Saturday, April 25, 2015

Bill and Hill: The appearance of wrong-doing

By Richard Barry

Aren't we special?

Are all of those fat cats lining up to donate bigs bucks to politicians expecting nothing in return? Are we really supposed to believe their only interest is in supporting a candidate who happens to embrace a particular view of the world? Is that really what it's all about? Hardly.

Okay, if Sheldon Adelson or the Koch brothers or, yes, a very wealthy Democratic donor (say a Hollywood type) gives a lot of money to a presidential candidate, we may say he or she is doing what every donor does, which is supporting their preferred candidate, someone who shares their values. But if a particular project of interest to one of these donors lands before a president for a decision, and the donor just happens to be in the neighbourhood and drops in for a visit to remind the president of the previous large donation and the donors interest in said issue, what is that?

I would say, sadly, it's politics.

Are the allegations facing Hillary Clinton over her husband's foundation work any different or any worse? Maybe, maybe not. But the Clinton's certainly should have seen it coming. They should have known that as she was being considered for her post as Secretary of State, and as she considered a run for the presidency, this would be an issue.

I'm not sure that the appearance of wrong-doing in the eyes of people who will always want to take you down is a good enough reason to reconsider your actions, but it would be politically smart.

I'm inclined to agree with Chuck Todd, who said this:

Look, for the life of me, and this is just political judgment, the Obama administration when they offered her the job looked at the [Clinton] Foundation and said, boy, there will be the appearance of influence. We better be careful here. [Former Senator] Dick Lugar, at the time, ranking member of the [Senate] Foreign Relations [Committee], even said very publicly, you know, it's going to look like foreign governments can buy access to you because of the foundation. How many more warnings did the Clintons need to have and yet they ended up doing these things. Look, I hear what David [Axelrod] is saying, and clearly he is right. There is not proof, it's sort of circumstantial scandal.

The question I have is it's politically though just dumb and inept. And I guess -- somebody I read the other day, I can't remember who it was, said there is something about the way President Clinton has operated in his post-presidency that's simply been sloppy. What's he doing hanging out with the questionable president of Kazakhstan? You know, and taking money to do things like that?

I understand he may rationalize it and say, yeah, you know, what we'll use this money for good, they're not buying influence from me, I don't care. But, boy, the appearance of it is terrible.

Before I'm willing to say that the Clinton's did anything wrong in a moral or legal sense, I need some proof. That it was pretty dumb in a political sense seems obvious. 

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