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No depression



Over the years, Bill and Hillary Clinton have been subjected to accusations regarding so many fake “scandals” that it’s easy to dismiss further claims of impropriety and corruption as just more of the same. But as Jon Chait points out, it’s becoming evident that some of the things the Clintons have been doing over the past few years actually smell pretty bad:

The news today about the Clintons all fleshes out, in one way or another, their lack of interest in policing serious conflict-of-interest problems that arise in their overlapping roles:

The New York Times has a report about the State Department’s decision to approve the sale of Uranium mines to a Russian company that donated $2.35 million to the Clinton Global Initiative, and that a Russian investment bank promoting the deal paid Bill $500,000 for a speech in Moscow.

The Washington Post reports that Bill Clinton has received $26 million in speaking fees from entities that also donated to the Clinton Global Initiative.

The Washington Examiner reports, “Twenty-two of the 37 corporations nominated for a prestigious State Department award — and six of the eight ultimate winners — while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State were also donors to the Clinton family foundation.”

And Reuters reports, “Hillary Clinton’s family’s charities are refiling at least five annual tax returns after a Reuters review found errors in how they reported donations from governments, and said they may audit other Clinton Foundation returns in case of other errors.”

The Clinton campaign is batting down the darkest and most conspiratorial interpretation of these stories, and where this all leads remains to be seen. But the most positive interpretation is not exactly good.

Chait notes the most positive interpretation is that, in the post-Clinton presidency years, and especially in the years when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, the Clintons were sloppy about details, greedy about money, and remarkably cavalier about potential conflicts of interest. And you don’t have to be the RNC’s media apparatus, i.e., FOX News et. al., to find more dire interpretations plausible.

For progressives, all this is, to put it mildly, depressing. Working to get someone with Hillary Clinton’s political views elected would require a certain amount of nose-holding even if she and her husband were above reproach, ethically speaking.

Under the circumstances, a race between Clinton and, say, Scott Walker is going to be akin to trying to acquire a sprained ankle instead of a major heart attack.

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  • SP

    Given the incestuous nature of business and philanthropy I’d like to see a more rigorous analysis which of course is something that will never ever ever appear in a mainstream newspaper like the NYT. What percent of corporate connected donors to the Clinton foundation, or funders of speaking gigs, did not appear to receive any special treatment (of those that conceivably had an issue affected by State)? What fraction of companies that benefitted from State actions had no connection to the Clintons? The problem is that all this shit is business as usual these days so of course there’s something that can be suggested as inappropriate, but I’d want to be convinced that there’s actually a significant connection between funders and benefits they received.

    • ThrottleJockey

      ITs true that influence peddling is a fancy word for you’ve-got-bupkis but it doesn’t mean that we want to elect someone to the presidency who has no ability to control themselves even when they know they’re going to be under a microscope. Chatting up the dictator of Khazakstan just so your foundation could land several million while if you keep your nose clean you have a chance to land your wife in the Oval Office? WTF? Bill couldn’t have screwed Hillary any worse than if he invited Monica back for Round 2 now that he can legally get some authentic Cuban cigars again.

    • Pat

      You know, I’ve never really seen a similar work up of the Bush family dealings. I guess it’s bad manners to hold people like the Bushes to the same standards we hold the Clintons.

  • jeer9

    I’ve never seen you looking so bad
    My funky one
    You tell me that your superfine mind
    Has come undone

    Any major dude with half a heart
    Surely will tell you my friend
    Any minor world that breaks apart
    Falls together again

  • Buckeye623

    Here’s the problem, however.

    The measurement of “bad” isn’t against a baseline of zero. The measurement is.. how, precisely, is it MORE than what Republicans have done in the past, are doing in the present, and will do in the future? And, for that.. even Republican hacks have nothing.

    • Anon21

      This “measurement” seems to just be a convenient way to opt out of thinking about what Clinton’s actually done. Voting is about picking the candidate whose policy positions match your own, but it doesn’t replace analysis and condemnation of bad behavior.

      • Barry_D

        No, it’s facing the world as it is, not as Nader painted it.

        • Anon21

          Again, bullshit. On two levels: first, Nader said there were no important policy differences between the parties. The Clintons’ tawdry influence-peddling has nothing to do with policy. Second, as I said above, you need to be able to hold two ideas of moderate complexity in your head at once: Clinton is far and away the best candidate in the upcoming presidential election and the person that any serious leftist must vote for, and Clinton is very ethically compromised and has displayed poor judgment in mixing her private and public lives.

        • Srsly Dad Y

          I don’t understand the pushback against Anon21’s point, which is obviously right. In an alternative world in which, say, John Edwards wasn’t a sleaze and was running again, we’d all be saying Clinton was a laughably compromised corporate centrist and inept campaigner who had used up her nine lives’ worth of unforced errors just by putting herself in a position for this stuff to come out. (Btw, I see the foundation will be refiling its tax returns and undergoing an outside audit, so there are weeks and months of more fun to come.) But because she will obviously be the Dem nominee (and Whitewater was a fake scandal, and Bill lied but shouldn’t have been impeached), we’re supposed to keep saying, “Nothing to see here.” There is something to see, it’s right there, it’s what Chait said.

    • Derelict

      Our politics have come to a place where our parties and our media will only allow candidates who are badly compromised. Yes, Hillary may have allowed her influence to be purchased. As compared to, say, Scott Walker or Ted Cruz who have sold their personages to single buyers, at least HRC is spreading it around a bit.

      On a side note, as much as the media is drooling for Warren to get in the race because they want a good bitch fight, I guarantee the media would start smacking Warren down as an ultra-extreme leftist worse that Stalin and Pol Pot combined the instant she looked like a serious contender.

      • cleek

        how is, for example, Obama badly compromised ?

        • Derelict

          Oh, is Obama running again?

          • cleek

            ah, see, i didn’t realize your theory only applied to things that happened in the past 14 months. clearly, my bad.

        • Pseudonym

          Do Tony Rezko and Bill Ayers count? (No, but to the media they do.)

      • Pseudonym

        Would start? Your use of the modal auxiliary verb is unnecessary; the media already sees her as the left’s equivalent of Ted Cruz thanks to her advocacy of a constitutional amendment against gay marriage restoring some banking regulations and being concerned with income inequality.

  • royko

    For progressives, all this is, to put it mildly, depressing. Working to get someone with Hillary Clinton’s political views elected would require a certain amount of nose-holding even if she and her husband were above reproach, ethically speaking.

    I have my issues with both Clintons, but this seems over the top to me. I’d love a more progressive candidate, but her positions don’t seem to be that out of line with those of most Democrats, particularly ones with a shot at the nomination. She’s not ideal, but she’s also not Cuomo for God’s sake.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      i see people crab about having to hold their noses while they vote, and wonder why the fuck *they* aren’t in politics. i don’t think there’s ever been a *surplus* of good progressives running for office

      • Karen24

        Back before the glaciers receded I was a volunteer for Ann Richards’ two campaigns for governor. During the second campaign I made a lot of phone calls to supporters and about a third of them refused to do anything in 1994 because “Ann has been such a disappointment.” Since that time I’ve wanted to berate each and every one of them with “Now see what you’ve done. Do you like the Iraq War? The economic collapse? Every single death in Iraq and since then is YOUR FAULT.” And yes, I do blame the “progressives” who stayed home so Bush II could win in 1994 for the catastrophe that was the Bush presidency.

        Seriously, unless there is some evidence of actual bribery — and more than this — keep your mouths shut. The Republicans never criticize their own and the Republicans WIN. Copy what works.

        • JL

          While I get what you’re saying (and believe in harm reduction voting), ultimately the Republicans are responsible for the shitty things the Republicans have done.

          Also, I bet some of the people that you want to berate, could just as easily come out and berate a lot of Democratic voters for not protesting, not writing their congresspeople, not joining or organizing a union, etc. It turns out that voting, while important, is only one means of building and exercising power.

          The Republicans never criticize their own and the Republicans WIN.

          Um, really? There’s a reason that RINO is a way better-known epithet than DINO. The Republican right wing rose to power by continually challenging their own party, for decades. And no, I will vote for Clinton if she gets nominated, but I will NOT keep my mouth shut about things I don’t like about her.

      • JL

        Maybe someday. Seems a bit reckless to do as an aspiring academic who’s not yet at the stage of getting a permanent position.

        Seriously, though, people shouldn’t have to run for office to be taken seriously about their complaints. Do we do this for other jobs? When people complain about their managers, few people say “Well if you think all the managers are so bad, become a manager yourself.” Nobody except for police-brutality-apologist douchenozzles tells people to go become cops themselves if they don’t like how they’re being policed. Nobody tells people who complain about incompetence at the DMV that if they think the DMV workers are so incompetent then they should be the change they want to see in the world and get a job at the DMV.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          weirdly enough i think we’d have better cops if better people wanted to be cops. we’d have better politicians if better people wanted to be politicians. a lot of what people complain about righteously comes off as whiny to me because in the end the only way i ever get things done my way is to do them myself. but since there’s a great many things i can’t do i have to accept the faults of the people who can

          • JL

            But when their faults affect me I don’t have to accept them. I get to complain, and that’s okay. For a number of reasons I don’t want to be a cop, but I still get to complain about cops.

            It is true that we would have better cops if better people wanted to be cops, but that is a very different sentiment than, say, looking at an anti-police-brutality protest and wondering why the fuck those people don’t become cops since it’s not like there’s a surplus of reasonable people wanting to be cops. In both this and the politician case the question of why so many good people don’t want to do that job, and whether society can address this, seems both interesting and relevant.

    • Weed Atman

      How is Clinton meaningfully different from Cuomo on the merits? Only thing I can think of is that Clinton has never (so far as I know) stabbed her own party in the back like Cuomo has in the New York State Legislature. Granted, that’s an important difference.

      • Cuomo openly wants to rule with Republicans. This is a man who does not want anyone to the left of him in power. You’ve got to be kidding me comparing the two. I’m no Hillary fan, but Cuomo is significantly worse.

  • Hogan

    Vote for the crook–it’s important

    • Weed Atman

      No problem, I’ll take Edwards over Clinton.

      • Hogan

        You go into the general with the candidate you have, not the candidate you wish you had.

        • I’m holding out for Matt Santos.

          • Ahuitzotl

            not FDR?

  • Morse Code for J

    As someone who voted for Nader in Florida back in 2000, I have no problem voting for Secretary Clinton or working in some capacity for her campaign at the local level if it prevents the junior members of the team surrounding George W. Bush from returning to the White House.

    • I’m glad there’s at least one Naderite from fifteen years who has climbed back to sanity.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks

        Such a rare thing, too, given the vigorous Nader campaigns of 2004, 2008, and 2012!

      • ExpatChad


      • djw

        Of course virtually all of them did, by the numbers; his vote share collapsed after 2000 after reality demonstrated how tragically reckless his vanity campaign was. The dead-enders you find occasionally on the internet aren’t representative.

  • joe from Lowell

    Wait, the Clintons look ethically dodgy, but you can’t really pin them down on anything?

    Gimme a minute. I gotta take this all in.

    I better sit down.

    • Hogan

      It’s a world gone mad.

      • I think the events of this millennium, to date, have taught us not to expect any treasure at the big W.

    • SP

      I thought newspapers applied standards after getting burned so many times- no more anonymous quotes without explaining why they’re giving anonymity, no using “some say” without at least qualifying what the “some” means, not using bullshit passive construction like “xxx isn’t illegal or proven, but it gives the appearance of/raises the question of…” I think the Times burned at least two of those.

      • efgoldman

        I thought newspapers applied standards after getting burned so many times

        Mwa ha ha ha….
        Sure. That’s why they keep people like Krauthammer, Will, Kristol, Fournier, Gerson….

  • Tracy Lightcap

    Supposedly, after his impeachment failed, Bill told some Republican members of Congress that, if they came after him again, “…they’d best be bringing some Kryptonite.” Same for Hillary.

    This story has no legs at all. The problem is that too many people like Hillary.

    • cleek

      This story has no legs at all.

      it’s been running around for months now. that the left is only learning about it now is an indication of something other than the story’s ‘legs’.

    • catclub

      The problem is that too many people like Hillary.

      Just not in the village.

      The Clintons have been attacked for almost 25 years and are more popular now than when they started – with those people outside the village.

      It was actually a Darrell Hammond SNL sketch in which ‘Bill Clinton’ says “I am bulletproof, … Next time, you better bring kryptonite.”

  • Weed Atman

    Shame about the 22nd Amendment. I’d greatly prefer a third Obama term to Clinton or frankly any other plausible Democratic candidate should she somehow not survive the onslaught of scandals, real or imagined.

    • Gregor Sansa

      How does the 22nd amendment prevent Michelle from running?

      But seriously folks… she kicks ass, while Bill has no kicking ass in his future and precious little in his past. And without going all Dowd, the spouses can have, I think, a meaningfully different influence on the tendencies of Barack and Hillary administrations.

  • hidflect

    Maybe progressives need to throw the game to win the series.

    • Nick056

      Maybe we don’t want to live in a country where the NLRA gets repealed, the capital gains tax goes on a “five year” holiday, the only thing preserving Social Security as we know it is a filibuster, and CJ Roberts gets to induct the 1987 Harvard Federalist society chapter president into a 30-year Court tenure?

      Nah, that’s just silly.

      • ExpatChad

        There’s a reason I left the US to live in SE Asia. I intend to die here. But later.

  • Nick056

    In First in His Class, the only decent biography of Bill Clinton, Maraniss has this to say about Hillary’s attitude toward conflicts of interest as First Lady of Arkansas:

    Hillary Rodham Clinton […] saw no conflict in her actions. As a lawyer, she said she was acting professionally, dissociating herself from fees gathered by Rose [Law Firm] in its dealings with the state, giving her best advice to clients, whether they were the FDIC or the Madison Guaranty. As a wife and mother, she was trying to bring her family financial security. As a political advisor and pro bono public servant, she was devoting her time and intellect to the betterment of the state. Her motives always seemed practical — she was looking for solutions — but there was also a sanctimonious aspect to it that tended to blind her and her husband to appearances of what they were doing. [Bill] Clinton considered her the ethical pillar of their partnership. If she handled a matter for him, he assumed it would be handled extraordinarily well […] Hillary dismissed those who questioned her actions as quibblers who did not appreciate that what she was doing for the greater good.”

    The upshot is that the Clintons have operated in this financial triangle — their personal dealings and savings, their private consulting or charitable works, and their public service positions — for more than 30 years at this point. And it has frequently seemed ethically fraught. And they always get sanctimonious about it, as Maraniss wrote 20 years ago. But despite all the investigations — despite Whitewater being the mother of all probes, premised on uncovering all the bodies they’d surely buried as they’d used government to enrich themselves — we’ve always gotten a big nada. Nothing. The thing is, they don’t appear to be crooked. That’s just too disappointing for some people to accept.

    • jamesepowell

      But we didn’t get a big nada. We got a crippled presidency and a corporate press/media that became the willing amplifiers of right-wing propaganda. The latter gave rise to the War on Gore and the Bush/Cheney Junta. We will not recover from that disaster till long after I am dead.

      The people that make these allegations of scandal against the Clintons know there is nothing wrong, but they don’t care. They know that the press/media will repeat their allegations with eyebrows raised and the nudge-nudge, wink-wink and the public will believe there is something wrong.

      It works for the right wing, it works for the press/media. If it didn’t they would stop doing it.

      • Nick056

        The “crippled presidency,” such as it was, had a lot more to do with losing the House and Senate, the mess in Somalia, and (later) the Lewinsky scandal, which was an offshoot of the Whitewater probe that had nothing to do with money and everything to with Bill Clinton’s real moral and ethical failings. I think that in terms of Clinton’s loss of governing capacity, his awful transition, his misplaced faith in the bully pulpit, and his overconfidence in Hillary’s skills on healthcare all cost him more than the perception that he should appoint a special prosecutor to review Whitewater or that he was generally unethical with money.

        I won’t dispute that the probe was the most chronic irritant in his whole presidency and crowded out his message; he called authorizing the probe the dumbest thing he ever did in politics. But I think its effect on crippling his presidency has grown in the telling and I’m not sure his presidency was any more crippled than that any other President who had both houses of Congress for two years and then lost them in a historical defeat, amidst an approach to foreign intervention that people widely perceived as a failure.

        As far as the War on Gore, I don’t really see what that has to do with this aspect of the Clinton package. Do we really think the NYT doesn’t run with the “invented the Internet” horsepuckey if Clinton is more scrupulous about separating his personal financial dealings from his political and administrative responsibilities? Do we really think “earth tones” and “taught him how to be a man” melts away if no one ever heard the name jim McDougal? I don’t.

        • Karen24

          Um, don’t you see that the Lewinsky scandal was directly and exclusively caused by the constant investigations that produced nothing? Please tell me how many Congressmen DON”T have at least one mistress, including the religious nut jobs? (Among the ones who don’t, how many are tireless advocates for policies that do nothing but harm women, such as abortion bans or stupid programs to “encourage marriage?”)

          Without the smog from the fake scandals, the Republicans are left with running against extremely popular and extremely successful policies. To quote John Steward, “our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity.” Many people vote based on a perception that one candidate is cleaner than another, even when the clean candidate intends to enact policies the voter actively hates.

          • Becker

            That wasn’t John Stewart but the Onion, in a moment of darkly comic prescience.

          • rm

            Every single leader of the crusade to impeach Clinton had a mistress at the time. Newt is now married to his.

            Hillary is going to get the same treatment because of the effect it has on right-wing voters, whose fires need to be kept stoked with an apocalyptic narrative of evildoing Democrat monsters.

            So, yes, the points about the slimy appearance of the Clinton philanthropy/policy/gov’t service/speechmaking industry are true, but they go up against a party that has figures like Rick Scott, a genuine thief. This is how it all works — it looks slimy, but the Clintons seem not to be doing anything wrong in the context of a universally slimy political system.

        • jamesepowell

          As far as the War on Gore, I don’t really see what that has to do with this aspect of the Clinton package.

          I have to believe you’ve never encountered Bob Somerby or the work he’s done explaining exactly what you don’t really see.

          Short summary: As soon as the impeachment failed, the same people who had been chasing Bill & Hillary for six years switched their target to Al Gore. It worked. It changed history in a very big way. We still suffer from it is more ways than a short summary can enumerate. Hit that link.

    • wengler

      Nada? We didn’t get verification of batshit insane conspiracies but we did have plenty of evidence of the rich and privileged helping each other out. Bill Clinton’s last-minute pardons come to mind.

  • Becker

    So everybody from the Times to Chait is just going to fall for this Heritage Foundation hit job?

    Schweizer has a long history of fudge and nonsense in service to the conservative cause. His career is a pure creature of the well-funded ideological terrarium of the modern conservative movement. His work is on behalf of something called the Government Accountability Institute, an oppo-research outfit richly funded by all the usual suspects. His book, then, starts in something of a hole, credibility-wise, at least by any standard of journalistic vetting that I ever heard of. But neither the Times nor the Post seems reluctant at all to pile into the same mud hole as Fox and Breitbart’s Mausoleum For The Chronically Unemployable.


    • jamesepowell

      They are not falling for anything. They are enthusiastically doing exactly what they have wanted to do. And you know what will help fuel the whole thing? The fact that the Obama administration is pretty much scandal free. They miss the drama.

      • Becker

        I’ve always been a bit grateful that I wasn’t old enough to be politically aware for most of the Clinton Derangement during the 90s. But now I get to live it all for the first time, just like the rest of you already have! This is going to be unbearable.

        • tsam

          It wasn’t as bad as it is for Obama, but it was pretty awful.

          • rm

            The comparison depends on what you mean by “bad.” Obama gets the racist lunacy and Mitch McConnell’s innovation of universally obstructing absolutely everything they can obstruct and then blaming Obama for it. Clinton got endless investigations over nothing, and an impeachment over a moral failing that all of his impeachers were equally guilty of, but the Republican Congress did pass things and confirm people during his tenure.

            What was worse for Clinton was the entire news media, from the New York Times to the most crazy right-wing website to this new thing called Fox News, all singing in chorus for eight years about the terrible, nefarious scandals (drug running! murders! private armies!) which never could be found. Obama gets accused on Fox and Facebook of being a Muslim terrorist who blew up a nuke in Charleston. Clinton got accused of being a drug-running murderer in the New York Times. Similar stories, but Clinton’s got better venues.

        • Nick never Nick

          It’s not Clinton Derangement Syndrome when a paper documents deep financial ties between private individuals, foundations, and government officials.

          Out of curiosity, what possible mechanism is there to prevent corruption? If the answer is “Hillary is ethical”, then that is not a good answer.

          • ColBatGuano

            Please explain how these “deep ties” amount to corruption. And how what the Clintons did was any different than all the other instances like this. That Times article was a work of art in the “appearance of impropriety” oeuvre. It implied that the State Dept. was the sole agency responsible for approving that uranium deal. Funny how they didn’t bother checking with the 8 other federal departments that had to sign off as well.

            • Nick never Nick

              Certainly, I will — you seem to have missed them. Here’s a quote from above:

              “The New York Times has a report about the State Department’s decision to approve the sale of Uranium mines to a Russian company that donated $2.35 million to the Clinton Global Initiative, and that a Russian investment bank promoting the deal paid Bill $500,000 for a speech in Moscow.”

              These are deep ties — would you consider someone who donated 2.35 million dollars to be someone you had more than a passing acquaintance with? Or the bank that paid you half a million dollars personally?

              I work for a large nonprofit, we’re supported by pharma companies — there are things called ‘deliverables’ that we get in exchange for a few thousand bucks, stuff like promotion of their logo, etc. What deliverables do you think a Russian company interested in buying uranium mines wants? Or why do they care what Bill has to say? But if they’re giving away money, there are deliverables. Or is this just a rare instance of a company deciding “Hey! Let’s give away some money! I like the work the Clintons do, it’s really worthwhile.”

              I don’t think that you understood my point. There is a thing called ‘corruption’, it involves giving money for access to the services of power. Apparently Hillary Clinton is not corrupt, because it’s not a story when companies give her foundation or her husband large amounts of money — but what are the mechanisms that prevent her from being corrupt? Her honest statement that she’s not corrupt? Her sincerity? Mechanisms are important.

              Or put another way, what are the mechanisms that will prevent another politician, say Jeb Bush, from deciding that Clinton has figured out a pretty good way to make bank? Would it be corrupt if Jeb Bush set up a foundation and had his wife earn 26 million in speaking fees from companies that had an interest in his governing decisions?

              As for your last point, we don’t live in a system where you get to take money in exchange for favours or access just because OTHER actors are present. That’s just silly. “Sure, he bribed me! But other agencies had to sign off too, your Honour!”

              • joe from Lowell

                Would it be corrupt if Jeb Bush set up a foundation and had his wife earn 26 million in speaking fees from companies that had an interest in his governing decisions?

                No, it would be corrupt if Jeb Bush did anything in his role as a public official in exchange for those speaking fees.

                What you’re talking about here is the appearance of a conflict of interest, which is two steps removed from corruption. Criticizing Hillary for not avoiding the appearance of a conflict is perfectly appropriate. Bootstrapping that into a charge of corruption – if you go back and forth between making it and withdrawing it – isn’t.

                • Nick never Nick

                  So how do you identify corruption, then? Because right now it sounds like racism, where any racist word or deed can be excused with “It may have seemed racist, but I’m not racist”.

                  Again, I’ve asked twice now — what are the mechanisms that prevent corruption, if Clinton’s behaviour is acceptable? And how do you prove corruption?

                • joe from Lowell

                  So how do you identify corruption, then? Because right now it sounds like racism, where any racist word or deed can be excused with “It may have seemed racist, but I’m not racist”.

                  The racism comparison is interesting. First of all, racist “word” comparisons don’t work at all as an analogy, because the question of racist content is actually found in the impression it creates, where in the appearance/conflict/corruption distinction, the difference between appearances and substance is the whole ballgame. Public ethics standards urge you to avoid the appearance of a conflict, while they’ll actually throw you in federal prison for decades for actual, substantive corruption.

                  The racist act is more relevant comparison. How do we tell if an act that might appear racist actually is racist? We look to see if it had actual, material implications. In fact, under the disparate impact standard, racist material outcomes are litigable even without apparent racist expression or intent.

                  And corruption works the same way. How would we identify public corruption? We’d find a material quid-pro-quo. People get convicted under this standard all the time.

                  What we certainly wouldn’t do is look at every case where there was an appearance of a conflict and assume ourselves all the way to public corruption. That would be silly.

              • ColBatGuano

                Please tell me how the other 8 members of the committee that approved the uranium deal were compromised. Or were there legitimate reasons for its approval?

                • Nick never Nick

                  An interesting question — if I bribe one juror, but 11 jurors go unbribed, is that legal? Do the 11 unbribed jurors make the bribe OK? And if the 11 unbribed jurors agree with the bribed juror, does that then erase the criminality of the bribe?

                  Same question: what mechanism, besides purity of heart, keeps this from being corrupt?

                • joe from Lowell

                  An interesting question — if I bribe one juror, but 11 jurors go unbribed, is that legal?

                  You’re assuming your conclusion – that this “juror” has been bribed.

                  And you’re assuming that based only on her decision.

                  While not applying that same standard to anyone else who arrived at the same decision.

    • Jackov

      OMG 16% of the companies that paid Clinton to speak to the them also donated at least $10K to his foundation. At least $10K! Scandalous

      Some companies which were nominated by US embassies for a State Department award no one has ever heard of, also donated to the Clinton Foundation. A number of these companies were also nominated and won during the previous administration. Shocking

      The newspapers are weasels for making deals with an operative and using his hit piece book as the impetus for their expeditions and Chait is a weasel for linking to non-stories as evidence for his slam.

      • Derelict

        Don’t you understand!?!?!? There are connections here!!! Just follow the lines, man! The NYT is just doing their job so that we’re not left with unexamined connections like this one from long ago:

        Nixon had a dog named Checkers, that died.
        Lincoln played checkers and had a horse that died.
        More than coincidence?

  • Socrets

    As someone who kept tabs on the Peruvian election between Fujimori’s daughter and Humala, I think an election between Hillary and Walker or Bush is probably better described as a choice between AIDS and cancer.

    • Adam.379

      I have to type this post with my tongue cause that take was so hot it burned my hands off.

    • That is just a colossally stupid comment. Really, really idiotic.

  • tsam

    Shirley after the last R nominee openly admitted to stashing money overseas to dodge taxes, the Repubs will leave this one alone. I’m sure they don’t want to appear hypocritical.

    • Brad Nailer


      I used to think that, hypocrisy being the one sin Jesus would not forgive and Republicans being all good Christians, they would be shamed by their own hypocrisy. “I was so much older then . . .”

  • socraticsilence

    Honestly, what I said to some friends in 2012, holds true today Hillary is at best equal (and honestly significantly worse) on almost every issue Obama is good on while at the same time being way worse on those he’s weak on (civil liberties, being overly aggressive at times internationally).

    Despite all this what’s even more striking is how much worse Hillary is at the basic political skills that a Presidential candidate much less a President needs- the whole Clinton operation just seems so freaking sloppy at times when contrasted with Obama’s not to mention the lack of anything approaching a rapid response to crises– its like watching an old computer try and run a new OS– it kind of gets to the same place a more modern iteration does, but slowly, with a ton of effort and often in a defective manner.

  • Manju

    I can’t believe there is really no viable Democratic alternative to Clinton. How did it come to this?

    • JohnT

      That is an interesting question. My guesses would be some mixture:
      1. Hillary Clinton is in fact quite an effective politician, with a staff who are playing the pre-primary game very well
      2. Especially after Obama, people are keen on another ‘first’, and a woman is obviously the way to go (I notice the Republican field includes 2 Hispanics, for example). Outside more sophisticated countries (in Europe, Canada), female political firsts are typically spouses or daughters of popular leaders (see India, Burma, Indonesia, Philipines, Argentina and many others…). Clinton is actually spectacularly well qualified by those latter standards.
      3. Heavily interlinked with 1 & 2 is the fact that Americans seem to be getting ever more invested in Dynastic politics – Bush v Clinton, round 3! This is deeper rooted than is generally recognised, because Obama is an exception, but e.g. Romney was the son of a notable governor as presidential prospect, Gore the son of a Senator, McCain the son of a well-known 4-star admiral, W the son of a president, HW the son of a Senator. It’s becoming truly endemic, for some reason.

      • Derelict

        Another HUGE factor in this is the media’s refusal to give any oxygen to any candidate other than HRC (or Warren, if she chooses to run).

        For example, how many know that Martin O’Malley is running? “Who?” you say? But O’Malley has been on the hustings in Iowa for weeks now with almost no notice from the media.

        • JohnT

          I guess what I was saying is that is a symptom – the cause is the fact that Clinton and her staffers are much better at playing the media, and that from a media perspective the dynastic and first-woman-president angles on the Clinton candidacy make for juicier copy than O’Malley, who in previous elections would have been a perfectly plausible candidate.

      • BigHank53

        …Americans seem to be getting ever more invested in Dynastic politics… It’s becoming truly endemic, for some reason.

        We love aristocrats. You can’t have aristocrats without an aristocracy. Aristocracies aren’t terribly popular with the general public, but they’re easy for the media to cover (short explanations and there’s never any investigating to do) and the rich love ’em and the famous love ’em and if you’re already an aristocrat you love ’em because who really wants to work for a living?

        Money distorts everything. It attracts more money and power and fame in a positive feedback loop. Left unchecked, forty years from now they’ll just auction off Senate seats…but very few people will be allowed to bid.

        • Derelict

          Money distorts everything.

          This is the most salient fact of American politics today. Money actually does have a gravitational field–it not only attracts more money, it also attracts people.

          Worse, Americans worship money and equate the possession of money with wisdom, intelligence, morality, leadership, and authority. We defer to money and give it priority in all we do.

          And thus does it warp our society.

    • Thlayli

      For the last year, the Balloon Juice comment section has been a continual chorus of “WAAAAHHHHH!! SOMEBODY SAVE US FROM THAT HORRIBLE RIGHT-WING WARMONGER, HILLARY CLINTON!!!1!” And yet nobody seems willing to take on the role of Perfect Progressive Candidate.

      Maybe people can read polls and see that, lefty blog commentors notwithstanding, Clinton really is who “the base” of the party wants.

      (Can I just say that the constant references to “the Clintons” sound awfully sexist to me? Why are y’all so convinced that Bill is the Svengali here, and Hillary isn’t thinking for herself?)

      • Manju

        (I blame Brangelina)

      • Murc

        Why are y’all so convinced that Bill is the Svengali here, and Hillary isn’t thinking for herself?

        Why does it have to involve Bill being a svengali?

        People say “the Clintons” because the Clintons come as a set. They’ve always worked closely together in all of their politically-related public endeavors. Bill was giving Hillary major policy roles in his administration, for crying out loud; she was the face of his health care push, and that wasn’t by accident, that was by design.

        There’s no reason to think that trend won’t continue.

        Now, there’s nothing wrong with that at all. But it is, you know… a true fact.

        • postmodulator

          They’ve always worked closely together in all of their politically-related public endeavors

          I don’t perceive that to be the case with regard to Hillary’s Senate seat or tenure at the State department.

          Campaigning, sure. And it seems inconceivable that an HRC White House wouldn’t find something for WJC to do. But I don’t know that it’s the case that they always “come as a set.”

          • cleek

            I don’t perceive that to be the case with regard to Hillary’s Senate seat or tenure at the State department.

            take another look at the NYT stuff in the quote at the top.

            • postmodulator

              Public endeavours.

          • TopsyJane

            Back in ’92 the Clintons were upfront about their political teamwork, more so than any other aspiring presidential couple, and it was clear HRC was going to be doing more in the Administration than the usual wifey-type First Lady projects. (Noting for the record that I don’t think the president’s wife is obligated to do much of anything – heck, if she wants to stay home Bess Truman-style, more power to her.) But as in some ways HRC’s role in the Clinton Administrations was/is exaggerated, it doesn’t seem that Bill is all that entwined with Hillaryland these days, and gossip reported that he was not in favor of another run for the White House. However,it wasn’t his decision to make. Such is the fate of the political spouse…..

      • JL

        I’d be a little surprised at this point if Bernie Sanders doesn’t run.

        • Pseudonym

          How far is someone who doesn’t even belong to the party going to get in a Democratic primary?

      • rea

        Anyway, everyone always knew that Hillary was the brains of the pair

        • Manju

          Indeed…they were the inspiration for that Pet Shop Boys song.

  • Happy Jack

    This is just an attempt to derail Hillary’s Power to the People tour. I suggest she wear a trucker hat to combat these slurs of being under the sway of the wealthy.

  • Karen24

    Every politician or official in every form of government that has ever existed in every single human society throughout all of our history enrich themselves and their families and friends. ALL OF THEM. There is no form of government, no set of rules, and no magic formula to prevent this. The difference is that some politicians allow the rest of us a bit of the gravy and others impoverish us while in office. Clinton will let the skinny hogs up to the trough and the Republicans will take away what little the rest of us have.

    • JohnT

      That’s all quite true but there is question of degree – I think most ex-presidents in the modern era have done paid speaking etc, and I’m sure Obama will as well. But as far as I can tell they (e.g. Carter, Ford) have earned millions, not tens of millions, and seeing a politician enrich himself to quite that extent can be distasteful. Tony Blair in the UK has the same issue.

      • Ahuitzotl

        they (e.g. Carter, Ford) have earned millions, not tens of millions

        That appears to be largely a function of inflation, plus a certain amount of growth in the size of the market for expresidential speechifying

  • politicalfootball

    Even if laws and norms are just and legitimate, there’s a huge problem if they are enforced in a discriminatory fashion. We see this with minorities and drug crime, and we see it with the Clintons. If Scott Walker got caught accepting money from the Kochs in exchange for political favors, or if a white person likes to stroke up a joint in his or her home, everyone understands that this is just the way things are.

    So it sucks. I think Chait and Campos aren’t wrong to point out the dubious nature of the Clintons’ behavior, but we have to remember the context.

    • Nick never Nick

      I’m not sure what you’re saying — do you think that looking at whether the Clinton’s financial dealings are corrupt is similar to racist law enforcement practices that target black people?

      The way I see it, if you don’t want Scott Walker accepting money from the Koch’s for political favours, then you better damn well care if the Clintons are accepting money for political favours.

  • Steve LaBonne

    Some people apparently have been living in a cave for decades, and therefore don’t realize that our entire government has been operating like this for a long time. No, I don’t like it either, but pretending that the Clintons have done anything different from what almost any member of Congress does every day (and what the Supreme Count has pontificated doesn’t create any appearance of impropriety!) is ridiculous.

    • Aaron Morrow

      Exactly. You literally have to believe the RNC’s media apparatus, i.e., FOX News et. al., to find Chait’s dire interpretations plausible. Either Campos does buy into Peter Schweizer allegations or he didn’t check the sources.

    • louislouis

      Not singling you out here. But while there’s a patina of truth to the “everybody does it” rationale, there’s really no one on par with the Clintons for cashing in post-Presidency with a billion-dollar global brand. Remember they had to create the post-presidential pension to prevent the Trumans from being poor (actually poor, not Hillary-we-we-down-to-our-last-5-mil-poor). The point is they have been sucking up every dollar put in front of them for the last 15 years while shrugging off even the most basic methods of conflict-of-interest avoidance. The conclusion for most people is that these are greedy people who feel entitled to cash in to the nth degree on their public service. How many posts in this blog have been about the danger of “both parties are the same”? Yet you get that very vibe from many of the comments here. That’s the feeling this behavior provokes, and while it can be explained away (as almost anything can), it matters.

      • politicalfootball

        I certainly didn’t mean to say that both parties are the same. As bad as Hillary and Bill (and Obama) are, the Republicans are unambiguously worse when it comes to selling public policy to the highest bidder. You’re sucker if you think otherwise just because the NYT chooses to base its reporting on Republican oppo research rather than what goes on in the plain sight of everybody.

      • Steve LaBonne

        “Most people”, in fact at least 95% of people, are either for or against her long since and are not going to change their minds based on this weak sauce.

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