It will never end, will it?

Photographer: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Bill and Hill in 10 Talking Points

Francis Wilkinson writes editorials on politics and U.S. domestic policy for Bloomberg View. He was executive editor of the Week. He was previously a national affairs writer for Rolling Stone, a communications consultant and a political media strategist.
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Point One: Bill and Hillary Clinton are victims of a perpetual right-wing smear campaign, a highly personalized subset of a decades-long, coordinated and sleazy conservative crusade to discredit government.

Point Two: Bill and Hillary Clinton evade rules and skirt laws that others are required to follow. They seek to hide conduct that should be open to scrutiny, and intentionally evade accountability. When their improper actions are exposed, they invariably dissemble. Why did Hillary Clinton use a private e-mail system to keep thousands of e-mails off of her official secretary of State account? For convenience? Please. She was dodging the rules to try to keep her communications inaccessible to the news media and Republicans. Which meant they were also inaccessible to the public and history.

Point Three: The conservative campaign against the Clintons has been so vile and relentless that they are naturally defensive. For a quarter century, dishonest partisan media and opportunistic Republican politicians have twisted every Clinton word and action -- even non-action, as the fraudulent Benghazi "scandal" has made eminently clear. The mainstream news media has always allowed partisan attack dogs to set the terms of Clinton coverage. Why should the Clintons sit back and allow themselves to be torn apart? They have to protect themselves.

Point Four: Politics ain't beanbag, as Mr. Dooley pointed out. If the Clintons have really been subject to a quarter century of unscrupulous attacks, then surely they know that they need to be extra cautious about appearances. Why go money grubbing at Goldman Sachs before launching a presidential campaign? (Or why not donate the proceeds to charity? The Clintons, after all, are fabulously rich -- as a direct consequence of their public service.) Why approach the U.S. attorney general on a tarmac when the Justice Department is in the late stages of investigating your wife's e-mail habits while she was secretary of State? What is wrong with these people?

Point Five: Politicians aren't machines. They're human beings, with insecurities, neuroses, quirks and blind spots just like everyone else. In his prime, in case you've forgotten, Bill Clinton was the kind of politician who would walk the length of a football field to shake a stranger's hand. When he crosses paths with someone as prominent as Attorney General Loretta Lynch, he's not going to ignore her. He's going to reach out. That's who he is. As Lynch said, their conversation concerned grandchildren, travel, golf. (Explosive stuff.) Obviously, Clinton is not going to lobby the attorney general about his wife's case. That's ridiculous.

Point Six: A refresher on Bill's social appetites is, sadly, unnecessary. The Clintons have an uncanny habit of making themselves vulnerable to attack. It's their fault, not the system's. All of the same sick political dynamics that afflict the Clintons have been aimed at the current occupants of the White House. The paranoid style didn't take a vacation when Barack Hussein Obama showed up for duty. Yet Obama's presidency has been essentially scandal-free through more than seven years. By the time his administration concludes, it will almost certainly be among the least tainted in American history. If your enemies are unscrupulous and relentless, you have an obligation to yourself, your supporters and the nation to be above reproach. The Clintons never seem to get this.

Point Seven: Obama benefited from having witnessed what the Clintons were subjected to. Their situation is unique in American politics. The whole terrible cycle began with them.

Point Eight: But it won't end with them.

Point Nine: No, it will never end. Because it's politics.

Point Ten: Because it's the Clintons.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Francis Wilkinson at fwilkinson1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Katy Roberts at kroberts29@bloomberg.net