I admit that I’ve been trying to stay out of the increasingly bitter arguments between supporters of the two Democratic presidential candidates.
I’m not a fan of Senator Sanders, despite agreeing with most of his big picture political critiques.
On the other hand, I had some personal history with the Clintons during my reporting career, stemming back to my reporting on at least one part of what became known as the Asian fundraising scandal that grew out of Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. In fact, my first story after joining the staff of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin in 1993 was about the initial stages of an FBI investigation into the activities of a couple from Hawaii who had moved to the mainland to do fundraising for the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign. It gave me insights into the larger campaign and the insider relationships with the Clinton camp that were very unsettling. And although that’s somewhat ancient history, the experience leaves me less than enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Here are a few of the stories from that period.
The first published account of the links between former Hawaii
consultant Nora Lum and then-Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown, and
allegations of campaign fundraising abuses involving a company they
controlled, appeared in the Star-Bulletin in September 1995, months
before the issues broke in the national media. Nora Lum and her
husband, Gene, later became the first to be convicted in the
- Ex-islander “looted” Oklahoma firm, suit claims. Case involves
links to Clinton administration. Sept
- Ron Brown not involved, official says, but Commerce
Secretary’s son is company director. Sept
- Oklahoma company headed by ex-islanders linked to illegal
$15,000 campaign gift.
Oct 18, 1995
- Lums linked to golf course projects and contributions. Gene
Lum cited Fifth Amendment when questioned last year about $10,000
contribution to Gov. Waihee. Oct
- Isle woman part of campaign probe. Former resident Nora Lum
figures in a congressional investigation into ’92 finances.
Congressional investigators have renewed a probe of former Hawaii
resident Nora T. Lum, and a 1992 campaign project which she
- Lum’s windfall, Dem donations under scrutiny. A “no money
down” investment apparently yielded a windfall of $8 million or
more in just a few months for an Oklahoma company controlled by
Democratic contributor and fundraiser Nora Lum. Nov
And I recall how terrible it was to see President Bill Clinton take anti-progressive positions on criminal justice issues and welfare reform. At the time, it was argued that these positions were necessary to ward off even worse legislation that would otherwise have come out of the Congress. Perhaps. But it didn’t make it any easier to swallow Clinton’s pivot to the right.
So this year, I’m not enthusiastic about either Sanders’ “idealism” or Hillary Clinton’s “realism”.
I know that I’m far from alone in feeling the fact that there were really no more than two potentially viable candidates is unfortunate. Hillary really was successful at sucking up political resources very early on, leaving other potential rivals with little to work with.
There’s a disquieting sense that Clinton’s early insider organizing artificially limited the choices for Democratic voters.
And a friend recently shared his concern that this could very well backfire on the party before the convention. He agrees with the view that Clinton’s campaign will likely lead to the nomination, despite all her problems.
He summarizes his view in query aimed at Clinton: “Is it right to lose, or risk losing, the presidency because you feel entitled?”
He fears that her campaign could melt down if any one of the many bits of political baggage she carries suddenly blows up into a hot new public scandal.
Realistically, she’s not about to withdraw.
Equally realistically, Democrats need to ponder that “what if”…
Our friend believes there’s still a chance for Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren to step up if “drafted”…A brokered convention, perhaps, sidestepping both candidates?
And the campaign season marches on.