sometimes said I hurried through schoolwork and made foolish,
easy-to-catch-and-correct errors. Now older by far and wiser, I'm still
not beyond carelessness.
Too often I've said: "I hate incompetence, especially my own!"
But it's a matter of scale.
The terrible presidents we've had since 2000 share many backward, fundamentalist, opportunist, and nationalist inclinations, and each owes his presidency to carelessness on the parts of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Sad but true, because I believe the Clintons otherwise are excellent public servants—not perfect but toward the better end on the bell curve of politicians.
Vice President Al Gore was a shoo-in to succeed President Clinton until the latter's interludes with Monica Lewinsky (a wronged woman if there ever was one) were revealed in January 1998.
Before his White House affair, citizens were generally happy with Clinton, even though the right wing continually tried to bring him down for earlier philandering and his involvement in a commercial real estate failure known as "Whitewater."
Clinton's evasive, untruthful comments about his side romance gave Republicans hope they could force a Democratic president to resign or be removed from office, exacting revenge for Nixon's humiliating 1974 exit.
Ultimately "nearly $80 million" in taxpayer funds were spent by Republicans in "probes of the Clinton Administration" according to a cnn.com story published on April Fools' Day.1 No prosecutable criminal conduct was discovered, but he was impeached by the House of Representatives. Though acquitted in the Senate, the flames of scandal roared until he left office in January 2001.
Gore received the largest share of the 2000 popular vote but lost by five in the Electoral College. Without President Clinton's 24 months of dalliance-fed negative press, it's likely Gore would have won. But the victor was Bush who brought real trouble to the country, from presiding over a slide into the worst recession since the depression to sanctioning torture from the nation's highest office—a low point in our history.
Hillary Clinton was winding down as first lady in the spring of 2000 when she announced she would be a candidate for the New York Senate seat retiring Democratic titan Daniel Patrick Moynihan had held since 1977.
Her original opponent, former mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani, withdrew and his replacement, Long Island congressman Rick Lazio, lost to Clinton by a 12% margin.
She became Senator just as Bush entered the White House. Re-elected in 2006, Senator Clinton competed against Senator Barrack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 and lost. Showing no hard feelings, he appointed her secretary of state in 2009.
Obama's election was an enormous change for the better. The economy improved steadily; real estate started selling again; he turned a blind eye to marijuana decriminalization or legalization in Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and other states; institutionalized a major step toward a single-payer health care system with the Affordable Care Act; was a great role model, fit physically and mentally; and headed an administration free of scandal.
Clinton resigned as secretary of state in February, 2013; two years later, during a congressional inquiry into the murderous attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, it was revealed that during her time as secretary, she used a private e-mail server for official communications, some marked "secret" and "top secret." After an FBI investigation, Director James Comey stated Clinton was, "...'extremely careless' in handling her email system but recommended no charges be filed against her" according to a Wikipedia article.2
Despite the controversy, Clinton announced in April 2015 she would run for president in 2016. Bernie Sanders became her Democratic opponent the same month.
She weathered the e-mail disclosure though she was hammered continually for showing poor judgment. Her claim previous secretaries of state had processed e-mail similarly carried little weight with objective supporters—way less with fence-sitters—and why should it? Using others' mistakes to justify your own is no justification. It only made her look worse.
Some say her information technology advisors should have warned her that using a private e-mail server for official correspondence was unwise and, if discovered, certain to generate bad press and maybe more. It's startling no one on her state department staff was forceful in pointing out the risks, primarily to national security but to her reputation, too. Why not? Well, maybe some who reported to her did but were ignored. Or, maybe they kept quiet because they were afraid to upset the woman at the top. Perhaps it was a case of the empress wearing no clothes; fear might have kept them silent.