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Home arrow American Politics arrow The Role of Chance in Hillary Clintonís Presidential Prospects by Steve Jonas
The Role of Chance in Hillary Clintonís Presidential Prospects by Steve Jonas PDF Print E-mail
March 4, 2015


On the morning of June 18, 1815, it rained in what would become, in 1830, Belgium. A chance event. Napoleon Bonaparte, triumphant in his "100 Days," felt that he had to wait for the ground to dry before launching his main assault against the Duke of Wellington's men. Had that not happened, Napoleon might well have achieved his aim of destroying the British force before they could get organized and before their main supporting Prussian force could arrive later in the day. Thus, the outcome of the battle that has been famous since that day might have been such that it would have been more of a footnote to the history of Napoleon's re-establishment of his Imperium than the metaphor for his final defeat. But it did rain. 



On July 18, 1969, Mary Jo Kopechne was attending a party that Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was giving on Chappaquiddick Island, MA, just off Martha's Vineyard.  It was for the "boiler room girls," veterans of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy's 1968 Presidential Campaign staff. The official story is different, but what really happened, according to an eyewitness whose name must of course remain confidential (and apparently will forever) is as follows. Rather intoxicated, Ms. Kopechne left the party, went to Sen. Kennedy's car, curled up in the back seat and went to sleep. Later, Sen. Kennedy, rather inebriated himself, left the party with another young lady (destination unknown), made that famous wrong turn and drove off the bridge. Neither he nor his passenger were aware of the presence of the sleeping Ms. Kopechne. If they had been, they presumably would have pulled her out of the car when it went into the water. Like "Waterloo," if it had not rained, and/or if Sen. Kennedy had been aware that Ms. Kopechne was in the back seat, "Chappaquiddick" would simply have become some long-forgotten footnote to history. 



On June 18, 1972, as I usually do to this day, I scanned the front page of The New York Times. I noticed a secondary lead about a break-in that had occurred at the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate complex in Washington, DC. I had known of Richard Nixon and his political thuggery since he ran his first red-baiting campaign for Congress against the totally unsuspecting, mild-mannered, five-term Representative Jerry Voorhees in Southern California. "Nixon's behind this," I said to myself. 



Well, yes. But the word "Watergate" never would have entered the vocabulary nor would its third syllable have been applied to so many scandals since that time, if by chance, a security guard had not noticed tape applied to several door locks in the complex. Frank Willis simply removed the tape and took no further notice, the first time around. But then retracing his steps about an hour later, he noticed that the locks had been re-taped. At the point he called the police. Some months later, once James McCord sent his letter to Judge John Sirica in the spring of 1973, the unraveling began. Had Frank Willis not noticed the tape, twice, or had G. Gordon Liddy's and E. Howard Hunt's grounds men not been such incompetent burglars, Nixon would have finished his term and the word "Watergate" would simply have referred forever to that particular building complex. But chance did play the role it did. 



So why am I telling, re-telling these stories? Because all of a sudden, a chance event might come around to derail Hillary Rodham Clinton’s up-to-now apparently free ride to the Democratic Presidential nomination.  And if the Republicans nominate anyone other than JEB Bush, even with their massive voter-suppression drive they will be rolling out for 2106, she would have had a fairly free ride to the Presidency.  But then chance plays a role in history again.  Hillary, apparently without giving it too much thought, decides to follow the Colin Powell example and not set up a .gov email account at State.  That’s a chance occurrence, a flip of the coin.  Hillary’s sense of entitlement probably had a role to play on the decision, but if she had given it any serious thought at all, she most likely would not have gone in that direction.

This was not a chance occurrence in the sense that rain at the town of Waterloo in 1815 was.  But given the apparently off-hand way that she made the decision makes it “chance-i-full” (if I may be given the privilege of making up a word).  If she had given it any serious thought at all, and consulted with either a State Department attorney or one of her own, it is hardly likely that she would have gone in that direction.  (That she is also an attorney is true, and perhaps she consulted only herself.  But there is that old saying, “the lawyer who represents oneself has a fool for a client).  And so, perhaps being so busy that she did not want to go through the fuss and bother of setting up a .gov account, she went he own way.

In my view, her candidacy is already derailed.  It really doesn’t matter what the legalities are.  (And it is just wonderful to see David Brock of Media Matters jumping to her defense with an apparently correct legal defense.  After all, Mr. Brock was the leader of the offense against the Clintons all through the 1990s.  I do have to say on most issues, especially those dealing with the Propaganda Channel, Media Matters under his leadership does a great job.)  The Repubs. have never cared about legalities when dealing with opponents, especially those they hate viscerally and just want to destroy, and HRC certainly falls into that category. 

Exhibit One?  Just what they have done with “Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi,” despite seven (?) investigations, including one from the GOP-controlled House Foreign Affairs Committee that showed that there was no way the killing could have been prevented (except for Stevens and his men not to have been there) and no White House/State Dept. cover-up of what happened.  As for what really happened, neither side is talking about that one.

And so, the Clinton team will be arguing legalities, and to the-contrary-notwithstanding her Repub./Rightist-talk-show opponents will wipe the floor with, “She broke the law. She’s hiding things. She’s a security risk. She’s a typical always-a-Clinton scandal [despite the fact that the only real one was Monica Lewinsky]” and so on an so forth.  She may want to try to struggle through this.  She may want to hope that it will just go away.  But her enemies will make sure that it doesn’t.  Just like “Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi” the Repubs. and the Rightist talk show world will absolutely not let go of it, whatever the legalities and the finer points of what The New York Times included in its articles are.  For 2016, she’s toast and the sooner she realizes it and gets out of the race, the better it will be for both the Democratic Party and the nation.

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