Clinton fans are scrambling to defend the former Secretary of State and damn her accusers following the publicizing by the New York Times of excerpts from an upcoming investigative volume, Clinton Cash, in which Peter Schweizer raises questions about the coincidences of foreign donations to the charitable Clinton Foundation. The Times emphasized the timing of big donations by a Canadian uranium company in the process of being bought out by a Russian company, the process requiring American approval because the company controls some U.S. uranium resources. These donations, say Schweizer and the Times, were not properly reported by the Foundation, and beg the question of their intent to facilitate government approval of the sale. More revelations, or at least more questions, will follow the publication of Schweizer's book next week.
For Republicans and Clinton-haters across the ideological spectrum, the big question is whether donations to the Foundation bought influence with the State Department during Clinton's tenure. Because Schweizer is a Republican, a former GW Bush speechwriter and adviser to Sarah Palin, and the author of some polemical works in the past, Clinton loyalists would have us dismiss his every word as a smear and the author as part of the famously vast right-wing conspiracy against the Clintons. No doubt Clinton Cash is a hatchet job, intended to undermine her presidential candidacy, but what follows from that? We can assume a lot about right-wing hacks, but we can't assume that this book is just a big lie. Presume that Schweizer set out looking for dirt on Secretary Clinton. Does that fact itself prove that there is no dirt to be found? Tell that to all the hacks on the other side doggedly investigating all the Republican front-runners. Shall we dismiss whatever they may find about Cruz, Rubio, Paul or Jeb Bush -- not to mention what Schweizer himself is reportedly investigating about Bush? Certainly Schweizer can be suspected of putting the most negative spin possible on whatever facts he's uncovered, but as long as he's found facts we should be able to interpret them for ourselves without Clintonites or Democrats telling us what they mean. And if the best they can say now is "there was no quid pro quo!" then they're no better than the Republicans and right-wing donors they denounce so often, who can and do say the same thing all the time. If we have to depend on Republican hacks to raise such questions, that's only because Democrats lack the will to inquire and others to the Clintons' left haven't the access or the power. At a point in American history when someone can be anointed the presumptive presidential candidate of a major party nearly a year before anyone votes in a caucus or primary, these are exactly the questions to be asked between the time the candidate declares and the time the people vote. If we're going to make a presidential campaign season last so long, we may as well make the most of the time we're given, and if partisans feel now that only their ox has been gored, there's still plenty of time to learn more about Clinton's competitors. Do you doubt that we will? And if these revelations and questions about Clinton threaten so many people's dreams of a woman President in 2017, then draft Senator Warren or someone else more capable of standing up to the inevitable scrutiny, or else, as such people always say to those their left, put aside your idealist demands and put the people's interests first.