For a presidential candidate who apparently has so many advisers, consultants and apparatchiks at her disposal that even her entourage has an entourage, are we to believe there wasn’t a single flunky du jour who had the gumption to tell Hillary Clinton that accepting at least $675,000 in speaking fees from Wall Street banking Sasquatch Goldman Sachs was a tremendously dim-bulb idea?
After all, Clinton’s main rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, has predicated his entire campaign on attacking what he views as an egregious chasm of income inequality across the nation. And what better choice for the Fortune magazine robber baron centerfold than Hillary Clinton, who pulled in $11 million in 2014-15 delivering canned speeches before groups of silk-stocking swells?
Once again, Clinton has been the prime architect of her own public-relations debacle. First, there was the ill-advised decision to forgo using a government email account during her tenure as secretary of state, opting to use a personal email server that apparently could be hacked by any 13-year-old techno geek sitting in Fond du Lac with a 1977 Radio Shack TRS-80 computer.
Now comes this latest imbroglio as Sanders hammers away at Clinton’s dubious speaking fees paid by the very people who contributed to the 2008 Great Recession. Are you beginning to get the impression that the fellow traveler Clintonista hangers-on surrounding the candidate possess all the political savvy for the optics of campaign-trail banana peels of Mr. Magoo?
There was never any doubt when she left the State Department in 2012 that Hillary Clinton would be a presidential contender in 2016. Yet it never dawned on anyone in her camp, or the candidate herself, that the perception she was grubbing for money among the nation’s most elitist corporate titans would look really déclassé?
Or consider the $325,000 check Clinton cashed from Cisco Systems for a speech while the median household income in Iowa is estimated to be about $52,000 — for a full year’s work. Or put another way, Clinton probably earned $52,000 by the time she got to the sixth paragraph of her Cisco speech.
Sanders has offered up the cheeky observation that for the $675,000 Goldman Sachs paid Clinton for three speeches, the oratory must have soared to Winston Churchill meets Martin Luther King meets Ronald Reaganesque-like flights of rhetorical brilliance.
And yet so far at least, Clinton carefully has managed to suppress her obviously multimillion-dollar speaking skills on the hustings, perhaps trying to lure her opponents into a false sense of security by delivering her public remarks in a tone of voice more reminiscent of an amped-up Yoko Ono.
Clinton has pushed back against any cruel accusation that simply because she collected $11 million in less than two years from a who’s who of Fortune 500 companies, if elected president all that money will not buy a scintilla of favor from her administration. Can we have a show of hands from anyone who actually believes that? Chelsea! Your vote doesn’t count.
It’s rather doubtful Clinton provided any juicy details of her years as the nation’s top diplomat beyond perhaps revealing for the first time Vladimir Putin’s CIA code name, which happens to be Mr. Stinky Pants. After all, Clinton was paid $5 million to write a stultifying book about her time at the State Department, which was about as candidly forthcoming as a Hardy Boys mystery.
Fairly or not, Hillary Clinton’s biggest yoke to bear on the hustings is that she is seen as a conniving pol who believes the rules don’t apply to her or Bill, and that neither one of them could be trusted not to filch your unattended bar change while you visited the restroom.
And now Hillary Clinton wants you to buy into the fabulist jibber-jabber that merely because the country’s leading corporations forked over $11 million to suffer through warmed-over, canned speeches for 20 minutes or so, these thinly veiled alms won’t realize a nice return on access to power should she ascend to the White House?
It isn’t as if the Clintons were so desperate for money that Hillary had to hit the salt mines of the speech circuit to cover the couple’s monthly arugula expenses. Since he has left the White House it is estimated Bill Clinton has made $100 million in speaking fees.
An already affluent Hillary Clinton could have foresworn the hefty speaking fees, or donated them all to charity. After all, the speeches afforded her the priceless chance to get herself before the nation’s most influential business figures to appear presidential.
Instead, the money spoke louder than statesmanship.
© 2016 Tampa Bay Times