- - Thursday, September 24, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Anot-so-funny thing is happening to Hillary Clinton on her way to the coronation. By this time she was supposed to be busy getting accustomed to the purple, looking forward to high times next summer at the Democratic National Convention in Tampa. She might have been thinking about what she would do about those carpets upstairs in the White House that she never got around to replacing when she lived there in that other century. Now she’s on a suicide watch.

Will she continue to die the death of a thousand self-inflicted cuts, or will she — and the rest of us — be put out of her misery by an embarrassed and frightened party and an ambitious vice president who can’t believe the prospect of a second chance at a job he has lusted for, for so long.

The pollsters, eager to get an early line on prospects for the November election next year, find that as of now Hillary would lose narrowly to Carly Fiorina, the onetime CEO at Hewlett-Packard, and shellacked by Ben Carson, the distinguished neurosurgeon. Nothing recedes like success, and prospects can change at warp speed, and public-opinion polls a year ahead of an election are no basis for a wager, but even a reasonably precocious fifth-grader can see that the lady is in deep, deep smelly stuff.

Just when things can’t get worse, sometimes they do. The FBI lab has apparently recovered many of the emails she thought she had safely deleted from her private server. The courts and the Congress are getting antsy, and the Justice Department which, may or may not be afraid to offend someone who might still be the party’s nominee for president, leaks tidbits to the press that further disturbs milady’s sleep.

Getting caught at telling fibs and stretchers once or twice is embarrassing, but getting caught at lying every day for months is devastating. Even if she avoids an indictment, recovery and a return to popular acclaim will be difficult and probably impossible. The fact that a retired doctor with no political experience but regarded as scrupulously honest is besting her in the polls is enough to convince even the most cynical political pros that black lies matter.

Trust matters, too. Relying on advice and counsel of fawning acolytes can get anyone in trouble. The landscape is littered with sure things, and Hillary swallowed the assurance she wanted, that the path to the coronation and the White House would be paved with hosannas and good wishes.

Eggheads and policy wonks tell each other that it’s only “issues,” often dull but always important, that swing elections. Hillary’s positions on foreign policy, economic numbers and social issues could doom her next year, anyway. But what we do know now is that lying matters and voters can tell a lot about a candidate by how he or she behaves when challenged.

Hillary Clinton can joke about her email scandal, dismissing it as the sort of thing that goes on during the summer “silly season,” but the courts, the Congress, the FBI and the public are finally treating it as a serious matter. Only she seems determined to die laughing.

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