‘Shall we only threaten and be angry for an hour?
When the storm is ended shall we find
How softly but swiftly they have sidled back to power
By the favor and contrivance of their kind?’
– Rudyard Kipling, Mesopotamia
What could possibly explain the staying power of the Clintons? After all it’s been over two decades and numerous scandals since Bill and Hillary Clinton emerged out of Arkansas to first claim the White House. A few explanations present themselves but none are particularly sunny. Is it the sheer reactionary ineptitude of the Republicans? Perhaps, but one would like to think that even the staunchest lesser- evil liberals have their limits. Was it actually the Lewinsky affair that somehow turned the Clintons in everyman victims relegating every sordid aspect of Clinton political life before and after to the realm of the ‘personal’ and therefore nobody’s business? Or does one really have to reach for the idea that the Clintons simply embody an ethical bankruptcy of our epoch where everybody lies, cheats, and cashes in- in which case everything just boils down to shady legalisms and smoking guns.
Hillary Clinton, in defiance of the law, uses a private email server for government business while serving as Secretary of State and releases the e-mails at her whim but- ah, there’s no smoking gun. Bill Clinton receives a speaking fee of $500,000 for eleven speeches made when his wife is Secretary of State, meaning, as Michael Tomasky points out in the New York Review of Books, that even assuming the Clintons are squeaky clean, rich individuals and corporations may well have thought they spent their money well in paying Clinton thousands of dollars a minute to speak on nothing particularly relevant to their businesses. And is not the reverse also true: would a public figure interested in being, or at least appearing, squeaky clean put himself in the position where the question can be so obviously raised? But hence nothing could really be ‘proven’.
The International Business Times reports that under Hillary Clinton’s leadership the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation, including such worthy donors and recipients as the governments of Algeria, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. There were a further $151 billion of separate Pentagon-brokered deals for 16 of those countries- all in all a 143 percent increase in completed sales compared to the same timeframe during the Bush Administration. Yeah, but just try to really ‘prove’ a connection.
A change of heart on the Colombia Free Trade Agreement (a change that did mirror Obama’s own flip flop) coinciding with a major donor and family friend’s increased investment in the Colombian oil sector? Oh come on now. In her memoir Hard Choices Hillary Clinton recalls a scene in Colombia with Bill and friends at a local steakhouse where they ‘toasted Colombia’s progress’ while human rights groups continued to document widespread violence against union members.