Will the scandal over Hillary Clinton’s cynical, take-no-prisoners defense of a child rapist damage her chances at winning the White House?
Can we choke down the fact that she willingly took on that rape case, then lied about it in print—as revealed by recently unearthed audio tapes? (Clinton wrote that she was assigned the case against her will; the tapes reveal that she took on the case as a personal favor, representing a rapist who seems to have calculated that a female attorney would help his chances.)
Will women vote for a woman who used technicalities to get a brutal rapist less than a year in jail, then chuckled about the case to another lawyer? A lawyer who bragged how cleverly she had helped her client cheat justice?
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton laughs while answering a question at the 2014 National Council for Behavioral Health Conference at Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at National Harbor, Md., Tuesday, May 6, 2014. Clinton spoke about mental health, political, and social issues during her talk. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
I wonder if voters will be beguiled by Clinton’s steely public persona—or if they’ll look at the broken life of the victim, whom the attack left infertile for life? Will they remember that defense lawyer Hillary Clinton smeared the 12-year-old victim as a delusional seducer? Will Hillary’s campaign be dogged by women who have suffered the trauma of rape, picketing her speeches with signs that say, “Hillary Blames Victims”?
I fear that this story will go away. That Hillary will dodge this bullet as her husband dodged a credible charge that he actually, personally, raped a woman with his very own penis.
And I wonder how on God’s earth that can happen—how any woman, or any man with a wife, daughter, or sister, can look at Hillary Clinton now without throwing up in his mouth. Are Americans morally deaf, dumb, and blind?
No. I think that I’ve figured it out. It’s not just that liberals will read the story and assume it’s a baseless slander—not when the Daily Beast and ABC News are echoing the claims that appear on Fox. Not when you can read what the rape victim thinks of Hillary:
“I would say [to Clinton], ‘You took a case of mine in ’75, you lied on me… I realize the truth now, the heart of what you’ve done to me. And you are supposed to be for women? You call that [being] for women, what you done to me? And I hear you on tape laughing.”
Americans are not jaded cynics who expect their politicians to be moral monsters, on a par with stone-faced killers like Vladimir Putin. (Charles de Gaulle famously agreed with Nietzsche that “the State is a cold monster.”)
Americans are not so blasé about political evil—which is why we drove Richard Nixon out of power after Watergate, to the puzzlement of foreigners worldwide who took Nixonian “dirty tricks” for granted.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, holding her hand hear her face, speaks to a group of supporters and University of Miami students, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at the university in Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
We still think that our country is a beautiful exception to the cruel calculus of politics, and expect that our leaders will be more than schemers skilled at clawing their way to power. Perhaps it’s a lingering ghost of our Puritan forefathers who meant to found a “city on a hill,” or the faded echo of the Founding Fathers who warned that without virtuous citizens and upright leaders, our Republic would degenerate into just another squalid tyranny, like today’s Venezuela.
But we expect better.
So when we are faced with evil, we are confused. We cannot quite believe it.
We see an immaculately groomed, elite-educated person like Hillary Clinton who repeats all the pious phrases of humanitarian liberalism, and we cannot wrap our heads around the idea that she might be an icy, conscienceless sociopath. When we visualize a sociopath, we think of a leering loner who dresses up as a clown and murders children, or a late-term abortionist who collects fetal feet as trophies.
But the best-selling expert on sociopaths, Dr. Martha Stout of Harvard, reminds us that some four Americans out of a 100 are in fact clinical sociopaths—people who simply do not experience empathy with their fellow human beings, who do not experience guilt.
Brain scans of sociopaths have shown that when they are presented with photos that in normal humans provoke strong emotions, such as pictures of dead children or animals being tortured, the emotional centers in sociopaths’ brains remain coolly inactive. Instead, what lights up is the part of their brains that in normal people gets active when they play chess. Sociopaths experience horror stories—such as the story of a 12-year-old girl being brutally raped—the way you and I experience crossword puzzles. And one might very well chuckle and brag over how quickly one finished a crossword puzzle.
I have known a few such sociopaths in my life, and like most normal people I simply could not accept the evidence of my senses. Faced with their ruthless actions and habitual lies, I fell back on denial. I made excuses for their cruelties and believed their jaw-dropping lies.
That seemed like the “Christian” thing to do. Of course it wasn’t. It was just a lie I told myself, but choking it down was easier than facing the stark, appalling fact: That I had befriended a moral monster.
My question for Americans is: Will we go ahead and elect one?
John Zmirak is author, most recently, of the upcoming book "The Race to Save Our Century" (with Jason Jones). His columns are archived at www.badcatholics.com.
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