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Why The Clinton-kazakhstan Story Matters

Chris just flagged a Josh Marshall item about the Clinton-Kazakhstan story which, like Chris, I think is a little off the mark. Josh writes that:

One point that should not go unmentioned is that what former President Clinton is described as doing in that Times article is little different from what the first President Bush has done in his post-presidency. And his son is the president. So if it would be a problem with Bill, and I think it would be, it unquestionably is already a problem with the current president's dad. And no one has seemed to much bother about it.

That's fair enough, as far as it goes. But I don't think it goes very far. As Chris points out, the two Bushes weren't implicitly running as a presidential duo--to the contrary, W. generally tried to distance himself from H.W. when campaigning (and certainly after). 

And there are several other ways in which context matters here. For example, one of Hillary's chief talking points is that, unlike Obama, she's been "fully vetted." This story demonstrates that to be false. Also, while people may have had negative associations with first Bush presidency, tackiness-verging-on-sleaziness wasn't one of them. (I'm not saying H.W.'s crowd was never tacky or sleazy, just that this wasn't a major narrative in retrospect.) But the average voter hears a story like this and immediately thinks Marc Rich, or some such. Finally, a major storyline of W.'s 2000 campaign wasn't whether or not he could "control" poppy; the question (even hope) was whether poppy could/would control him. But that's one of the major unanswered questions about a future Hillary Clinton administration. Needless to say, this story doesn't alleviate those concerns.

And that's all before you get to the actual details of the story, which are somewhat egregious. (See Isaac for one particularly nauseating piece.)

P.S. A bonus point: If they weren't already on the Clinton influence-peddling beat, every investigative political reporter in America now is. And, unlike sexual indiscretions, it's a subject they're completely unambivalent about pursuing. 

--Noam Scheiber