Dear Secretary Clinton,
I and my wife are supporters. In fact, we financially supported your effort, me having maxed out and my wife nearly so in 2008, and we continue to financially support your effort this year, although because we’re now retired with less financial robustness. I tell you this to let you know that we’re on your side.
As a supporter, I am urging you to do that which you so far haven’t and no doubt hate to do – publicly and openly confront and put to bed the issues regarding your State Department emails, and now alleged conflicts of interest involving your family’s Foundation.
I have been involved in the study of and participation in campaigns throughout my life, and I’ve learned that in instances where a candidate’s actions or character are attacked there are two response choices: either to hunker down in the belief that the storm will blow over, or confront the issue head on.
Clearly you and your campaign have chosen the former. I get it. For nearly three decades, you’ve been the target of some of the most vicious allegations ever directed toward a person in the public arena. You have many enemies, even more than does your husband who was a two term president and who also withstood an impeachment trial. It’s no revelation that your husband has enemies, but to no level does he have the enemies that attack you. To put it another way, although he was impeached by the House and tried by the Senate, he was never accused of murder as you’ve been – once regarding Vince Foster and a second time, more recently, regarding the sudden passing of Mark Weiner.
Now that’s cold. And it’s no wonder you don’t want to engage in the daily exercise of political battle with those whose hate is so deep and so profound that they will never let go. I get that being in Theodore Roosevelt’s arena that has made you “marred by dust and sweat and blood” as a result of specious attacks delivered by those timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. But then you have entered that metaphorical arena of your own volition.
While many of the political and personal attacks have been delivered by knuckle-heads, recently arrived from Fantasyland, or Trumplandia if you prefer, the emails and Foundation attacks are different. These cut to the heart of your public performance as Secretary of State, coupled with the perception of public corruption.
Aside from the occasional denial or a brief public comment to the media, your campaign has decided to basically hunker down and wait for the storm to blow over. Aside from a brief meeting with the FBI in July, some of which has been either leaked or made public, you have said nothing. I’m certain that it hasn’t escaped your notice that after one year of constant speculation and comment on these “damned emails,” and statements by FBI Director Comey that you did not commit any offense meriting prosecution, the storm of this issue still rages. I know you’ve got a lot of smart people advising you on how to handle this so I have one question – exactly when do they think this will blow over?
Add to this is the whole ruckus about the financial contributions to the Clinton Foundation and allegations of play-for-pay. At minimum, these recent allegations plug into pre-existing narratives about how the “Clintons” (it’s always the “Clintons,” never just one of you) play by their own rules, that they engage in public service in order to enrich themselves, and that they always manage to escape responsibility because of…well, you get the idea.
There’s no evidence of wrong-doing mind you, but this stuff just won’t go away. The media clamors for answers from you and absent a response is free to speculate. And you know that any speculation of your actions will never inure to your favor.
You’re a lawyer, no doubt well aware of the definition of an adoptive admission. If, as I believe they are, these allegations are baseless, why not say so? Why not confront these allegations head on? To do otherwise is being viewed more and more as an adoptive admission in the only court that a person running from president should care about – the court of public opinion.
To put it another way, politics is perception, and in politics perception is reality. Your continued silence is being viewed more and more as confirmation that you have something to hide. And absent a direct comment, fielding questions by the media, the public is left only the accusations and speculations of those who mean to do you political, if not legal, harm.
This letter is being written with 70+ days left in the campaign. There’s much that can happen in that time frame. What happens if there’s a third allegation leveled against you and your family? Each layer of controversy only serves to validate the layers that came before.
Only you can put to rest the concerns of those who perhaps are not solidly wedded to your campaign. Those who are still undecided are less likely to move in your direction over the next two months without an assurance by you that there is no substance to the allegations levied against you.
As someone who has also been in a public arena, albeit differently than you, I have learned that the best way to deal with an attack on your actions and character is to meet them head on. Any occupant of the arena knows that s/he will be bloodied. The only question about this is how to respond? I think the best way is to confront the allegations and those who make them, head on.
The key thing to understand is that if you’re in the arena, you’re going to take a beating. The key question is how you take that beating: either passively, waiting for the opponent to tire; or actively, making a defense and controlling at least part of the action and narrative? You are doing the former; you should do the latter.
You can take little solace from the fact that you’re still “winning.” In this election, you are running against the living physical manifestation of an existential political evil. Every minute spent by the media reporting on your issues and lack of response is a minute not spent on your opponent’s glaring lack of knowledge, political competence, along with his personal and business character. And we both know that there’s enough there to consume the next two months, sending this evil to oblivion on November 8.
We both know that the first question posed to you on September 26 will be either about the emails, the Foundation, or both. You’re going to get it, with another month of non-response baked into the political atmosphere. By sitting down with members of the press, you can at least change the arc of that first question, if not effectively take it off the table.
In this election cycle, as much as people are looking for programs and policies to better there lives, they are also looking for political and personal accountability and transparency. Without the latter, the impact of the former – no matter how well thought out they are – will be reduced with the public.
And you’re good at meeting allegations head on. Remember your response to assertions that you benefited by several financial dealings involving commodity investments and the famous Whitewater “scandals”? You put yourself in front of the press and told them that you’d be there until there were no more questions. Aired on four networks, people got to see you, your body language, and your demeanor. They heard your responses and most determined that those scandal could be relegated to the dustbin of history.
And who could forget your attendance before Trey Gowdy’s Bengazi committee? Eleven hours of testimony and responses to questions coming at you from all angles, and you didn’t even break a sweat. When it was over, Gowdy basically cried the political equivalent of “uncle.”
In both instances, you were able to demonstrably show that when it came to the allegations against you, there was no “there there.” You have to do this one more time for yourself, for your supporters, for those who you seek to convince before the election, and most of all for those who you seek to lead beginning on January 20, 2017.
Only you can dispel the clouds hovering over your campaign and possibly over your administration. From what I’ve seen you’ve got the facts on your side, you’ve got the ability to handle these allegations, and to do so now can pave the way to election day. Sure you will take some hits and you might be bloodied a little but which would you rather do; mend a bloodied nose or die of a thousand paper cuts?
I choose the former and urge you to do so, too.