Hillary Clinton Gets Gored
Americans of a certain age who follow politics and policy closely still have vivid memories of the 2000 election — bad memories, and not just because the man who lost the popular vote somehow ended up in office. For the campaign leading up to that end game was nightmarish too.
You see, one candidate, George W. Bush, was dishonest in a way that was unprecedented in U.S. politics. Most notably, he proposed big tax cuts for the rich while insisting, in raw denial of arithmetic, that they were targeted for the middle class. These campaign lies presaged what would happen during his administration — an administration that, let us not forget, took America to war on false pretenses.
大家知道，其中一名候选人的欺诈程度在美国政坛上史无前例，他就是乔治·W·布什(George W. Bush)。尤其是，他提出的计划会给富人大幅减税，同时却又罔顾数据，坚称它针对的是中产阶级。这些在竞选阶段撒下的谎言预示了布什政府接下来的作为——不要忘记，正是该届政府用虚假的借口将美国拖入了战争。
Yet throughout the campaign most media coverage gave the impression that Mr. Bush was a bluff, straightforward guy, while portraying Al Gore — whose policy proposals added up, and whose critiques of the Bush plan were completely accurate — as slippery and dishonest. Mr. Gore’s mendacity was supposedly demonstrated by trivial anecdotes, none significant, some of them simply false. No, he never claimed to have invented the internet. But the image stuck.
And right now I and many others have the sick, sinking feeling that it’s happening again.
True, there aren’t many efforts to pretend that Donald Trump is a paragon of honesty. But it’s hard to escape the impression that he’s being graded on a curve. If he manages to read from a TelePrompter without going off script, he’s being presidential. If he seems to suggest that he wouldn’t round up all 11 million undocumented immigrants right away, he’s moving into the mainstream. And many of his multiple scandals, like what appear to be clear payoffs to state attorneys general to back off investigating Trump University, get remarkably little attention.
Meanwhile, we have the presumption that anything Hillary Clinton does must be corrupt, most spectacularly illustrated by the increasingly bizarre coverage of the Clinton Foundation.
Step back for a moment, and think about what that foundation is about. When Bill Clinton left office, he was a popular, globally respected figure. What should he have done with that reputation? Raising large sums for a charity that saves the lives of poor children sounds like a pretty reasonable, virtuous course of action. And the Clinton Foundation is, by all accounts, a big force for good in the world. For example, Charity Watch, an independent watchdog, gives it an “A” rating — better than the American Red Cross.
让我们暂且退后一步，想一想这个基金是怎么回事。比尔·克林顿(Bill Clinton)卸任总统时，是个招人喜欢的人物，在全球范围内广受尊重。他该如何利用自己的声誉呢？募集大笔善款，救贫困儿童于水火，似乎是相当合理而又彰显道德的行动方案。此外，根据各方面的说法，克林顿基金是一支让世界变得更美好的重要力量。例如，独立监察组织慈善观察(Charity Watch)给它的评级是“A”，比给美国红十字会的还高。
Now, any operation that raises and spends billions of dollars creates the potential for conflicts of interest. You could imagine the Clintons using the foundation as a slush fund to reward their friends, or, alternatively, Mrs. Clinton using her positions in public office to reward donors. So it was right and appropriate to investigate the foundation’s operations to see if there were any improper quid pro quos. As reporters like to say, the sheer size of the foundation “raises questions.”
But nobody seems willing to accept the answers to those questions, which are, very clearly, “no.”
Consider the big Associated Press report suggesting that Mrs. Clinton’s meetings with foundation donors while secretary of state indicate “her possible ethics challenges if elected president.” Given the tone of the report, you might have expected to read about meetings with, say, brutal foreign dictators or corporate fat cats facing indictment, followed by questionable actions on their behalf.
But the prime example The A.P. actually offered was of Mrs. Clinton meeting with Muhammad Yunus, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize who also happens to be a longtime personal friend. If that was the best the investigation could come up with, there was nothing there.
So I would urge journalists to ask whether they are reporting facts or simply engaging in innuendo, and urge the public to read with a critical eye. If reports about a candidate talk about how something “raises questions,” creates “shadows,” or anything similar, be aware that these are all too often weasel words used to create the impression of wrongdoing out of thin air.
And here’s a pro tip: the best ways to judge a candidate’s character are to look at what he or she has actually done, and what policies he or she is proposing. Mr. Trump’s record of bilking students, stiffing contractors and more is a good indicator of how he’d act as president; Mrs. Clinton’s speaking style and body language aren’t. George W. Bush’s policy lies gave me a much better handle on who he was than all the up-close-and-personal reporting of 2000, and the contrast between Mr. Trump’s policy incoherence and Mrs. Clinton’s carefulness speaks volumes today.
另外，说一个小窍门：评判候选人人品的最佳方式，是看他或她实际做了什么，看其提议推行哪些政策。特朗普曾欺骗学生，赖承包商的帐，凡此种种完全可以预示，他当选总统后将如何行事。希拉里·克林顿的说话风格和肢体语言则并不具有预示性。乔治·W·布什(George W. Bush)的政策谎言远比2000年那些详尽的个人报道更能让我了解他是什么样的人；如今，把特朗普所提政策建议的不连贯与希拉里·克林顿的严谨细致两相对照，便可说明一切。
In other words, focus on the facts. America and the world can’t afford another election tipped by innuendo.