Intent and Incompetence

Opinions  /  by Simon Cull '20  /  November 11, 2017

Arya Singh '20 / The Lawrence

Surprisingly enough, the people who are in charge of this country aren’t exactly the most morally sound in many cases. Ever since the Vietnam War, America has accepted corruption and personal scandal as a normal part of political life. This acceptance was particularly apparent in last year's campaigns for the presidency: The 2016 Presidential Election was a personal, cheap-shooting knife fight, and that should really come as no surprise—the people who headed it are smiling, plastic, megalomaniacal thieves in suits.

Hillary Clinton, like Donald Trump, seemed to work for her lackeys’ and family’s benefit and for own political gains since at least the 1990s or earlier. She fits left-leaning political commentator Gore Vidal’s description of Democrat-style corruption from his 1975 essay “The State of the Union”: it’s “cuter, prettier, [and] a bit more corrupt” than Trump’s. Admittedly, a healthy chunk of the accusations towards Clinton are right-wing driven and the musings of conspiracy nuts, but many other cases point towards Clinton’s questionable dealings and financial transactions, such as Benghazi and the Email Scandal, both referenced often by Trump. The Benghazi controversy began when accusations of then Secretary of State Clinton’s misconduct and incompetence arose in her handling of the attack on the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012, an attack that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador. In my opinion and based on a senate committee’s findings, it cannot be proven that Clinton did anything immediately corrupt or illegal. However, this lack of dirt seems to originate from a cover-up by Clinton, as emails relevant to Benghazi were coincidentally deleted from her private email server. Nothing can be confirmed, but it certainly appears that something had been going on behind the scenes.

Trump, on the other hand, is more heinous. He too has had his fair share of sketchy business deals during his days as a playboy businessman. Democrats chased after his decadent and seemingly wildly misogynistic, morally questionable lifestyle in their own smear campaigns during the election. The abuse of taxpayer money by Trump-appointed figures has made headlines, the most notable of which being now-resigned Secretary of Health Tom Price’s spending several million dollars of state funds on his private jet trips. The crown jewel thus far is the case of the collusion with Russia. It is now known for sure that at least a few members of the Trump campaign were in contact with Russian diplomats. Talking to people isn’t a crime, but some of the people who did the talking have committed some: Special Council Robert Mueller and his investigative committee indicted Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort on October 27 for money laundering and lobbying for the ousted ex-pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych without registering him doing so, a crime under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938. Trump, while not as blatantly corrupt, has certainly surrounded himself with a motley crew of thieves and liars.

The American public stopped trusting its government after Watergate in 1972, but it had had its doubts since the start of the Cold War. It is generally accepted today that the government hides information, and America loves a good scandal in an odd, perverse sort of way. But, in this world that many like to designate as “post-truth”, people see only the conspiracies they want to see. To a conservative, the liberals are guilty of all that is accused of them, and vice versa, but in the twisted world of modern American politics, everybody’s guilty. Let’s keep that in mind.