Bottom Stories of the Day

Daily Best of the Web   —   Posted on April 22, 2015

Bottom Stories of the Day

The following is an excerpt from OpinionJournal’s “Best of the Web” at WSJ written by the editor, James Taranto.

Bottom Stories of the Day

  • “New Conceal Carry Law Not Expected to Impact Capitol Security”—headline, WVMetroNews .com, April 20
  • “Asteroid Just Missed Earth on Tuesday”—headline, EarthSky .com, April 21

Gravity Check
Back in January 2014, the New York Times magazine ran a cover story called “Planet Hillary.” Oddly, the article itself, by Hillary Clinton beat reporter Amy Chozick, never mentioned the word “planet” and barely hinted at the astronomical metaphor; Chozick likened Mrs. Clinton and those around her to, among other things, a bridge, an onion, a tumbleweed, a hotel and a prison.

But the editors and the art staff just loved the planetary metaphor. The subheadline read: “The gravitational pull of a possible 2016 campaign is bringing all the old Clinton characters into her orbit. Can she make the stars align, or will chaos prevail?” The magazine’s cover featured a terrifying image of Mrs. Clinton’s face, disembodied and superimposed onto a sphere in varying shades of pinkish brown.

Eight more illustrations depicted various Clinton associates—sometimes with heads, but not spheres—orbiting either Mrs. Clinton’s head or text bubbles describing the group to which they belong. One set of orbiters was labeled “Frenemies” and includes “The Media” and ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos—the latter in an independent orbit, one assumes, because he was once a political operative for Bill Clinton.

More than a year later, and a few weeks after the revelation of her biggest scandal since she left the East Wing, Mrs. Clinton is still almost running for president, and she still has her media orbiters—not least at the New York Times, which today explains the meaning of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election in Israel:

Netanyahu’s victory in this week’s Israeli elections has reverberated through American politics, reinforcing Republican faith in the political wisdom of a hawkish foreign policy, worsening his relationship with President Obama, and energizing liberal critics of Israel’s government. But mostly it has complicated the life of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Why do bad things always happen to her? But we tend to think Mrs. Clinton is superfluous to the Times piece’s analysis, the gist of which is that the Democratic Party is increasingly divided between traditional supporters of Israel and anti-Israel leftists—a division heightened by President Obama’s increasing tilt toward the latter.

“Everyone is now going to have to pick a side,” Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street tells the Times, adding that Mrs. Clinton “would undergo ‘more and more pressure.’ ” From whom, her primary opponents? Only if anti-Israel sentiment is sufficiently widespread and intense within the party to produce a real primary challenge will Ben-Ami be proved right. For now, at least, there’s no indication of that.

It’s possible that further scandalous disclosures will weaken Mrs. Clinton sufficiently to provide an opening for a (perhaps anti-Israel) challenger or challengers. Reuters reported yesterday that Mrs. Clinton reneged on a 2008 “pledge to publish all the donors” to the Clinton Foundation “on an annual basis to ease concerns that as secretary of state she could be vulnerable to accusations of foreign influence”:

At the outset, the Clinton Foundation did indeed publish what they said was a complete list of the names of more than 200,000 donors and has continued to update it. But in a breach of the pledge, the charity’s flagship health program, which spends more than all of the other foundation initiatives put together, stopped making the annual disclosure in 2010, Reuters has found.

In response to questions from Reuters, officials at the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and the foundation confirmed no complete list of donors to the Clintons’ charities has been published since 2010. CHAI was spun off as a separate legal entity that year, but the officials acknowledged it still remains subject to the same disclosure agreement as the foundation.

Reuters further reports that during Mrs. Clinton’s tenure, contributions to CHAI from seven foreign governments were never reviewed by the State Department, as she had also promised.

The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, reports that while Mrs. Clinton was secretary, the foundation raked in “millions of dollars from foreigners with connections to their home governments”:

Some donors have direct ties to foreign governments. One is a member of the Saudi royal family. Another is a Ukrainian oligarch and former parliamentarian. Others are individuals with close connections to foreign governments that stem from their business activities. Their professed policy interests range from human rights to U.S.-Cuba relations.

All told, more than a dozen foreign individuals and their foundations and companies were large donors to the Clinton Foundation in the years after Mrs. Clinton became secretary of state in 2009, collectively giving between $34 million and $68 million, foundation records show. Some donors also provided funding directly to charitable projects sponsored by the foundation, valued by the organization at $60 million.

Mrs. Clinton’s “Loyal Henchmen”—we borrow the term from one of the Chozick star charts—have responded to the revelations about the foundation and her private email server by insisting that voters don’t care. That’s obviously not a substantive defense, but it’s more than wishful thinking. It is an effort to shame the media into ignoring the scandals, lest voters pay attention after all.

There are signs the voters are doing just that. Reuters reports “Democrats’ support is softening for Hillary Clinton . . . with many favoring an independent review of her personal email use when she was secretary of state”:

Support for [Mrs.] Clinton’s candidacy has dropped about 15 percentage points since mid-February among Democrats, with as few as 45 percent saying they would support her in the last week, according to a Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll.

Forty-six percent of Democrats favor an independent review of all of her emails “to ensure she turned over everything that is work-related,” and 41% support the House Select Committee on Benghazi’s efforts to force her testimony. Again, that’s 41% of Democrats in favor of a Republican-led congressional investigation.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that in a focus group of 10 New Hampshire Democrats, “even likely Democratic primary voters who are ardent Clinton supporters said they are closely following and are turned off by her handling of a controversy over her use of private rather than government e-mail while she served as secretary of state. And several said she should turn over her private e-mail server to a neutral third party for review”:

“She could have gone through and deleted anything she wanted,” said Dianne, 50, a homemaker. (Participants agreed to be recorded and quoted by their first names only.)

“It seems just like a lack of judgment to do that, and to—you—be the one deciding whose, what e-mails you’re going to delete or not,” said Alice, 60, a public health administrator. “If anything, she should have released everything and a third party can decide what’s relevant.”

“You have to be aware of how things appear to the public,” said Alethea, a 29-year-old financial planner.

Bloomberg also conducted a focus group with 10 New Hampshire Republicans, which found wide skepticism of Jeb Bush:

Some underpinnings of Bush’s general election appeal – his family’s legacy of political service, a perceived openness to liberalizing immigration policy and support of Common Core education standards – have led several likely Republican primary voters to conclude they can’t support him, and that there’s probably nothing Bush can do to change their minds. None said they’d back Bush if they were voting today.

Karen, 47, an interior designer said if Bush were the first in his family to run he might be elected. “After his father and his brother, I don’t think he’ll have a chance,” she said. Daphne, 23, a student, said that “if he was, you know, the only choice, then I’d vote for him” but otherwise there was “nothing” he could do to win her vote. “I don’t know,” she said. “I don’t like him. I’m not for him.”

Which may explain an odd Time headline we noticed yesterday: “Hillary Clinton Praises George W. Bush and the Art of Compromise.” Here’s the story:

“We’ve lost the essential role of relationship-building and consensus-building,” [Mrs.] Clinton told the crowd gathered in an Atlantic City, New Jersey convention center. “When I was in the Senate, I realized that I might be opposed to someone’s bill today, and working with that person tomorrow.”

“I did a lot of reaching across the aisle working with people who had a lot of political differences with me,” she said.

Clinton recalled the days after 9/11 when as a Senator from New York, she lobbied President George W. Bush in the Oval Office for aid to New York. “President Bush looked at us and said, ‘What do you need?’ And I said, ‘We need $20 billion to rebuild New York Mr. President.’ And he said, ‘You got it.’ I will never forget that,” Clinton recalled.

“If you don’t build relationships with people and all you do is show up to argue and show up to point fingers, you can’t get anything done,” she continued.

Our first reaction was to think this seemed like a swipe against Obama. But maybe she’s hoping to face Jeb Bush the November after next, and to beat him by reminding everyone of his brother.

(Note: “Gravity Check” is from a March 20 BOTW post.) For more “Best of the Web” click here and look for the “Best of the Web Today” link in the middle column below “Today’s Columnists.”