What Clinton should say about those paid speeches…

At last night’s debate, Hillary Clinton took more fire about her lucrative speech gigs. I wonder if Clinton should own it in a different way:

It’s part of the comedy of my life that people are willing to pay $300,000 to hear me deliver a speech over lunch or whatever. Is this a bit ridiculous? Yeah, of course it is. It’s part of the comedy of my life as one of the most over-exposed famous people in the world. Of course the same is true of my husband and of some others who’ve been center-stage in American politics. I and Bill are incredibly blessed to have more than we need for our own wants and needs. Like President Obama, I’ve written best-selling books that made a lot of money. If Goldman Sachs or anyone else believes they can buy me with something like that, they are in for a rude surprise. We contribute much of our speaking fees to our foundation and to other good causes. Welcome to the craziness of life in America 2016.

It is what it is. She might as well hang a lantern on it. It is part of the mad comedy of contemporary American political life.

Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect, tnr.com, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

12 thoughts on “What Clinton should say about those paid speeches…”

  1. Yes, I suppose that's what she should say, since, "I'm not for sale, but I am for rent. What are you going to do about it?" wouldn't go over well.

    But, why should we discuss what lies she ought to be telling? The fact of the matter is that people pay her absurd sums to spend a short while droning away, because they think they're getting something in return for the money, and it's not a chance to hear her voice. It's changes to policy when she's in power, and you can point to case after case of her making policy decisions that favored donors to that foundation.

    And no sensible person views her family foundation as more than a way to launder the swag.

    1. Politicians accepting money is terrible and corrupt when Democrats do it. When Republicans do it it's all just a noble exercise of the payer's First Amendment rights.

  2. I read about that exchange on the nymag site. It sounds to me as if they are both a little wrong. I think it's a very rare pol who can eat their food and take their money, and then vote against them. Is Hill one of them? Where's the proof? She and Pres. Obama are both very centrist. There's kind of no point in arguing otherwise. They are basically Nixon on policy. (Nixon doesn't get enough love, imo. For a Republican, he had a heart. Out of the current ones, only Kasich seems to have even a sliver.) Maybe even farther right.

    Now, would she have been a centrist anyway? Probably. But it doesn't make me feel much better. Our system *is* corrupt, it *does* need to be torn up root and branch (I speak here of our *campaign finance* system…. not the Constitution!), and her making soothing noises isn't getting me there. Of course someone like her doesn't see the problem. It's working out great for her.

    Meanwhile, I still lean Bernie…. but I'm not sure Americans actually are united. I agree with him that what's actually good for most people is fairly clear, and is along his lines. But I very much doubt that most people know this, or feel it. And he really, really never should have kept this S word. Self indulgence. Maybe we are heading towards something bad. I admit it is fun watching the MSM panic. But, I haven't done the math and I do believe there could be some danger. I'll have to check out that Silver guy.

    1. I doubt that Nixon was really in favor of all of the things you are crediting for. What seems far more likely to me is that there was an awful lot of domestic policy that he really didn't care much about one way or the other, and so in dealing with a Democratic Congress, he was content to let them have their way on those things in exchange for getting the things he really did care about.

      Yes, that certainly makes him better then the current crop of Republicans, but it doesn't make me want to give him any love, either. Not considering the horrifying things he did, especially in Southeast Asia.

      1. It is a good point about Vietnam. So much death and for what? Seems like a big mistake.

        I wasn't really around then though, and South Korea seems to be doing very well. I'm not sure it was an easy call. The CW sort of seems to say that the South Vietnamese didn't really want it enough. Without going and doing a bunch of research, I'm not sure what I'd have done either. (Well, although lying is pretty much always wrong. That much seems clear. And I think a draft is unethical too, unless you give people a non-combat option.)

        Whereas, to me it seems clear that the Afghanis likewise aren't really trying and I want out of there. I am sorry to say it but that's how I feel. Has anyone got evidence to the contrary? Same with Iraq, Syria… every single last US person out. We can't do it for them. Am I wrong? See when Hillary talks foreign policy, I have issues with her there too. All that experience doesn't seem to add up to much. She is competent, very clearly.

        1. Two disagreements. First, Vietnam wasn't a mistake; it was deliberate. We deliberately invaded another nation and killed hundreds of thousands of people. To say that it was a mistake implies that, had we succeeded in our efforts, our actions would have been ethical.

          Second, a draft with a non-combat option would also be unethical. To force people to work, upon threat of imprisonment, is a form of slavery. The government should have to compete in the marketplace for its employees.

  3. Oh, also, I really wouldn't go with a "comedy" angle. This sh*t isn't funny to regular people. It is pure pain to watch. It is *not* fun to think/wonder if/believe that your government is corrupt and your society doomed. And here's some b**** saying how it's funny she's overpaid in the private sector because she is also a powerful government official. Not funny. Not at all. (Sorry about the B word, I don't think of her that way usually… but I would if she said something like this.)

    Also, Brett I disagree with you a bit. Too those people, 300K is nothing. So what they expect or don't expect, I couldn't say. I think it is the socializing that does the harm. The getting to know super rich people, starting to feel like one, and starting to see their point of view too much. It really isn't "just" the money, or *even* the money. It's more subtle than that.

    1. You are misunderstanding the word "comedy" in this context. It doesn't mean light and funny; it's a comment on the absurdity of life. In movies, Brazil is a comedy, and it's even funny at times, but that doesn't keep it from being profoundly sobering and even, for some people, depressing. It's a more classical usage of the term than modern Americans may be used to, but also far more in tune with what it originally meant.

      1. Well, that's one way of looking at it. And I don't know Harold irl, so you may be right. But I think almost everyone within earshot would also "misunderstand" the point if she said anything like this.

        It's like what Bill Maher said about how rich people can't make fun of poor ones, thin can't make fun of fat (oh, wait… he does that *all* the time…), and so forth. Regular people aren't going to find it comical — in *any* sense of the word — that people get rich off public service. I just don't see it happening. Book contracts are maybe one of the ways that might squeak by. Speeches though? I'm thinking that might be a problem. But as probably many of us here agree… our system is soooooo dirty now that it really hurts everyone. All the pols. We should clean it up for them. I've worked on campaigns and I say, we should free our candidates from having to fundraise. It's ugly and it bends them out of shape.

    2. I stumbled across another article on this subject that had a G. K. Chesterton quote: “The rich man is bribed; he has been bribed already. That is why he is a rich man.”

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