Democrats convinced they’ve got the goods on the man in the White House really need to look at their own history first.
As an “impeachment inquiry” gathers steam, based largely around the accusation that President Donald Trump used his position in the Oval Office to try to influence the outcome of an upcoming election, Fox News host Tucker Carlson hit the airwaves this week with documentary proof of former President Bill Clinton doing that very thing.
And his terms were far more explicit, and more politically self-serving, than anything Trump actually said.
On Monday’s broadcast of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Carlson dredged up a White House transcript of a telephone call between Clinton and then British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
In the conversation from February 2000, Clinton sought Blair’s help in resolving a commercial dispute between British Airways and two American carriers, USAir and American Airlines.
That was an election year in the United States, of course, when Americans would be going to the polls in nine months to select Clinton’s successor in the presidency.
Clinton obviously did not want to make the election more difficult than it had to be for then-Vice President Al Gore, who was to win the Democratic nomination after crushing former Sen. Bill Bradley in a perfunctory primary fight.
“Back in 2000, President Bill Clinton had a conversation with Tony Blair of the U.K. and asked him directly to intercede in a dispute between British Airways and two carriers,” Carlson said. “The president, at the time, was much more direct than President Trump was in his conversation.
“This is Bill Clinton, and I’m quoting: ‘In a political season, it would be big over here to get this open sore resolved. If you could have somebody take a look at it.’ Tony Blair responded that he would.”
Now, as Carlson pointed out, this set-up is more or less what Democrats are caterwauling about: An American president, speaking to the leader of a foreign country, asks for assistance.
In neither the Clinton case nor Trump’s now-famous phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky did the American president promise anything in return.
But there was a crucial difference. Clinton’s favor was sought expressly for a domestic political purpose:
“In a political season, it would be big over here to get this open sore resolved. If you could have somebody take a look at it,” he said.
There’s no denying Trump’s conversation with Zelensky could have redounded to his benefit at some point, but his first request for help referred to a campaign that was already past — the 2016 presidential election, and the role that might have been played by operatives in Ukraine.
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His second request, referring to former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden could be taken politically, but there’s also no denying that there was more than a hint of corruption surrounding the activities of both Bidens in Ukraine (one benefitting from a $50,000-a-month job without any discernible qualifications, the other using his position to protect the company that provided that largesse.)
In other words, what Carlson demonstrated on Monday night’s broadcast was that it’s far from unheard-of for presidential conversations with world leaders to include some sort of informal requests for assistance. (Given that there are human beings involved, it would be astonishing if they didn’t.)
More damning to the Democratic argument against Trump, though, is that what the Clinton conversation showed was a president flexing the muscles of the Oval Office deliberately to help his party win an upcoming election.
What Trump’s conversation showed — outside of the fever dreams of Rep. Adam Schiff and his twisted ilk — is a president seeking assistance for an investigation surrounding an election almost three years in the past. And for a thorough investigation of corruption allegations surrounding a potential future opponent.
Democrats to this day defend Clinton, who faced an impeachment trial that was richly deserved, but they’re hellbent on impeaching Trump for a conversation that was utterly routine.
As Carlson pointed out, there’s virtually nothing truly “unprecedented” in Washington.
“Whenever they’re telling you something is without precedent, you can be certain, it happens every day here,” he said. (He probably was not referring to some of the seamier sides of the Clinton’s Oval Office days.)
But what never fails to surprise is how hypocritical Democrats are in their application of standards. As Carlson noted, Clinton’s conversation was likely one of countless similar exchanges with foreign leaders.
Before screaming for Trump’s impeachment, Democrats would have been wise to look at their own history first.
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