Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Money for access

For people who like to accuse the mainstream media of liberal bias, aren't they are little surprised that the New York Times and the Washington Post both have had articles playing up the concern about the Clinton emails and the "access for money" issue they raise?

I find it hard getting too worked up about this:  money for access to politicians (via political donations and attendance at exorbitantly priced fundraisers) is so common now that it seems beyond winding back.  True, from little I have read, it seems that the Clinton arrangement incorporated an indirect - but only just - wealth enhancement to the Clintons personally (via Bill being paid by his own foundation?), and I can understand why people think this is a bit rich (ha!)   But as for how bad it is for good governance - isn't the problem that to get too horrified by it, you have to show that the payment did in fact lead to corrupt and bad decisions?  As far as I can tell, so far, no one has pointed to a clearly egregious example of such a decision as a result of donation to the Clinton Foundation, which lead to an email to Hilary, which led to a meeting, which led to a bad decision that would not otherwise have been made.  But I stand to be corrected.   It seems from the most recent articles that donors who contacted Hilary or her staff for help often didn't get much "value for money"; sometimes getting responses that were more "I dunno.  Good luck with that one.  Oh, and thanks for the donation, again."

Anyhow, here's the choice:  a candidate who has a long history of doing very well personally out of politics and political connections - sometimes in dubious fashion - but who appears basically sound on matters economic, understands foreign affairs (even if you don't agree with every decision she made - but let's face it, it's frequently a case of not being able to win no matter who you support when it comes to foreign policy, especially in the Middle East), and believes scientists when it comes to climate change - the global issue of the century with dire planet wide risks.

On the other hand - a narcissistic flip flopping ignoramus, with terrible judgement as to who to take policy advice from, who still thinks decades later that his being able to use hairspray with CFCs was more important than fixing the ozone hole.

It's just not a realistic comparison.

Update:  I think I can say that this BBC summary of the issues with the Foundation over the years supports my general take on the matter.

Update 2:  and here's the Slate take on the matter.  Pretty much along the same lines - the Foundation was sort of asking for trouble; or at the very least, doubts.  Perhaps the best line in this article is this:
You don’t need to believe the Clintons orchestrated some sort of pay-for-play scheme to know that there is something wrong with a dynamic where it is nearly impossible to prove whether they did or did not.   
 But this is still not the same as showing the Clintons were corrupt in any highly serious way.

And it's not as if people shouldn't have doubts about Trump's ability to remain a cleanskin.  If anything, his refusal to be upfront about his tax returns, and the connections with Russian money (that do indeed go to the matter of direct benefit to him and his businesses), as well as his generically self centred, immature attitude to everything, show him to be a fertile field for future corruption and secret dealings.

Update 3:  Here's the Michael Yglesias take on the matter at Vox, more defensive of Clinton than other media.  Key point:
Here’s the bottom line: Serving as secretary of state while your husband raises millions of dollars for a charitable foundation that is also a vehicle for your family’s political ambitions really does create a lot of space for potential conflicts of interest. Journalists have, rightly, scrutinized the situation closely. And however many times they take a run at it, they don’t come up with anything more scandalous than the revelation that maybe billionaire philanthropists have an easier time getting the State Department to look into their visa problems than an ordinary person would.

1 comment:

not trampis said...

It seems as though Clinton kept a private e-mail account because Colin Powell recommeded this at a dinner that Madelaine Albright hosted for Clinton.

From where I am sitting the only people who will believe Trump's allegations are people who are going to vote for him. He has no cred as they say in the game but he probably doesn't understand this.