Monday, February 26, 2007

What is it like to be a friend of the Clintons?

Martin Peretz, not a man with a thin wallet, writes in his TNR blog what it is like to be a friend of Bill and Hill.
The fact is that the Clintons are all about money. There's a truly shocking story in this morning's Washington Post about how Bill earned $40 million in the last four years just in speaking fees. A lot of this was Arab money, which doesn't mean he doesn't love his rich Jews (he must) ... or Israel, for that matter. It tells you just how easy it is for him to fake his affections. Or to carry two loves in his breast at the same time.

All about money. Imagine if you are a friend of the Clintons. First of all you are rich, very rich. Simply because they don't have friends other than ones with spare and bigger than big amounts of cash. Here are the purposes for which you have been asked contributions: twice for Bill Clinton for President (and all of the skeletal extensions of the local and national Democratic Party), the 727s, the White House refurbishing fund, the Clinton Defense Fund, the Clinton Library, twice for Hillary for Senate, annual contributions to the Clinton Global Initiative, each of his and her birthdays. Was there a Chappaqua remodeling project? If you have a private jet you'd have been expected to hand it over for a day, a weekend. If you have a house in Martha's Vineyard or in East Hampton or in Aspen or in Palm Springs, why don't you visit your in-laws? And it isn't as if the Clintons are asking you directly. Some underling is doing it, and you're afraid to say "no." Or even "boo." $1 million here, $1 million there. Pretty soon, it's a heck of a lot of money. You could have named a building at your alma mater after yourself with that money.

I happen not to agree with David Geffen about a pardon for Leonard Peltier, the Native American who has been in jail for decades after having been convicted of killing two FBI men. Look him up on Google, and judge for yourself. But David is certainly correct to call our attention to the Clintons' last act of presidential hautuer, and that is the pardons Bill and Hillary gave in the 24 hours before leaving office. First of all, there was the case of Marc Rich, zillionaire oil trader and tax felon whose ex-wife was a huge contributor to Clinton causes and one of Hillary's best pals. Rich also was living in Zug, Switzerland because he couldn't come in to the US without fear of being arrested. Now he can. Then there were the cases related to Hillary's brothers as lawyers and advocates. And the pardoning of Bill's brother. And on and on. Go to Google again, and type in "presidential pardons," "bill clinton," and "hillary clinton." You will be basting yourself in hog water. These are tell-tale enormities, more than 140 of them. Yuk.

I believe that deep-down the country agrees with Geffen. It does not want to relive the Clinton years. It was a tacky presidency, and the president's tackiness kept us from facing many dangers--including the perils of Muslim terrorism.
Tacky. That's an apt descpription.

This is how a liberal describes the Clintons. How many others are starting to remember all that went on during the Clinton years and deciding that they just don't want to live through any of that again? Not just conservatives, but liberals. A liberal friend of mine said out of the blue that she just couldn't bear the thought of having Bill Clinton in the White House again. She just yearned for someone new. And that is a liberal who will probably vote Democratic no matter who the candidate is. But if she had her druthers, Hillary would not be that candidate. How many more are there out who, like Bartleby, would prefer not to?

That's why I think that Hillary's frontrunner status is a brittle thing. And David Geffen's comment might be the moment we'll look back on and pinpoint as the beginning of the cracks in the whole Hillary! edifice.