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Knapp: Hillary Clinton, closet libertarian? Not likely

“My dream,” Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is alleged to have said in a 2013 speech to an audience in the banking industry, “is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders.”

The quote comes from an email addressed to (among others) Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, released late last week by Wikileaks.

The speech excerpts were — probably not coincidentally — overshadowed by the release of an 11-year-old recording of Republican nominee Donald Trump making lewd and demeaning remarks about using his star power to bully women into sexual liaisons. But in my opinion they’re at least as important.

Everyone already knew that Trump was a slimy misogynist. Nobody, at least outside Wall Street and Clinton’s inner circle, knew what she got paid millions of dollars to say behind closed doors.

I have to confess that, as a libertarian, I get a Chris Matthews style thrill going up my leg when I hear a major party presidential candidate cited in favor of “open trade and open borders.” Even the Libertarian Party’s 2016 presidential ticket isn’t on record with as clear a statement of their party’s message on those two issues (or, frankly, on many others).

But of course there’s a catch.

The thrill comes to a screeching halt when I remember that Mrs. Clinton is as thoroughgoing a liar as has ever graced the national political stage. She seems to lie about pretty much everything, pretty much all the time. Whether it’s sniper fire in Bosnia, her negligent handling of classified information, her response to the attack on US facilities in Benghazi, or her dodgy responses to questions about her health, Clinton’s relationships with truth tend to look an awful lot like Trump’s relationships with women.

The only reason to think that Clinton might actually have meant what she said is that she felt the need to keep it a secret. In a speech to the National Multi-Family Housing Council (a lobbying group for landlords), also in 2013, she allegedly said “if everybody’s watching, you know, all of the back room discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least. So, you need both a public and a private position.” So maybe “open trade and open borders” really does reflect her true innermost thoughts.

But I wouldn’t count on it. With politicians like Trump and Clinton, it’s hard to go wrong by assuming the worst.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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