Hillary Clinton keeps doubling down on her claims to be “dead broke” after leaving the White House – one of the biggest unforced errors ever committed at the early stages of a run for the White House. She becomes more of a laughingstock every time she tries to “clarify” those comments, but her ego – and her crude sense of how she needs to control the narrative and keep herself from getting painted into the dreaded “out-of-touch rich elitist” corner – won’t allow her to let it drop.
The latest lawn full of rakes awaited her in a generally friendly interview from the UK Guardian, which includes this sparkling gem of insight: “You quickly sense that Hillary Clinton, supreme operator that she has become, is all about control, all about guarding the presentation of her own image that is arguably the politician’s most important challenge in the age of social media and 24-hour cable television.” The actual story of the past few weeks is Clinton’s astounding ineptitude at controlling her image, to the point that even MSNBC and CNN panels are laughing at her on-camera.
This is the passage from the interview that brightened CNN’s morning with giggles:
And money? What about money? Bill and Hillary have reportedly made more than $100m since they left the White House in 2001. Yet that didn’t stop Hillary complaining to Diane Sawyer on ABC News that the couple had emerged from highest office “dead broke”, a comment that ranks for its tone deafness alongside John McCain’s admission in the 2008 presidential election that he couldn’t remember how many houses he owned.
America’s glaring income inequality is certain to be a central bone of contention in the 2016 presidential election. But with her huge personal wealth, how could Clinton possibly hope to be credible on this issue when people see her as part of the problem, not its solution?
“But they don’t see me as part of the problem,” she protests, “because we pay ordinary income tax, unlike a lot of people who are truly well off, not to name names; and we’ve done it through dint of hard work,” she says, letting off another burst of laughter. If past form is any guide, she must be finding my question painful.
You’ve got to love that spiteful, envious little dig she throws in about not naming names. Classic Hillary, and a big part of the reason why I continue to doubt she’s even going to be the Democrat nominee in 2016, no matter what conventional wisdom says. She’s just plain off-putting. Her supporters can’t see it because of their blind loyalty to Bill Clinton, and to the image of Hillary as the super-genius feminist mother-goddess they’ve been fed for years, but after a few more reminders of how she plays to average Americans, they’re going to get nervous about her electability. Hillaryism is Obamaism without the threadbare velvet glove and faded Hopenchange smiley-face.
But let’s leave politics, image, and charges of hypocrisy aside for a moment, and dispassionately consider the merits of what she’s saying. She’s trying to make a distinction between being income-rich and asset-rich – that’s why she whined about how she and Bill “pay ordinary income tax, unlike a lot of people who are truly well-off.”
She’s underestimating public ire about exactly how she and Bill earn all that income: it’s a very prettied-up version of political graft. She gets paid a fortune to give boring speeches on topics where she has far less to offer than many cheaper speakers would, because the people shoveling $200,000 per appearance into her bank account wish to curry favor with the Clintons and the Democrat power structure. She and her husband also get paid exorbitant sums of money for books they don’t write, and which nobody reads, for the same reason. Hillary’s new book, “Hard Choices,” is already dropping off the bestseller lists, only a week after its debut. It’s debatable to characterize 60,000 units sold as a “bomb”…. until you remember that Hillary got paid millions for it. And nobody’s even trying to pretend that Chelsea Clinton was worth her phenomenal salary as a “journalist” for NBC News, where she’s paid $600k per year for a no-show job. (She’s currently on a “month-to-month” contract where she gets paid fifty thousand dollars a month… and she hasn’t been on the air for over four months.)
At this moment of dwindling public confidence in our gigantic but hopelessly inept government, with mounting anger about the way taxpayer money is mishandled by politicians who never stop badgering us to pay even more, people who raked in $100 million based on their political connections are not in a good place to boast about how they earned it all “through dint of hard work.”
Another problem facing Hillary is that she picked a poor moment to spotlight the difference between income and asset wealth, because the Obama years have been extremely kind to the latter. She’s looking to follow a far-Left President whose policies made “income inequality” worse, and made it especially rough for people trying to succeed by investing modest holdings and make a profit with hard work and entrepreneurial risk.
Also… remember this memorable quote from Barack Obama? “You didn’t build that… someone else made that happen…” A core belief of Obamanomics is that nobody gets rich by dint of hard work; wealth accumulation is theft to these people. Hillary’s big speaking fees come from corporate interests that liberal dogma portrays as robber barons. We’re supposed to applaud Hillary for piling up $100 million through “hard work” giving speeches and signing off on ghost-written books, but we’re suppose to hate someone who amassed $100 million by risking their capital and creating products that satisfied consumer demand? Every capitalism-defending liberty-loving conservative candidate should relish the notion of having that discussion with Hillary Clinton during presidential debates. Who, exactly, shall determine which $100 million fortunes were fairly “earned,” and which are filthy piles of ill-gotten loot that should be redistributed as quickly as possible?
Speaking of redistribution, the Clintons have used every legal and accounting technique under the sun to protect their wealth from taxation. There’s nothing illegal about what they’ve done… but that doesn’t stop Clinton’s Party soulmates and ideological fellow-travelers from savagely attacking everyone else who practices “tax avoidance” strategies. Not so long ago, the Left was making a deliberate effort to conflate “tax avoidance” (the use of entirely legal means to shelter money) and illegal tax-dodging in the public mind. Why haven’t the Clintons led by example, and refused to use these dastardly techniques to prevent our wise and virtuous government from re-distributing their income to the truly deserving?
Oh, and to answer Mrs. Clinton’s point about how $100 million isn’t enough to qualify her as “well-off”: sorry, but your Party has a very specific definition of what “well-off” means, and it’s far less than what you pulled in during your leanest year. Specifically, it is iron-clad Democrat Party dogma that $250,000 per year qualifies a married couple as “rich,” and in fact makes them “millionaires” who should be paying more in taxes. That’s not one casual comment from an Obama speech I’m harping on – it was repeated hundreds of times during every tax-hike drama over the past six years.
Hillary Clinton, and other members of the political aristocracy, are eternally jealous of the wealth they experience while hobnobbing with their big-money supporters. I have no doubt that she sincerely thinks she’s as well-off as she should be… as rich as she deserves to be. Under left-wing ideology, the Ruling Class is entitled to a posh lifestyle, enjoying the material rewards their high-developed social conscience, academic achievements, and brilliant leadership entitle them to. The idea that such rewards are currently in the grip of money-grubbing capitalists infuriates them. That would be a tough message for someone as tin-eared as Mrs. Clinton to sell voters, even if her ideology hadn’t spent the past six years failing at everything it tried, from “stimulus plans” to health care.