“Clintons Earned $30 Million in 16 Months.” If you think that’s a Fox News headline, think again. Actually, it’s the headline on a recent in-depth New York Times article by investigative reporters Steve Eder and Maggie Haberman, and it raises serious doubts about presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s efforts to connect with “everyday Americans.”
Although former President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary claimed to be “dead broke” when they departed the White House in January, 2001 — taking some of the furniture with them — they were soon rolling in dough, if you know what I mean (and I think you do). Today, they’re not just one-percenters; they’re among the one-tenth of one percent of the richest Americans. Nevertheless, Mrs. Clinton keeps talking about “everyday Americans” and the need to close the income gap between rich and poor while artfully dodging questions from the mainstream media. I call this breathtaking hypocrisy.
“The Clintons’ riches have already become a subject of political attacks, and her campaign has been eager to showcase Mrs. Clinton as a more down-to-earth figure,” wrote Eder and Ms. Haberman, adding “the couple has come under increasing scrutiny for their financial activities since she announced her run for president.”
Much of the attention has been focused on the Clinton Foundation and the donations it received from foreign entities while she was Secretary of State — foreign entities like Saudi Arabia, which represses women in many different ways. Again, breathtaking hypocrisy because Mrs. Clinton wants us to vote for her because she’s a woman.
According to the New York Times reporters, the Clintons “made at least $30 million over the last 16 months, mainly from giving paid speeches to corporations, banks and other organizations ... They have now earned more than $125 million on the (lecture) circuit since leaving the White House.” More hypocrisy because Mrs. Clinton regularly denounces the banks and corporations who pay her the big bucks. Let’s call it wink-and-nod politics.
One interesting fact disclosed by the venerable and usually liberal New York Times is ex-President Clinton commands higher speaking fees than his wife. His largest honorarium was $500,000 from the EAT Stockholm Food Forum in Sweden while Hillary’s speeches topped out at $350,000. This looks like sexism to me, and I wonder whether the Swedish organization could have spent that $500,000 on food for hungry children. Just asking, you understand, while exercising my First Amendment rights.
“The speaking circuit has enriched many well-known Washington figures and former presidents,” the Times journalists acknowledge, “but the exorbitant pay for light work can distance them (the Clintons) from the realities most Americans experience ...” Just to be fair, however, we should note Mrs. Clinton once ordered a burrito at a fast food restaurant and paid for it herself, just like the rest of us. And she visited a gas station even though she hasn’t driven a car in more than 20 years. As you know, she and her sizeable campaign entourage usually travel in speeding motorcades.
Mrs. Clinton’s only announced opponent, Democrat/Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, doesn’t make millions of dollars from speaking engagements and can be expected to question her about her excessive (in his opinion) income. After all, she purports to represent everyday Americans while raking in tens of millions of dollars on the international lecture circuit. Nice work if you can get it. Full disclosure: I once made $25 for giving a talk at the Gold Hill Hotel.
So Hillary Clinton, among the richest of all Americans, will be denouncing those nasty millionaires and billionaires during her presidential campaign. As I was saying, breathtaking hypocrisy.
Guy W. Farmer is the Appeal’s senior political columnist.