Plausible Deniability

Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign

By Tim Baldwin and Joe Carbonari

Tim Baldwin

A New York Post author recently wrote about Hillary’s “pay to play” scandal: “Unless you’re a high-ranking government official, it’s hard to get a meeting with any secretary of state. But during Hillary Clinton’s tenure, there was another way: pay up.” So how does Hillary’s less-than-honest reputation affect the election?

Bernie Sanders became popular partly for his reputation for honesty. Clinton is a stark contrast and is right in the middle of appearances of impropriety. The notable “pay to play” scandal is only a highlight. Naturally, Clinton denies this was her intent.

While plausible deniability works well for politicians, ordinary citizens are denied this privilege. Every day, our governments prosecute people on circumstances suggesting criminal intent. Montana statute defines knowingly: “a person acts knowingly with respect to conduct or to a circumstance … when the person is aware of the person’s own conduct or that the circumstance exists.” Definitions of intent apply harshly to ordinary citizens, but elite politicians avoid not only prosecution but eligibility for high office.

Regardless, Americans will vote for Clinton. Many of them are diehard Democrats. Others simply hate Trump. Like Americans who will vote for Trump because they hate Clinton, presumably millions will vote for Clinton because they Trump. Our next president may simply be the least hated of the two. Caveat: unless Gary Johnson is allowed to enter the debates, in which case, millions may abandon both Clinton and Trump.

Joe Carbonari

The problem with Hillary Clinton is that she is not perfect. She suffers from being subject to human nature, but is reluctant to admit it. Take her emails. She wanted privacy; she got unending scrutiny. Why not just say it was a bad idea, poorly thought through, take her lumps and move on? That she could survive. Losing the trust of the people, however, makes it hard to lead should she win. This does not serve our country well, though I hasten to say that she still is preferable to the alternative.

We, the people, shouldn’t expect perfection either. Life constantly presents us with the necessity to determine and to accept the best of imperfect alternatives. We compromise. We do not expect perfection. We weigh and accept risks.

Take the conflicts of interest associated with political pay-for-play. Influence is power, but access is required. That’s what networking is about. You can work your way in or you can buy your way in. Buying your way in is quicker. The Clinton Foundation, unfortunately, has provided an open door. The causes it advances are laudable. Its works are worthy of support, but it must not be the will call window for political favors. It is unseemly. It is time to close the door on this one.

We will continue to court those in power, and we will continue to grant access to those that we know and trust, but good sense should guard the door. Discretion is required.