Credibility

My post below about Butler student Evan Strange who asked Chelsea Clinton an inappropriate question spawned an interesting response. I received several emails from Butler student Lauren Laski defending her fellow student. I’m not going to go into detail of what they said, other than that Lauren really needs to take a logic course while she’s there at Butler. But I want to talk about this a little more, because I still think Evan’s a moron, but apparently I need to spell out why for some.

Let’s look at the question Evan actually asked: He asked Chelsea to give her opinion “on the criticism of her mother that how she handled the Lewinsky scandal might be a sign of weakness and she might not be a strong enough candidate to be president.”

First, where the hell is this “criticism” coming from? Evan asked the question like everyone has heard this, and it’s a statement of the obvious, and that it’s a question in the minds of most Americans — but it really isn’t. There are a tiny handful of people out there making this criticism – but it’s not average Americans, it’s people like drug-addled Rush Limbaugh, who also thinks Clinton shot Vincent Foster and faked the moon landing herself. The criticism doesn’t have any legitimate basis; it’s a smear campaign like all the others coming from the same right-wing conspiracy nuts. Given that, the question really didn’t need to be asked.

But let’s even suppose there’s actual merit to the question. is Clinton’s “credibility” today affected by the decision she made ten years about how to handle her marital difficulties?

Of course not. The answer to that is so obvious that again, the question really need not be asked. Hillary’s choice about how to handle “the Lewinsky scandal” was a choice that over 100 million Americans have had to face. What do you do when you have a serious problem in your marriage; is it better for your family to stick it out, or to get a divorce? There’s no right or wrong answer to that question, as anyone who’s been through it can tell you. You have to pick what you think would be best for your family and even your community, and hope and pray that the decision you’ve made is the best one. And you may not know whether it was for decades.

But no matter which option you pick – there’s not a moral failing in making it. Suggesting that Hillary’s credibility is in question over the choice she made to stay married is also calling into question the credibility of 100 million other Americans who’ve had marital difficulties and had to make that choice. That’s a pretty audacious thing for a 20-year-old unmarried college student to do. If Evan has anyone around him who’s been divorced, they should be bitch-slapping him right about now.

I believe that the above answer to Evan’s “question” is obvious to 99% of America. Most people understand exactly what Hillary went through when her marriage got such a public and painful challenge, and most people would have the common sense not to judge her for how she handled it. Most people would never ask such a question in the first place.

Now let’s go back to Evan’s claim that he’s a Hillary supporter and was trying to help her out. I don’t have any evidence as to his real motivation, but his body language and tone belie what he’s saying. Anyone with common sense would understand that asking this question does nothing to help the Clinton campaign – perhaps Evan is genuinely lacking in that common sense, but I don’t think so.

It’s my opinion that Evan wanted to be on national television, that he didn’t mind causing Clinton some bad news cycles, that he was savvy enough to know that the name Lewsinsky uttered in a room with Chelsea Clinton would be explosive, and that he was willing to make himself and the state of Indiana look dumb to ask the question.
Lauren claimed that Evan didn’t intend for his question to make the news. That’s a bit of a stretch, considering that he had interviews with 12 different media outlets; appearing on Fox News and the Today Show, among others. If he was sincere about his question to Chelsea and his motivation in asking it, when the media came calling he would have said “no comment.”

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