There is another similarity, too: In both cases, fear and revulsion are the proper responses from honest Americans.
More than 17 months before Election Day, Clinton scandals are piling up faster than robberies during a police strike. There is a media feeding frenzy over her shady dealings and the sheer volume of unsavory revelations is approaching a critical mass. The pace of disclosures probably can’t continue, but already she’s looking less and less inevitable.
Yesterday brought a new batch of bombshells. The Washington Post reported that, in addition to $5 million she earned from her latest book, Clinton earned $11.7 million by delivering 51 speeches since January, 2014. The paper reported that she was paid an astonishing $625,000 for two speeches — in one day!
Stack those facts up against her recent remark that the only answer to income inequality is to “topple” the 1 percent of wealthy Americans, and it’s obvious that she’s long past the point of simple hypocrisy.
She’s a caricature from PanderLand and has no challenger for the crown as the least authentic politician on the planet.
Not to be outdone in the media sweepstakes, The New York Times revealed that Clinton used a second, private e-mail address — HROD17@clintonemail.com — to correspond with a political aide stashed on the family foundation payroll. The aide, Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime Hillary hit man, was also playing both sides of the street by mixing his consultant business with her diplomatic efforts in Libya, according to e-mails The Times obtained.
The new e-mail address adds another layer of lies to Clinton’s false claims about her use of a private server to conduct State Department business. She also had claimed to use only one electronic device, before evidence emerged that she used at least two. Maybe she can’t count?
The Wall Street Journal added detail to the paid speech bonanza, saying the list showing total family income of $30 million in 16 months did not include about 100 other speeches where payment went directly to the foundation. That raises a potential tax issue because those payments were not reported as personal income, the paper said.
Even Chelsea comes in for a pounding, with my colleague Richard Johnson reporting that foundation executives found her “very difficult” and that she caused high staff turnover, with people she hired soon hitting the street.
And so it goes in ClintonGate, a multi-angled, mushrooming series of outrageous conduct coming to light. Some 30,000 emails are deleted, official American business gets mixed up with international rogues and shady oligarchs and the Clintons emerge with vast wealth for precious little work.
The foundation is awash in billions of contributions, some secret, from businesses and foreign governments. It acts like a mothership, with employees wearing different hats to serve the ruling family at different times. Its structure is so opaque and complex, the respected Charity Navigator organization put it on the same “watch list” as Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.
Meanwhile, she who seeks the restoration of the Clinton presidency can’t take a stand on the big challenges America faces, including the pending Asian trade deal. She dodges the press like the plague, obviously believing she can get by on lifeless, scripted events and answer a few token questions only when press frustration boils over.
She did that yesterday, taking five minutes to answer five questions after a month of radio silence. She said about as close to nothing as humanly possible.
Asked, for example, how she can make so much money and still claim to understand the straits of working people, she offered mush: “Obviously Bill and I have been blessed and we are very grateful for the opportunities,” adding “I’m running a campaign that is very clearly stating we want to reshuffle the deck.”
Opportunities? Already behaving like the old bosses from Tammany Hall, she’s starting to sound like them, too. It was George Washington Plunkitt who colorfully defended “honest graft” and said of his riches, “I seen my opportunities and I took ‘em.”
Then again, there is a distinction. The Tammany crowd was known to skim a bit off the top. The Clintons take the whole cake.
Ethics easy as dough, re mi, ABCABC’s dilemma about George Stephanopoulos is linked to his $105 million contract. He’s the face of the network’s news division, and sidelining him over his secret contributions to the Clinton foundation would probably hurt the bottom line.
But Stephanopoulos’ violation of journalism ethics is so fundamental that it’s hard to see how he escapes unscathed. The gusher of Clinton news, and the fact that he can’t be trusted to report it, illustrates how untenable it is for him to be ABC’s point man.
In the event the network brass is seeking clarity, I humbly offer my education on conflicts of interest. It came when I was a young reporter for The New York Times under legendary editor Abe Rosenthal.
Abe didn’t need a 10-page memo to establish the principle. He illustrated it by example.
Soon after The Times hired a veteran reporter from Philadelphia, a newspaper there reported that she had engaged in a long affair with a Philly politician she covered and accepted expensive gifts from him.
Rosenthal summoned the woman to his office and asked if the story was accurate.
She said yes, and he promptly fired her. Some Times reporters objected, saying the woman had been unfairly treated over a consensual adult relationship.
Rosenthal waved aside their complaints and in one unforgettable sentence, summarized her mistake and his rule.“You can sleep with elephants if you want to,” he declared, “but then you can’t cover the circus.”
Somebody at ABC needs to say that to Stephanopoulos.