The trouble with Hillary Clinton was painfully captured in a New Hampshire town hall, carried on CNN and moderated by Anderson Cooper, Wednesday night. I'll let Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post take it from here:
For 59 minutes of it, she was excellent — empathetic, engaged and decidedly human. But, then there was that other minute — really just four words — that Clinton is likely to be haunted by for some time to come.
"That’s what they offered," Clinton said in response to Cooper's question about her decision to accept $675,000 in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs in the period between serving as secretary of state and her decision to formally enter the 2016 presidential race.
Clinton is both seemingly caught by surprise and annoyed by the question all at once. Neither of those is a good reaction to what Cooper is asking. Both together make for a uniquely bad response.
Here's the thing: I'm not sure there is a great answer, politically speaking, for Clinton on the question of her acceptance of huge speaking fees from all sorts of groups — from colleges and universities to investment banks. She took the money because these groups were willing to pay it. And who wouldn't do the same thing in her shoes?
The problem is that you can't say that if you are the front-running candidate for the Democratic nomination, a front-runner facing a more-serious-than-expected challenge from a populist liberal who has made your ties to Wall Street a centerpiece of his campaign.
And that's just part of the trouble with Hillary Clinton.
Don't forget the private server for her emails, some of which were marked "top secret." Apologists can say that the government over-classifies things, even classified some emails retroactively.
But why did she set up a private email system in the first place when she became Secretary of State? No good answers are available. Forget the former Goldwater girl. The behavior is more Nixonian.
Our Front Page editor, no fan of the Clintons, told me that when he was a Foreign Service Officer he would have had all his clearances revoked and potentially faced jail for being so careless with cables.
And the trouble with Hillary is Bill: his neoliberal policies such as repeal of Glass-Steagall and banking "deregulation," trade deals that eviscerated the blue-collar middle class, repealing "welfare as we know it," extending NATO into eastern Europe and breaking a promise George H.W. Bush had made to Russian President Boris Yeltsin, and cavalierly attacking Serbia over Russia's opposition. The long economic boom of the 1990s must be balanced against all these. And the dodgy Clinton Foundation he has presided over since leaving the White House.
All this makes one question the judgment of a person considered so intelligent and gifted.
An America exhausted from 15 years of wars — she's a neocon hawk who voted for the Iraq war, whether out of sincere convictions (wrong ones, many Democrats and a few journalists had the guts to question the WMD claim) or opportunism, fear that she would be labeled a Democratic dove.
An America chafing under rising inequality and falling economic mobility — she's a longtime friend of Wall Street and the entire neoliberal elite.
Oh, and I disagree with Cillizza about "who wouldn't do the same thing in her shoes?" One of the key causes of our Republic of Rackets and Corruption is the destruction of public service by money. The revolving door and the greed of the ruling class are killing us. And Goldman Sachs, an outfit whose hustles helped drive the world economy to the precipice: costs were socialized, profits privatized, friends in high places.
Bill Clinton spent nearly his entire adult life working for the government, including as the low-paid governor of a poor Southern state. Give Hillary a pass while she worked as a private attorney, but then she spent years as first lady, United States Senator and Secretary of State. Their combined net worth: $100 million.
What the hell?
Dwight Eisenhower's net worth was $8 million in 2010 dollars, mostly from his book royalties and Gettysburg farm. Obama, Carter, and Ford are around $7 million. Abraham Lincoln, a successful corporate lawyer, and Harry Truman, left much more modest estates. Lincoln's was valued at $85,000 at the time.
So, like Scully's poster in X-Files, I want to believe. This may be the most important election in recent history, maybe in the history of the republic. The Republican candidates are monsters; at the least they profess a monstrous ideology and will complete its implementation if elected. Sanders can't win (sorry).
And here is Hillary Clinton, shooting herself in the foot and reloading. We'll be lucky if the 3 a.m. phone call isn't news that she's been indicted.