot of attention. It should.
Gary Byrne is one of those famous but nameless guys we don’t remember. We reckon that such a person played an important role at one time. We may even recall the circumstances just not the name of the character that was so vital to the story. Gary Byrne was the Secret Service officer who did his best to keep Monica Lewinsky from destroying Bill Clinton’s Presidency. He became a central witness in the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Monica Lewinsky is a name that we won’t ever forget although we should. Gary Byrne is a name we will never recollect while his name ought to be remembered. He served this nation in many capacities and deserves credit for his loyalty and bravery. His story, except for the remarkable situation he found himself in, should be told but otherwise wouldn’t be. However, because he happened to see Bill and Hillary firsthand during the “Lewinsky Affair”, his witness is one to which we do well to pay attention.
Some goals are just impossible to accomplish. Try as he might, Bill just had too many mistresses to manage–either by him or his staff. Officer Gary Byrne tried to keep Monica away from Bill. He recognized Miss Lewinsky for what she wanted with the President. He blocked her entry. After numerous encounters between the two of them, Officer Byrne was able to work with another director at the White House to get Monica transferred to the Pentagon. Byrne thought he had solved the problem, but Lewinsky was irrepressible. And Bill always had time for Monica. The affair was all the rage inside the White House. The permanent staffers were stressed and upset about Bill’s many affairs, not just with Lewinsky but with others that were involved in his frequent trysts. Bill couldn’t overcome his overwhelming drive to chase skirts. And virtually no one was willing to try to stop what was happening.  Hillary wasn’t oblivious–she didn’t care what Bill did. It was clear she and Bill had an agreement. Clinton Inc., was their political association. Their sexual pursuits were something they managed separately. That was not part of their “deal”.
Eventually, the “messing around” got out of hand. Bill started getting his calendar crossed-up, and had his many mistresses run into each other or wait their turn to get into to “see” him. This was when the writing on the wall became all but obvious for everyone to see. Monica got upset that she was not his “main squeeze” and Linda Tripp, who was spitefully observing what was going on, decided it was time to take Bill Clinton down. Monica’s famous soiled blue dress, evidence of what had occurred between she and Bill, had escaped the premises and would eventually lead to Bill’s impeachment. It became record that Bill lied too many times, perjured himself, and signed false affidavits. Gary Byrne was witness to all of these incidents and became the star witness in Ken Starr’s case against Bill Clinton. Says Byrne in his book’s introduction:
Out of a sense of loyalty to our First Family I even secretly disposed of sordid physical evidence that might later have been used to convict the president. The blue dress wasn’t the only evidence of his misdeeds. But I could not keep from asking myself how our nation’s leaders could be so reckless, so volatile, and so dangerous to themselves and to our nation. And yes, to me and my family. Only under federal subpoena— and later a ruling by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist— did I reveal to Ken Starr’s prosecutors the true story of President Bill Clinton’s false testimony and misstatements. 
But despite these impeachable offenses, the Senate did not have the gumption to find him guilty. Bill’s charm along with the Federal Government’s unwillingness to admit that its chief executive officer could really treat his office with such disrespect, led to a failure to convict. Bill would get away with his many indiscretions–despite the fact that that were monstrous and became destructive to those who worked for him in the White House. He was such a good guy–so charming–so friendly and eager to spend time with visitors. How could he do the country such a grand misdeed to harm the Office of the President and weaken the Federal government by his selfish philandering? He could and he did.
BLACK HAWK DOWN
One particular story stands out from Byrne’s “inside baseball” information that characterized the amateur as well as arrogant nature of those surrounding the President. And it points out that if the President isn’t doing his job, listening to the right people, and paying attention to the Nation’s business, people get killed on his watch. The matter was the incident we have come to know as Black Hawk Down.
Byrne overheard a discussion among Clinton’s top lieutenants leading up to the event. It demonstrates what happens when civilians without military experience and respect for those who put their lives on the line, in harms’ way, start making decisions without having any depth of experience. Byrne tells us about this situation:
I vividly remember Secretary of Defense Les Aspin, George Stephanopoulos [ABC host of GOOD MORNING AMERICA, advisor Rahm Emanuel [now mayor of Chicago], and others convening about an operation in Mogadishu, the Somali capital. Though all of this was way over my pay grade, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The three walked outside the Roosevelt Room into the hallway in front of me at my Oval Office post to reiterate what they had just discussed. “They don’t need tanks,” Stephanopoulos insisted, as if the request was absurd and excessive. “Yeah, they don’t need…” they agreed, listing the military’s supposedly excessive requests for AC-130 gunships, armored personnel carriers (APCs), and other equipment. “We don’t want to look too militant,” someone said. I was stunned. How does a military look too militant? It was bizarre. Somewhere in the chain of command the decision was purely political, they agreed based on “branding,” and they were meddling heavily with the military. I knew from my Air Force days that no one would even see an AC-130 gunship in the sky— it’d be too high. I had no idea what caused their resistance to armored personnel carriers or if some even knew the difference between an APC and a tank. Their nonchalance in disregarding a military request made me very uneasy. “Yeah, there’s no reason for that,” they kept reaffirming. “It’s just a simple in-and-out.” 
And of course, it wasn’t so simple. On October 3, 1993, 160 Americans engaged with thousands of Somalis in Mogadishu. 18 Americans would die, 73 would be wounded, and no less than 1,000 somalis would be killed. Byrne recalls what happened later, at a ceremony to celebrate the bravery of those soldiers and award medals, two of them posthumously.
Randy Shughart and Gary Gordon, two Delta operators, won posthumous Medals of Honor for taking the initiative to secure one of the Black Hawk helicopter crash sites until Rangers could reinforce them. They knew the risk. They saw the enemy closing in before they even landed. At the White House during their Medal of Honor ceremony, the father of a Delta operator became unglued, furious that he was to receive the Medal of Honor from President Clinton, who in the father’s words was too cowardly to accept a draft to the Vietnam War at the behest of the president at the time, Lyndon Johnson. He believed President Clinton unworthy to bestow the award on his late son. His wife apologized to me and the other officers for her husband. But we felt the same way. “Ma’am, you don’t have to apologize. We completely understand. Take as much time as you need,” I told her as I allowed them a buffer of privacy from the press. 
HILLARY AND HER TEMPER TANTRUMS
What is most relevant and indeed key to the timing of the book’s release, is that Byrne talks about Hillary and her normal modus operandi–screaming at the staff. Byrne stresses that her candidacy for President is really why he could no longer hold his peace. Officer Byrne wants to make real sure we understand the nature of this candidate and what her Presidency would mean to the country.
Byrne relates that when she and Bill were together in front of an audience, they’d hold hands and play the part of a loving couple. When they were separate, they often held each other in contempt. At the outset of his book, Byrne tells us that Hillary once gave Bill a black eye and threw a vase at him. But most of the accounts he shares are her belittling tirades towards anyone that so much as looked cross-eyed at her. Perhaps the most tragic incident in this respect was the case of her personal aid, Vince Foster. To say the staff walked on egg shells around her wasn’t the half of it. Foster apparently was literally driven to suicide by Mrs. Clinton:
Fear reigned among her staff. It made it impossible for them to say no to her. It paralyzed their decisions, and in the end, it created disastrous consequences. I mostly saw Vince Foster in the hallways. He was Mrs. Clinton’s personal attaché, a lawyer from Arkansas. Word circulated that she berated him mercilessly. The first time I saw Foster I figured he wouldn’t last a year. He looked uncomfortable and unhappy in the White House. I knew what it was like to be yelled at by superiors, but Mrs. Clinton never hesitated to launch a tirade. Yet her staffers never dared say, “I don’t have to take this shit!” They reminded me of battered wives: too loyal, too unwilling to acknowledge they’d never assuage her. They had no one to blame but themselves, but they could never admit it. She criticized Foster for failing to get ahead of the constant scandals, for cabinet positions not confirmed, and for the slowness of staffing the White House. Foster eventually took his own life in Fort Marcy Park. In his briefcase was a note torn into twenty-seven pieces, blaming the FBI, the media, the Republicans— even the White House Ushers Office. A rumor circulated among law enforcement types that contended his suicide weapon had to be repaired in order for the forensics team to fire it since it wouldn’t function for them. Maybe his final shot misaligned the cylinders and later prevented contact with the bullet primers. But that, along with many other public details of the case (carpet fibers on his suit coat, etc.), made his case spooky. The last lines of his sparse suicide note read: “I was not meant for the job or the spotlight of public life in Washington. Here ruining people is considered sport.” 
The scandals associated with Hillary and Bill always seemed to be squelched. Few recall some of the interesting things the Clintons did. Several merit our scrutiny once more. This one was interesting. They used the FBI as their personal private investigators to dig up dirt on political opponents:
Around 1993, I befriended the FBI liaison to the White House, Gary Aldrich. Everyone at UD liked Aldrich— even if he was FBI. The Secret Service agents had their normal interagency chip on their shoulder for him, but his stories about interacting with the Clintons were rich. He was basically the ambassador between the lauded and revered Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Clinton’s Executive Branch. For the Clintons, the lines between government and politics were always blurred. “I keep having to tell them,” he’d confide in us, “‘ we’re not your private investigative service over here. We’re the FBI.’” Aldrich’s hunched posture betrayed those frustrations, as though he’d grown weary of throwing up his arms, shrugging his shoulders, and shaking his head while exclaiming, “We just can’t conduct these inquiries and checks on whomever they wish— even if they are working for the president!” He’d look at us, hoping for a shared sense of disbelief. We’d mirror his look of astonishment and humor. If was as if he was asking for confirmation of his own sanity in a crazy world. We knew the feeling all too well. “They can’t just run a check on someone because they want more info on them,” Aldrich would tell us. “It’s not a good enough reason. And then I have to hear from my people that they’re going over my head and contacting others at the FBI directly. It’s like, ‘C’mon guys. [We’re] just trying to help you.…’”
Eventually the matter became a matter of public record:
In June 1996 Aldrich’s predicament became public knowledge when the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee discovered that the White House Office of Personnel and Security had requested the FBI to conduct more than nine hundred illegal background checks on its political opponents, many of them former Reagan and Bush appointees.  [Emphasis added]
And there was the Hillary’s effort to conspire with author (and one time FOX NEWS consultant Dick Morris) to undermine Bill’s chief of staff, Leon Panetta. Byrne confides:
Morris was essentially a Republican (he’d worked for GOP Senate leader Trent Lott). The Clintons snuck him in by night— never by day when Panetta was there. We didn’t quite comprehend that Hillary was undermining Panetta, and we certainly couldn’t insert ourselves into these mysterious visits to sort out their true meaning. Morris (the Clintons called him Charlie to hide his visits), Bill, and Hillary met frequently, mostly in the Executive Residence, though once Bill and Morris met alone in the Oval Office. It all translated into Dick Morris’s functioning as President Clinton’s shadow chief of staff, blindsiding Leon Panetta on issues Panetta thought had previously been decided. “Over the course of the first nine months of 1995, no single person had more power over the president,” George Stephanopoulos later concluded of Morris. Hillary could not readily intrude on her husband’s official meetings with Panetta, but she could easily participate at these intimate, secret sessions with Morris. Her true power was of the night— not the daylight. Increasing Morris’s power meant increasing her power. But these hush-hush meetings weren’t so much about governing as they were about branding and politics and polling— and Dick Morris and Hillary Clinton were masters at that game. 
But my personal area of greatest concern has to do with the death of Chris Stevens and the so-called Benghazi attack of September 11, 2012 in which six Americans were killed. Hillary was then Secretary of State and she concocted a story to tell the public when she knew what was actually going on. Assesses Byrne:
U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and State Department Foreign Service officer Sean Smith should never have gone to Benghazi— and shouldn’t have stayed once they got there. We were woefully unprepared at every single angle to protect them. We created a classic soft target and didn’t bother to think, What if? When U.S. Global Response Staff (GRS) had to bail everyone out of Benghazi in September 2012, Secretary of State Hillary shifted blame from Islamic terrorism and the Obama administration’s deadly lack of foresight to American freedom of speech and an obscure YouTube video. 
He continues with his assessment (which mirrors mine very closely):
And here’s what everyone missed: Benghazi shattered military and federal law enforcement morale. We all wondered, Will they come for us if we’re attacked? Will they stand by us? Does “no man left behind” mean a damned thing? Will they even tell the truth after I’m gone? How do I explain Benghazi to my children? How do I use Hillary Clinton as a role model in leadership? It drives me mad, so I don’t. I shake my head. Let’s say it straight out: Hillary Clinton lied about the reason for the Benghazi attack. She lied about it to the nation as a whole and she lied right to the faces of the grieving family members of those who died there— and then lied about her lying. And she keeps telling Americans one huge, disgusting lie after another. As I wrap up writing this book, Hillary has claimed that we “didn’t lose a single person” in Libya. Really? Try telling that to the families of the four men we lost on September 11, 2012. Not too long before Mrs. Clinton committed that amazing, bizarre falsehood, the late Sean Smith’s mother, Pat, broke down on national television, exclaiming, “Hillary is a liar! I know what she told me.” Pat went on to say that she wanted to “see Hillary in jail” for her misdeeds at Benghazi. “She’s been lying. She’s turned the whole country into a bunch of liars.” Two decades ago the late New York Times columnist William Safire wrote: “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.” 
As Byrne wryly concludes: “The lies change. The liar doesn’t.”
Americans want to believe that their government tells the truth. They want to believe that politicians really do care about us, the voters. The story of Bill and Hillary as told by Gary Byrne is NOT the most incriminating story that can be told. No doubt the truth behind the influence peddled through the Clinton Foundation to foreign governments is THE story that deserves to be told. But the details of that one may be lost on the public. It might get to be too technical and we, the public, might just assume that this is what all politicians do. They use their political office to get rich–regardless of the legality or whether it’s what’s best for the nation.
The media remains enchanted with Hillary and Bill. And the political machinery (from both parties mind you) continues to support them without so much as a hiccup. Even the Congressional report released just this week on what really happened at Benghazi including Hillary’s role there, contributing to the deaths of four Americans, was downplayed by the mainline media. “No story here” despite what congressmen and women stated when interviewed. The White House and the State Department were at fault. The Pentagon stood down because of the political direction (or lack thereof) they received.
Reaction from various sources to the book itself are, as expected, critical. The tactic is always to “make the story about the storyteller, not the tale told”. A few reactions:
Business Insider: Byrne Is “Struggling To Explain Holes In His Story.” Business Insider reporter Maxwell Tani wrote that “Byrne is having a hard time explaining some serious discrepancies in his account” about his “role during the investigation into President Bill Clinton’s affair with then White House intern Monica Lewinsky. … a closer examination of Byrne’s testimony revealed more disparities.” [Business Insider, 6/29/16]
Wash. Post: “There Are Reasons For The Media To Be Cautious About Amplifying Byrne’s Claims.” Washington Post reporter Callum Borchers noted that “Byrne’s book has, indeed, received scant attention — and what little coverage it has gotten from the likes of the New York Times has been largely negative and dismissive.” Borchers added that that’s “not to say for certain that these events did not happen, but it’s not hard to see media outlets viewing it as Byrne passing off old gossip as first-hand experience” and noted contradictions in Byrne’s previous testimony about his White House experience. Borchers then concluded that the book “might be racking up sales, but there are reasons for the media to be cautious about amplifying Byrne’s claims. And that’s precisely the approach they’re taking.” [The Washington Post, 6/29/16]
But the story that Byrne tells is consistent with many other accounts of the former First Couple. And his story seems tame compared to most accounts about what happened in Mena, Arkansas long before the Clintons became residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Is it enough to make most Americans more than weary of letting Hillary Clinton get anywhere near the Oval Office again?
Will Americans care? When Hillary debates Trump, will his unpolished rhetoric be any match to hers? Will his claims regarding her corruption fall on deaf ears? Will his statements which so often sound fascist if not downright ignorant condemn us to another Clinton Administration? Or is there a chance that the FBI will bring their investigation to the Attorney General and the AG will elect to indict her? (Just today, July 1, the AG, Loretta Lynch said she would go with the FBI recommendation). Given the way things work in Washington these days, my personal opinion is that an indictment that would take Hillary out of the race for President has about the same chance as a snowball living a long life in Hades. Americans want to believe their politicians care–and in this regard Hillary couldn’t do a better job keeping up appearances. Perhaps my somewhat cynical friends are right: We do get the leaders we deserve.
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By Wisconsin Mom on February 18, 2015 Format: Paperback
Doug Woodward presents the pertinent history that led up to where we are today, shows us the dangerous parallels to another time, and how we are repeating history. He shows us many layers under the surface, and fI ills in a lot of blanks in our awareness of what is happening.
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