Which Hypocritical Billionaire Should Rule America?

Clinton_Paskova_0191471569795
She might meet with you — if the price is right

W.J. Astore

News about the Clinton Foundation and its finances shows the truth of that old adage, “You get what you pay for.”  In this case, giving money to the Clinton Foundation often bought access to Hillary Clinton (or her closest aides), the odds-on favorite to be America’s next president, and sometimes it helped with favors as well.  These revelations illustrate perfectly the “pay to play” nature of the American political scene: the usual influence peddling, the usual FOBH, Friends of Bill and Hillary, coming together to pull the strings while being paid handsomely for the performance.

Here’s what the Washington Post had to say about it:

A sports executive who was a major donor to the Clinton Foundation and whose firm paid Bill Clinton millions of dollars in consulting fees wanted help getting a visa for a British soccer player with a criminal past.

The crown prince of Bahrain, whose government gave more than $50,000 to the Clintons’ charity and who participated in its glitzy annual conference, wanted a last-minute meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

U2 rocker and philanthropist Bono, also a regular at foundation events, wanted high-level help broadcasting a live link to the International Space Station during concerts.

In each case, according to emails released Monday from Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state, the requests were directed to Clinton’s deputy chief of staff and confidante, Huma Abedin, who engaged with other top aides and sometimes Clinton herself about how to respond.

The emails show that, in these and similar cases, the donors did not always get what they wanted, particularly when they sought anything more than a meeting.

But the exchanges, among 725 pages of correspondence from Abedin disclosed as part of a lawsuit by the conservative group Judicial Watch, illustrate the way the Clintons’ international network of friends and donors was able to get access to Hillary Clinton and her inner circle during her tenure running the State Department.

Yes, money sure does matter.  If asked why they took more the fifty grand from the prince of Bahrain, among other donors with deep pockets, I suppose Hillary and Bill might just say, “Because that’s what they offered.”  Money is the universal solvent of politics, and Hillary and Bill know this better than most.

Of course, Hillary is trying to position herself as the champion of ordinary people, even as she and her husband have amassed a foundation and position worth roughly $2 billion. Who knows?  Given the nebulous and chaotic nature of Trump’s finances, the Clintons may be richer than him.

Which brings me to this question: Which hypocritical billionaire do you want to rule America?

Update (8/24/16): The Washington Post has another story on how Hillary Clinton is raising big money through various fundraisers.  All you need is $25K or $50K and some good connections and you too might be able to meet Hillary in a semi-private setting.  You might even net a bonus like seeing Cher (in Provincetown) or hearing Aretha Franklin sing (in Birmingham, Michigan).

Remember how Bernie Sanders energized a movement, raising millions by relying on individual donations that averaged (and this is an amount he made famous) $27 per donation?

Those days are gone.  Establishment Hillary is back, and she’s raising buckets of money from the deep pockets of heavy-hitters.

But never fear!  She’s all about helping “everyday people” — a phrase her campaign used until someone noticed it was slightly condescending.

If we’re “everyday people,” who are the Clintons?  Well, I can tell you how they think of themselves by how they act: They are the higher life forms, to borrow a phrase from a friend, a retired Army major who remembers M-48 tanks because he served in one.

That’s one place we won’t see Hillary: in an Army tank.  But if we ever did, I think she’d pull it off better than Michael Dukakis did.

***Photographer
Beware of posing with tanks

 

What Does Hillary Clinton Stand For?

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
What does she really stand for?  (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

W.J. Astore

What does Hillary Clinton stand for?  It’s a serious question.  Sure, she’s given a lot of speeches, but without saying much.  I’ve watched the debates and have listened to her speak, and the best I can come up with is this:

  1. She’s continuing the legacy of Obama.  For example, Obamacare will be extended to cover all Americans.
  2. She’s going to break the glass ceiling that has blocked a woman from being president.
  3. She loves Israel and will support whatever the Israeli government wants.
  4. She’s going to work to raise the minimum wage for workers — $12.00 is the goal.
  5. She’s going to work against the TPP (after she was initially for it).
  6. She’s against the Keystone Pipeline (after initially supporting it).
  7. She’s fully for equality for the LGBT community (after initially being against it).
  8. She’s for an aggressive U.S. military posture and fully supports enormous defense budgets.
  9.  She’s not going to do dumb things like that scary Donald Trump.
  10. She’s got a lot of experience in government.  The length of her resume alone qualifies her to be president.

That’s the gist of her message as far as I’ve been able to discern.  Of course, there are other messages for her followers.  Surely Hillary will support reproductive rights, to include access to abortion.  Surely she will appoint justices to the Supreme Court that are somewhere to the left of Antonin Scalia. Such considerations shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand.

But a new path for our country?  Fresh ideas?  They’re not coming from Hillary. Important issues like campaign finance reform, reforming banks and other powerful financial institutions, reducing income inequality in the United States, and similar issues of reform and fairness are dead on arrival if she’s elected president.

Also, Hillary’s embrace of Henry Kissinger as well as neo-conservative principles in foreign policy ensures a continuation of wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and locations throughout the Greater Middle East.  (When I first typed that, I unconsciously wrote, Greater Military East, because America’s engagement with the region is almost exclusively conducted in military terms, via bombing, drone strikes, and special ops raids).

The Clinton Campaign’s strategy of being fuzzy about specifics while vilifying her chief opponent (admittedly not difficult to do if your opponent is Trump) reminds me of a book I read many, many moons ago: “The Selling of the President 1968,” by Joe McGinniss.  What I recall from that book was the cynical process of triangulation and secrecy as well as the tight control of “the message” by Candidate Nixon and his cronies, the cagey and sleazy way Nixon and his campaign refused to engage honestly with the American people.  His campaign in 1968 foreshadowed the crimes of Nixon and his administration to come, most infamously Watergate.  At the root was an attitude of privilege, superiority, and entitlement, a sense that Nixon had paid his dues and deserved to be president.  Dammit, it was HIS turn.  And look at the length of his resume!

Much can be said about comparing Hillary to “Tricky Dick.”  Long political careers tainted by scandal.  High negative ratings.  A tendency by each to see vast right wing (or left wing) conspiracies, and therefore to compensate by surrounding themselves with trusted operatives, sycophants, and strap-hangers. A desire to appear tough, whether it’s about standing up to terrorists or communists.

After eight years of “No drama Obama,” perhaps the American people prefer a return to the paranoid style of politics of Richard Nixon — and Hillary Clinton.  A style that’s economical with the truth, led by a person who believes himself — or herself — to be the smartest and toughest person in the room.

But I already saw how that ended in 1974; I’m not voting for a repeat, even if the dramatic lead this time around is female.