Bill Clinton’s personal conduct has exasperated liberals for roughly as long as his political success has exhilarated them. While some of them dismissed his get-together with attorney general Loretta Lynch as trivial, others saw it as yet another of his potentially damaging, impulse-driven unforced errors.
Esquire’s Charles Pierce called the meeting “stupid and reckless” and fumed, “For the second presidential campaign in a row, Hillary Rodham Clinton is afflicted with a husband who can't make a political move any more without breaking the china across the room.” Pierce added:
Now, we're going to have hearings into the "secret meeting," and everybody at the Phoenix airport including the baggage handlers and the day-shift crew at Cinnabon is going to get subpoenaed.
And you know what? They should. This would be bad enough if it were only the appearance of impropriety. This exercise in Mixed Doubles Stupid actually was improper.
What the hell were they thinking?
Longtime liberal commentator Jeff Greenfield doubts that anything “untoward” was said during the Clinton-Lynch conversation, but in a Daily Beast column he identified the meeting as part of “a decades-long pattern of behavior by both Bill and Hillary Clinton that goes a long way toward explaining why a hefty majority of Americans do not regard the likely next president of the United States as honest or trustworthy. It really does appear that both Clintons regard themselves as so removed from the grubby motives that tempt lesser mortals that they are to be judged by a wholly different set of standards.”
Greenfield implied that Bill Clinton has a bit of a persecution complex (bolding added):
During the Lewinsky affair, [he said,] “I feel like somebody who is surrounded by an oppressive force that is creating a lie about me and I can’t get the truth out. I feel like the character in the novel Darkness at Noon.”
He’s talking about Rubashov—the loyal Bolshevik purged by the Stalinists in Arthur Koestler’s classic novel. That comparison would have been apt—if Monica Lewinsky had been making up a phony story designed to damage his presidency. (That’s the story, by the way, the White House was preparing to tell until that blue dress turned up.) How is it possible for Bill Clinton to have thought himself such a victim unless he saw himself as a force for good, fighting against forces of evil?
Dylan Matthews of Vox wrote that it was “hard to deny” that on optics alone, the meeting was “a bad idea.” Like Greenfield, he touched on the idea of a persecution complex, but unlike Greenfield, sought to justify it:
It appears one lesson the Clintons have taken from their treatment in the press is that they will be unfairly attacked at all turns, and that trying to modify their behavior to minimize that is pointless.
Think about it: If you’d been accused of murdering a close friend of yours who killed himself, accused of corruption because you lost money in a real estate deal that went south, pilloried for nepotism when you were really trying to clean up a White House office where the FBI had found financial improprieties, and on and on and on, wouldn’t you feel like there was nothing you could do to prevent the media and Republicans from attacking you?...
…Maybe [Bill] did realize [meeting with Lynch] would look bad. But given how he and Hillary think about their treatment by the press, maybe he just didn’t care.