Some 40 years ago, a man called Thomas Alfred Taylor was accused of raping a child. The accused was 41; the victim was 12.
Taylor, for reasons obvious, wanted a ‘woman lawyer’ to defend him. He ended up with a rising star from Arkansas. Her name was Hillary D Rodham.
And she was quite the chicken hawk: Ms Rodham filed a motion to force a psychiatric test on the child. “I have been informed that the complainant is emotionally unstable with a tendency to seek out older men and engage in fantasising,” she wrote in her affidavit.
Ms Rodham then cited a child psychologist: that children in early adolescence “tend to exaggerate or romanticise sexual experiences and that adolescents with disorganised families, such as the complainant’s, are even more prone to such behaviour.” Since the kid was from the wrong side of the tracks, per the defence, she must have dreamt up the attack.
In the end, Ms Rodham proved Taylor right: she was a ‘woman lawyer’ par excellence. She bargained down the charge from first-degree rape to “unlawful fondling of a child”. Taylor was out in a year.
Lawyers reading this will undoubtedly shrug: in criminal law, you’re going to get criminals. Hillary, too, when it all came out later, took us back to law school. “I had a professional duty to represent my client to the best of my ability, which I did,” she said.
American attorneys are given far more freedom to refuse their clients than, say, English barristers, but it was a fair point: Ms Rodham was just doing her duty.
Only, Ms Rodham had the same view of the accused as the prosecution did — in audio clips from five years later, Hillary sounds an awful lot like her guy was guilty.
But that’s not what sticks — what sticks is, Hillary is laughing while talking about Taylor. Once, twice, three times, the young lady snorts and giggles about gaming the system in a child rape case. And Hillary Rodham’s laughter is far realer than Hillary Clinton’s.
“Of course he claimed he didn’t,” she says on tape. “All this stuff. He took a lie detector test. I had him take a polygraph, which he passed, which forever destroyed my faith in polygraphs, ha ha ha.”
What follows isn’t better. In a Southern drawl (since sacrificed to her Senate run), Ms Rodham tells us how she took the evidence — Taylor’s bloody underwear — to a forensic expert in New York. The expert said he could see a trace, but not enough for testing.
“He said, you know, ‘You can’t prove anything,’” Ms Rodham says. “[…] So I wrote all that stuff and I handed it to [the prosecutor] and said, Well, this guy’s ready to come from New York, to prevent this miscarriage of justice!” Hillary’s voice cracks, because she’s laughing again. “Got him off with time served,” she says around the tape’s end.
Forget that the 27-year-old future president defended a man she thought had raped a 12-year-old child. Forget that the feminist icon said a little girl had fantasised about her violation. Forget that the First Lady would follow a trend: later painting recipients of male sexual advances as “trailer trash”, “whiney women” and “narcissistic looney tune[s]”. It’s doable.
But try forgetting Hillary chuckling over child rape. The kind she got the guy off on.
There’s something surreal about this election campaign, thousands of miles away — with direct bearing on this place we call home. The press is already calling it the Year of the Hated: in the history of polling, no two frontrunners have been so despised.
Had all things stayed the same, Hillary was en route to hitting the lowest favourability ratings recorded ever — she was rescued by an orange circus seal that no one saw coming (yes, Trump scores lower).
And that’s 2016, or for that matter, the Clintons, in a nutshell. Since forever, voters have thrown in their lot with the creepy, sleazy Clinton couple because they’re not the Republicans.
But the Clintons aren’t Democrats either — that’s how they get elected. When he wasn’t renting out the Lincoln Bedroom (this isn’t a metaphor; Slick Willy actually put it up for Beltway fatcats), Bill doubled the prison population, unleashed Wall Street on the world, and expanded the death penalty to 60 new crimes.
In matters foreign, Bubba’s best remembered for bombing Sudan’s biggest anti-malaria medicines factory (leading to thousands of deaths), starving Iraq until it killed half a million kids, and whistling while Rwanda’s Hutus went in for the biggest genocide since World War II. “You can’t stop everything bad that’s happening,” he said.
But people vote for the Clintons only because they don’t want something worse happening.
The world knows Hillary’s compromised morally: she supported Bush’s brutality in Iraq. They know she’s compromised directly: she led Libya’s invasion, then forgot about it when the country split into three (she wrote 795 emails on Libya in 2011, and 67 in 2012).
They know she’s compromised financially: if you’re any kind of corporation, either you own La Clinton, or you pay her protection money. Those ponying up fat stacks of cash include Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, Fidelity Investments, Boston Consulting Group and — that Mount Kilimanjaro of greedy lizards everywhere — Goldman Sachs.
Pakistan, too, knows, from ideas, interaction, and experience, that Lady Hillary will be especially bad for the country. By this point, however, better the devil you know than the mutant you don’t.
And yet it’s Lady Hillary that people will vote for.
Because of Trump. The Party of Nixon and Reagan is led by a racist hairdo that makes menstruation jokes. Having wiped the right of anyone not resembling a zero-government cowboy, the GOP’s donors saw the party fall in on itself.
With the Democrats, the young still aspired to something. That Sanders, a socialist from Vermont, was able to sock the Clinton machine, is proof that democracy in America isn’t dead yet.
But it’s getting there. Mrs Clinton has synched the nomination, with a net approval rating of minus 16. So much for the Great Experiment.
And strip away the millions of Clintons — for and against immigration, for and against free trade agreements, for and against Iraq — and you get the same old Hillary D Rodham giggling on tape — ambitious, amoral, with ice water in her veins.
She’ll get there.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 22nd, 2016.
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