Hillary’s Secrets

Hillary Clinton boasts about her expertise in health care, but won’t reveal the deails of her health care plan. Clinton uses her experience as first lady as a reason to vote for her, but now there is controversy over her records being sealed. The Los Angeles Times reports:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton cites her experience as a compelling reason voters should make her president, but nearly 2 million pages of documents covering her White House years are locked up in a building here, obscuring a large swath of her record as first lady.

Clinton’s calendars, appointment logs and memos are stored at her husband’s presidential library, in the custody of federal archivists who do not expect them to be released until after the 2008 presidential election.

A trove of records has been made public detailing the Clinton White House’s attempts to remake the nation’s healthcare system, following a request from Bill Clinton that those materials be released first. Hillary Clinton led the healthcare effort in 1993 and 1994.

But even in the healthcare documents, at least 1,000 pages involving her work has been censored by archives staff because they include confidential advice and must be kept secret under a federal law called the Presidential Records Act. Political consultants said that if Hillary Clinton’s records were made public, rivals would mine them for scraps of information that might rattle her campaign.

“Those files — that’s the mother lode of opposition research,” said Ray McNally, a Republican political consultant in Sacramento. “Opposition researchers would be very hungry to see what’s there.” Robert Shrum, senior political strategist in Democratic Sen. John F. Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign, said: “In 2 million pieces of paper, would opposition researchers hope to find one where she wrote a memo saying, ‘I wish I’d never gotten involved in healthcare?’ Sure. That’s what they’d love to find.”

Bob Shrum doesn’t know how to go for the jugular as Republicans do. A memo such as that in the context of frustration over the political oppositon to her plan would not really be all that terrible, although I doubt she would have put such thoughts, if she ever had them, in writing. In contrast, Republican researchers would dream of finding a memo saying, “Once we get this plan into operation, we move on to full government control over health care, and then the entire economy, Comrads.” Of course Republican fantasies and reality are two different things.

More seriously, the papers might be illuminating not only to the opposition but to those of us who are trying to get a better handle on exactly what Clinton thinks about health care, along with other issues, beyond the political spin and triangulation. I wonder if Clinton gave any thought to the serious flaws in her health care program. Perhaps a better insight into her thought process will give a better idea as to whether she might be able to do it better the second time around.

Not surprisingly, many conservative blogs are already demanding that all the records be released. If this was simply in order to better understand the candidate in order to make an educated choice in voting, I’d agree completely. More likely they are hoping to find evidence of scandal, despite all the negative results on numerous previous fishing expeditions.

Regardless of their motivations, as a matter of principle I will back their demands that Hillary Clinton’s public papers be made available. In return I wonder when more conservatives will speak out about the secrecy of the Bush administration, which is the ultimate cause of these papers not being public, especially considering that the information which Congress is attempting to obtain pertains directly to abuse of power and to evidence that this administration has usurped the law and the Constitution.

Update: I also wouldn’t mind a chance to check out all the documents from his father’s administration which Bush classified while everyone was distracted by 9/11. It is certainly ironic that measures initiated by Bush to increase government secrecy might wind up helping Hillary Clinton.

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