by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Based on recent presidential campaign history, Byron York argues in the Washington Examiner, Hillary Clinton’s potential electoral foes have every reason to re-examine her record as secretary of state, U.S. senator, and even first lady of the United States … and Arkansas.
Of course Clinton’s recent experiences are relevant to a presidential run. But so are her actions in the 90s, the 80s and even the 70s. It’s not ancient history; it reveals something about who Clinton was and still is. And re-examining her past is entirely consistent with practices in recent campaigns.
In the 2012 presidential race, for example, many in the press were very interested in business deals Mitt Romney made in the 1980s. In the 2004 race, many journalists were even more interested in what George W. Bush did with the Texas Air National Guard in 1968, as well as what John Kerry did in Vietnam that same year. And in 2000, a lot of journalists invested a lot of time trying to find proof that Bush had used cocaine three decades earlier.
So by the standards set in coverage of other candidates, Clinton’s past is not too far past.
That’s especially true because there will be millions of young voters in 2016 who know little about the Clinton White House. Americans who had not even been born when Bill Clinton first took the oath of office in 1993 will be eligible to vote two years from now. They need to know that Hillary Clinton has been more than Secretary of State.
Those voters need to know, for starters, that Mrs. Clinton once displayed incredible investment skills. In 1978 and 1979, when her husband was attorney general and then governor of Arkansas, she enlisted the help of a well-connected crony to invest $1,000 in the highly volatile and risky cattle futures market. Several months later, she walked away with $100,000 — a 10,000-percent profit. Cynics thought the well-connected crony who executed the trades might have paid her the profits from good trades and absorbed the losses from bad ones, but Mrs. Clinton insisted that she developed her investing acumen by reading the Wall Street Journal.
New voters also need to learn about Mrs. Clinton’s checkered history as a lawyer and the game of hide-and-seek she played with federal prosecutors who subpoenaed her old billing records as part of the Whitewater investigation. After two years of defying subpoenas and not producing the records, she suddenly claimed that they had been in a closet in the White House residence all along.