If They Come for Hillary in the Morning

Why Donald Trump owes it to America to fulfill his campaign promise to investigate and prosecute Hillary Rodham Clinton

“I am gaining in health slowly, and am quite cheerful in view of my approaching end — being fully persuaded that I am worth inconceivably more to hang than any other purpose.”

— John Brown, November 12, 1859

Announcing his nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, Donald Trump declared, “Millions of voters said this was the single most important issue for them when they voted for me for president. I am a man of my word.” But of course, we all know that’s not true. During a presidential debate, with cameras rolling, Trump promised to ask his attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. After he won, it was one of the first major campaign promises he went back on, and he acknowledged at the time that it would be a disappointment to his supporters. “I don’t want to hurt the Clintons,” he said. “I really don’t. She went through a lot and suffered greatly in many different ways.”

Secretary Clinton, for her part, has more or less adhered to the American tradition of lying low after losing an election that she should have won in her sleep. She surfaced briefly, to address the recount, and there have been some troubling rumors suggesting that she might run again in 2020. Otherwise, she’s off hiking with her family and shuffling around behind the scenes, posting the occasional tweet.

It’s all incredibly frustrating. Donald Trump promised, explicitly, to launch an investigation of Secretary Clinton. Instead he’s harassing refugees, and firing lawyers who were going to quit in a week anyway. He’s a real tough guy when he’s making snarky comments about Arnold Schwarzenegger, or flipping out about some talk show host, and he evidently put the prime minister of Australia in his place with a quickness. But ever since the night of the election, the one person Donald Trump has been too chickenshit to go after is the nasty woman who beat him in the popular vote. She didn’t beat him a little bit. She beat him like he stole something, and that bloviating coward still ended up sitting in the Oval Office, signing one executive order after another with his tiny little hands. Well, fine. Let’s see him come through on his campaign promise to bring Stalinist purges to America. Don’t tell me he’s letting Secretary Clinton off the hook because she’s, “suffered greatly and in many different ways.” You know who’s suffered greatly? Syrian refugees. Iraqi interpreters. If you’re willing to stomp all over some baby on her way over here for open heart surgery then you don’t get to claim you’re giving Hillary Clinton a break because you’re just such a compassionate human being. Appoint that prosecutor and let’s go to work. Because, frankly, it seems like Clinton could use a little kick in the ass.

Barack Obama once said of Secretary Clinton, “What sets Hillary apart is that through it all, she just keeps on going, and she doesn’t stop caring, and she doesn’t stop trying, and she never stops fighting for us — even if we haven’t always appreciated it.” But where was she during the Women’s March? Where was she for the protests of the immigration ban? I’m all for a leaderless revolution, and anyone who wants to join one is welcome to do — whatever they feel like, I guess. Otherwise, strong movements benefit from strong leaders. While mainstream American politicians have a long history of not getting involved in protests and marches, the movement to oppose Donald Trump is as mainstream as any American mobilization in living memory. And, after winning the popular election by more votes than any losing candidate in the history of the world, Hillary Clinton has an unprecedented moral authority to lead a popular movement, without actually governing. Democrats who breathed a sigh of relief when she lost, and are happy to let her fade into the background, are missing a golden opportunity. It’s almost unheard of for an A-list professional politician to have the chance to lead a moral crusade. But Clinton could be that person for us, if she’d get up off the matt, cut off her gloves, and make it a street fight.

Lenny Bruce once said, “Every man who professes to be a ‘Man of God’ and owns more than one suit is a hustler, so long as there are people in the world who don’t have any.” Presidents order Americans into battle. Anyone who applies for that job without being ready to give this country their last full measure of devotion is a hustler. And wasn’t that always our concern about Hillary Clinton? She claimed to be a fighter, and a progressive, but she never seemed to mean it. And maybe she never did, or never had to — though we saw some real fire from her in that third debate. But she’s 69 years old. This was her last major political campaign, and she’s at least as rich as any reasonable person needs to be. The only thing she really has to lose at this point is her fear. If she stood up now — if she came to the next big protest, and stood up in front of the crowd, and said, “Hey Donald. Remember how you said you were going to appoint a special prosecutor? Well here I am. And I stand with women. And I stand with immigrants. I stand for the environment, and for the future of this country that you’re trying to sell off to private corporations and banks. And I have a message for you, President Trump: come and get me.”

If she did that, there would be very little we couldn’t accomplish afterward, and Donald Trump, his coterie of sycophants, and this worthless Republican Congress, would have cause to know real fear.

Otherwise? Well, hell. Maybe we were right about her all along.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger.

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