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Judge Hillary Clinton by the company she keeps AP

Correction: A prior version of this article listed Roger Tamraz among the Clinton associates who have been investigated and indicted. Mr. Tamraz has not been indicted.

“A man is known by the company he keeps.” That idiom came to define conservative criticism of Barack Obama’s first term. The new president had some shady friends, both doddering left-wing radicals (Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright) and corrupt operators (Rod Blagojevich, Tony Rezko), which led his detractors to conclude that a creature of the Chicago cesspool had taken up residence in the White House. Obama didn’t help himself by naming members of both camps (Van Jones for the radicals, Valerie Jarrett for the Chicagoans) to his new staff.

In retrospect, the right probably put too many of its eggs in the Windy City basket. President Obama has governed more as a conventional technocratic liberal than a far-left ideologue, and while he’s endured his share of scandals, his administration won’t be remembered for skulduggery in the same way that, say, Ulysses S. Grant’s was. But that hardly discredits the principle of judging a man by his friends—or a woman, for that matter. In fact, that aphorism is far better applied to another Democratic presidential candidate: Hillary Clinton.

Clinton and her husband have built their careers around an old-timey, Tammany Hall notion of cronyism. Unlike Bernie Sanders, who’s driven by his progressive beliefs, or Obama, who’s motivated by what he can accomplish, Clinton’s politics is founded primarily on who she knows. As anyone who’s ever watched House of Cards understands, hers is the shrewdest reading of Washington, which is populated not by ideas or accomplishments, but people, with all their habits and shortcomings. The Clintons’ theory has always been that if they can cajole, buy off, and threaten the right people, they can get achieve their goals, which don’t hinge on ideological fulfillment or accomplishment, but power.

Hence the extended tenure of the Clinton Foundation. The problem with this approach to politics is that it leaves a lot of loose ends in the form of the Clintons’ ex-associates, who have a nasty habit of getting themselves indicted. A man is known by the company he keeps. That brings us to this:

Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the FBI and prosecutors from the Justice Department’s public integrity unit, U.S. officials briefed on the probe say.

The investigation dates to at least last year and has focused, at least in part, on whether donations to his gubernatorial campaign violated the law, the officials said. …

As part of the probe, the officials said, investigators have scrutinized McAuliffe’s time as a board member of the Clinton Global Initiative, a vehicle of the charitable foundation set up by former President Bill Clinton.

It’s difficult to believe McAuliffe is corrupt, until you read his Wikipedia bio or look at him for five seconds. What a convenient election-year reminder of the deficiencies of Clintonian ethics.

Maybe the investigation will clear McAuliffe, but if he does go to prison, he’ll be in good company. Among the Clinton associates who have been charged are: Webb Hubbell, Jim Guy Tucker, Dan Lasater, Bill McCuen, Johnny Chung, Charlie Trie, Michael Brown, Jim McDougal, Susan McDougal, David Hale, Roger Clinton, Eugene Lum, Nora Lum, Marc Rich, and Sandy Berger.

The law hasn’t caught up to the Clinton themselves yet (though Justice Department officials investigating Hillary’s emails are reportedly circling), but it has collared a suspicious number of their friends, both current and from their Arkansas days. The laws of probability dictate that this is no coincidence. Yet the imperative currently throbbing at the heart of the Democratic Party isn’t to present a fresh face or usher in a new age of liberal idealism, but to return these people to its center of power.

Much has been written about how Donald Trump is opportunistically using the GOP to advance his own fortunes and those of his pals. Far less has been said about how the Democrats are suffering the same fate under the Clintons. The public might remember the 1990s fondly, but let’s see how that lasts after the indictments start being served.

Matt Purple About the author:
Matt Purple is the Deputy Editor for Rare Politics. Follow him on Twitter @MattPurple
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