- - Monday, February 1, 2016

The Clinton defense, first used by Bill and employed again now by Hillary, is getting a little frayed but it’s difficult to give up something that has worked so well in the past.

The strategy is simple and straightforward. First, deny that you’ve done anything wrong. Blame every sin and sacrilege on the evil Republicans and their “vast right-wing media conspiracy.” In the 1990s Mrs. Clinton argued that right-wingers had been after her husband since he burst on the scene in Arkansas and were determined to destroy him. That’s not so. Mr. Clinton, in the beginning, was highly popular in Arkansas, particularly for his successful early attempt to return the Democrats to their roots.

Lately Hillary has doubled down on her own denials, telling interviewers that the Republicans invented the Benghazi scandal, and when she successfully suppressed that, with the help of a lazy media, they invented the email scandal.

If denial doesn’t work, the Clintons parse their words in a way that even if their critics were right, they never crossed a legal or even an ethical line. Mr. Clinton, a rascal with great squirming skill, famously said whether he was guilty of telling lies depended on what the definition of “is” is. Hillary now argues that the classified information she sent through her private email server was not “marked” as classified when she sent it. But she knows better. She signed an agreement saying that she understood the State Department rules when she was sworn in as secretary of State.

If all else fails, the Clintons demonize their critics and destroy their reputations if they can. Hillary worked to destroy the reputations of the women who accused her husband of sexually abusing them — one of them credibly accused the president of rape, and got a black eye to show for it. Now she says that everyone who criticizes her is merely part of the conspiracy against everyone named Clinton. This begins with the victims, the witnesses and the whistleblowers, and includes the prosecutors, law enforcement officials and lawyers who are charged with investigating and prosecuting cases against the family.

Ken Starr, a highly respected legal figure, suffered the shredding of his reputation by the Clinton attack machine. He has since put his reputation back together and become the president of Baylor University, but he’s living proof of the price of standing up to the Clintons.

Hillary is getting pointed questions now even from family retainers most loyal, such as George Stephanopoulos, a veteran of the long march from Little Rock who is now an interlocutor at ABC News. He knows to watch his step. The lady’s troubles, and they are great and getting greater, smacks of desperation, and desperation is a terrible and dangerous thing, not exactly baggage to take this morning to New Hampshire.

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