As the world now knows, Bill and Hillary Clinton received enormous amounts of money from foreign governments while serving as Secretary of State. Not surprisingly—after all she is a Clinton—Hillary now claims there is no conflict of interest in accepting six-figure “speaking fees” from foreign governments. According to Mrs. Clinton, receiving $500,000 for a speech is the Clinton’s just due and nothing for the American public to be concerned about. In a response worthy of her husband’s infamous “I-did-not-have-sex-with-that-woman” denial, Mrs. Clinton called questions about speaking fees from foreign governments nothing but “distractions” and—you will love this—“rightwing conspiracy theories.” That’s right. The author of that infamous discredited concept—“the Great Rightwing Conspiracy”—is once again seeing conspiracies at work.
For a presidential candidate to believe that serious allegations of influence peddling are just “distractions” is even scarier than the Clinton’s acceptance of six-figure speaking fees from foreign governments. Her response suggests that Hillary Clinton is: 1) incredibly naïve, 2) unbelievably entitled, or 3) hopelessly crooked. It could take a while to apply this test, but all that needs to be done to prove that foreign governments were trying to buy influence with their donations to the Clinton Foundation is wait until Hillary is no longer a viable presidential candidate. Once that happens let’s see how many nations are still willing to pay her foundation six-figures for a single speech. I suspect Hillary knows that her status on the speaking circuit is going to change quickly once she no longer has any influence to peddle.
Is Hillary Clinton’s “distractions” response the result of naivety? Hardly. Mrs. Clinton is many things—not all of them commendable—but one thing she is not is naïve. After all she has been married to Bill Clinton for many years. I suspect she lost any naivety she might have brought to that marriage before the honeymoon was over. Further, Hillary Clinton has shown herself to be the ultimate skeptic, at least when it comes to her evaluations of Republican policy proposals. When it comes to considering economic and foreign policy proposals from the other side of the isle Hillary regularly sees a snake under every rock and evil intent in every sentence. Oh, and don’t let’s forget about the “great rightwing conspiracy.” No person could be as skeptical of the motives of others as Hillary Clinton and then be so naïve as to believe that foreign governments don’t want some kind of return on their investments.
Could Mrs. Clinton’s “distractions” response be the result of an ego that makes her actually think she and her husband are entitled to six-figure speaking fees? This explanation is certainly more plausible than naivety, but even Hillary Clinton knows she has serious limitations as a public speaker herself and that though Bill certainly outshines her on the podium, even he isn’t worth six figures. I have heard or read some great speeches—Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, John F. Kennedy’s inauguration speech, and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address come to mind—but I have never heard one that is worth $500,000 or more, and certainly not from Bill or Hillary Clinton. Foreign governments shelled out big bucks to the Clintons not for what they might say in a speech, but for what they might do with their influence.
Could Mrs. Clinton’s “distractions” response to criticism be the result of plain old dishonesty? In other words, is Hillary Clinton so ambitious and self-serving that she is willing to ignore the ethical and legal dimensions of accepting huge donations disguised as speaking fees if that is what it takes to achieve her lifelong goal of being elected president of the United States? Is it possible that she is so blinded by ambition that she does not care what she has to do to fulfill her ambitions, even if it means stooping to the oldest political rouse in the book: influence peddling? Unfortunately, this is what the evidence seems to suggest.
According to Peter Schweizer, author of the soon-to-be-released book Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, there was “…a pattern of financial transactions involving the Clintons that occurred contemporaneous with favorable U.S. policy decisions benefitting those providing the funds.” Schweizer provides numerous examples including (as quoted from an article in The New York Times by Amy Chozick) “a free-trade agreement in Colombia that benefitted a major foundation donor’s natural resource investments in the South American nation, development projects in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake in 2010, more than $1 million in payments to Mr. Clinton by a Canadian bank and major shareholder in the Keystone XL oil pipeline around the time the project was being debated in the State Department.”
To grasp the financial clout that can come with being a sitting Secretary of State and a potential President of the United States, provided one is not overly concerned with legality and ethics, consider that from 2001 to 2012 the Clinton’s income was more than $136 million dollars (not bad for a period that encompassed five of the worst economic years in our nation’s history). The money is in the bank and the Clinton’s are working hard to generate even more. But the question that Americans need to explore carefully concerns what has been and what will be the quid pro quo. No foreign government and no business enterprise forks over money in the millions without expecting something in return. I suspect the Clinton’s have already sold their souls in their rush to get back in the White House, but have they also sold America’s soul and future security?