There is an old phrase which states…“where there’s smoke there’s fire.” It basically means that if something looks wrong then it probably is wrong – just like if you see smoke then there probably is a fire somewhere. It is often used in a situation when people are trying to figure out something – whether it’s about a person, a situation, or whatever. When the signs of trouble are there, then that means that trouble is probably there as well.
Hillary Clinton has recently used a similar phrase…”I know there’s a lot of smoke and there’s no fire,” to describe the recent issues surrounding her and the Clinton Foundation. Hillary Clinton has repeatedly stated that her “work as Secretary of State was not influenced by any outside forces.” In other words, any meetings she had with individuals or special interest groups, in her role as Secretary of State, had no bearing on the fact that these people may have contributed monies to the Clinton Foundation and placed her in a compromising position. More, specifically, her relationship with the Clinton Foundation has been at “arms length.” The arm’s length principle (ALP) “is the condition or the fact that the parties to a transaction are independent and on an equal footing.” Such a transaction is known as an “arm’s-length transaction”. Furthermore, Hillary Clinton has consistently denied that her role as Secretary of State and her relationship with the Clinton Foundation has placed her in a “conflict of interest.”
The mere fact that Hillary Clinton has stated that there is a lot of smoke and no fire raises the issue of “perception” and “fact.” The “perception,” of a conflict of interest, constitutes the “smoke.” The “fact,” as it relates to a conflict of interest, is the “fire.” In the world of politics, we all know that the “smoke” is deadlier than the “fire.” Hillary Clinton may not have thought it through, for it is not the “fire” that will destroy her, it’s the “smoke.”
In the world of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton could not have been more generous in offering her “smoke and fire” analogy. It’s the smoke that is choking Hillary Clinton, not the fire. As of this day, the fire has yet to ignite. May it do so one day, there is no amount of “political retardant” that will save her. For all we know, her political career may soon be extinguished.
J. Stewart Cook has been involved in Canadian politics since he was a teen. He was actively involved during Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s era during the latter years of the Cold War, serving as an advisor to three different Members of Parliament and Press Secretary to Stewart McInnes, a Federal Cabinet Minister from Nova Scotia. Mr. Cook left active politics in 1988 and entered the Canadian Federal government as a civil servant in the field of Access toInformation and Privacy (ATIP). He retired from the government in 2011 as Director of ATIP for one of the Federal Departments. He currently lives in Ottawa.