- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 23, 2008


In a Democratic primary often billed as “change” versus “experience,” some 3 million documents could shed much light onto Hillary Clinton’s “experience.” Let anyone forget, we’re referring to the voluminous holdings at the National Archives and the William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark., which document Mrs. Clinton’s eight-year tenure as first lady. These papers have been scarcely mentioned amid a contentious primary battle in which the chances are even (at least) that Mrs. Clinton’s “experience” could soon be rendered moot. But if Mrs. Clinton manages to stave off Barack Obama, we expect this subject to be immediately ascendant again.

Here’s where it was left by the close of January. Matters are in the hands of former President Clinton. “I’d like it if the records got out there but the American people just [need] to know, we’re getting this stuff out there as soon as we can,” Mr. Clinton said during a C-SPAN appearance in November. Now on record in favor of disclosure, Mr. Clinton has shown that “as soon as we can” means “not right now.” A tranche of health care papers were forwarded for review to longtime Clinton adviser Bruce Lindsey in early February. After Mr. Lindsey finishes, Mr. Clinton himself will have a chance for review. This timeline buys the Clintons much of the remaining primary season — indeed, through crucial contests in Ohio and Texas — to avoid a wildcard disclosure.

A small fraction of these documents — now public thanks to the watchdog Judicial Watch — shows a wealth of unvarnished information. One 24-page health care memo from Sen. Jay Rockefeller to Mrs. Clinton outlines “attacks” by which the HillaryCare shock troops would advance their message. “Expose lifestyles, tactics and motives of small business lobbyists” is one. Then there are the two “grassroots” approaches of “partisan” and “non-partisan” organization-building, with their respective pros and cons. One “disadvantage” of the nonpartisan approach would be “less central control,” concludes Mr. Rockefeller. No kidding.

First lady files normally stand at the back of the disclosure line because most of them pertain to matters of secondary interest. But for this first serious presidential bid by a former first lady, the circumstances are quite different.

The Hillary files are not gone, and they are not forgotten.

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