Like Paul, I would have thought that a simple list documenting the extent to which Hillary Clinton has benefited from the Platitudes-By-Plutocrats-For-Plutocrats racket spoke for itself, but apparently not. A few points:
- Paying wealthy people five-and-six-figures-plus-luxury-perks to deliver rote speeches is one of the more egregious essentially non-competitive mechanisms by which America’s underachieving and overcompensated elites reward themselves. It’s more of a systematic problem than a problem with any individual, true, but liberals should not just take this new norm for granted.
- If Hillary Clinton was retired from politics, I would concede that the “hate the game not the player” argument would have some force. It’s true enough that abstinence on the part of Clinton would not cause the racket to vanish. But in fact she’s running for president, which makes this a real issue for three reasons: 1)many people paying obscene speaking fees are trying to cultivate influence from someone with an excellent chance to be the next president; 2)the extent to which the likely nominee of the leftmost major American political party participating in the P-B-P-F-P racket normalizes and legitimizes it; and 3)as Paul says, the dumb politics.
- The theory of corruption advanced by John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy, it should really go without saying, is transparently wrong. These speaking fees do not constitute quid pro quo bribes, and they will not turn Hillary Clinton into a right-winger. But they’re nonetheless one of the many ways in which the wealthy exert disproportionate influence on the political process. And this isn’t like ordinary campaign finance, where unilateral Democratic disarmament isn’t an option. Clinton has to raise money to fund her campaign, but she doesn’t have to take millions of dollars for her Foundation and, worse, herself from rich people and groups trying to influence her.
- Criticism of Hillary Clinton does not imply that she is not infinitely better than any possible Republican candidate. As a legal academic once wrote on an obscure blog, “The coming presidential election, for those of us in this category, will consist of ordering one of three things for dinner: pizza, Indian food, or anthrax. For me Sanders is pretty good Indian food, while HRC on her worst days is Pizza Hut pizza, but the choice between Pizza Hut and anthrax is not a choice in any conceivable sense of the word, and having any sort of argument about this in 2015 as opposed to 2000 seems really ridiculous.” The fact that Hillary Clinton does things worthy of criticism does not change this obvious fact, and it would be tedious to reiterate it every single time a criticism of Clinton is advanced.
- The extremely high stakes of the forthcoming presidential election and the fact that Clinton is overwhelmingly likely to the the Democratic nominee makes these unforced political errors all the more worthy of criticism.