I have always admired the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative. After all, Bill Clinton was fairly young when he finished his second term in office. He always had a larger-than-life quality. Retiring to a farm did not seem like his cup of hooch. I suppose some could see the way that he is so outgoing and the fact that he seems to bask in the limelight as character flaws, but I would think that it is more likely that the world is lucky to have someone as energetic and socially involved, as idealistic and optimistic as Bill Clinton. He does the unexpected. He set up his office in Harlem. He and Hillary decided to make New York State their home base, perhaps because they had to while Hillary was a Senator, but they seem to have settled in and made a niche for themselves. He does not always hang out in the safest, most tony places.
I do not think of either of the Clintons as being the overly ambitious, social climbers, political manipulators that most of their press paints them out to be, although it is clear that they are ambitious. They seem to me like people who see room for improvement for people everywhere, especially women and children, and who have enough good will to find the funding necessary to tackle some of the world’s problems. They don’t come off as missionaries trying to sell religion or ideologues trying to sell the American way; they come off as trying to help families with some things that are quite practical and useful, like fresh water supplies, schooling, health care, defending women, and making microloans so women can start their own businesses.
I have always admired the fact that they did not just retire into what would most likely be a very comfortable lifestyle. They could have attended charity affairs in fancy dress and spent their time on a yacht or at the ballet. But they did not do that. They chose a life of public service long ago and they seem, despite the haters, not to regret their choice.
I do not know if, as the author of Clinton Cash Peter Schweizer apparently claims, the Clinton charities spend 90% on administration costs and only 10% on actual charity. If this is so then I am wrong about the altruism I attribute to Bill and Hillary Clinton. They have lots of expenses including their home, two offices and perhaps a few other dwellings (maybe an apartment in NYC and a home in Washington, DC). They both have big travel expenses I am guessing and spend quite a bit on clothing and personal care. Still a charity that keeps all but 10% for personal use is not usually considered much of a charity. The author of this book, Clinton Cash, admits, however, that he has no proofs for his accusations. Ridiculous – tons of press for a book that is pure speculation – this particular book looks as if it might be just a negative campaign ad that rests on false claims until someone fact-checks it and gets it pulled. We’ll see.
In the meantime Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe is getting on my last nerve. He compares the Clintons to Bob McDonnell and his wife (of Virginia) who were recently convicted for accepting favors from someone seeking their endorsement for a product and perhaps help with getting the product included in some state project, making it a sure-fire success. But no mention has ever been made that these people, who obviously lack the proper subtlety to make themselves rich in public office without getting caught, ever had one altruistic bone in their bodies. It was the blatancy of their greed, their flouting of the laws that sent them to jail. Joe Scarborough obviously feels that their transgressions were so small compared to the grand scale of the alleged exchange of money for favors by the Clintons. Usually I just write Joe off as a yuppie, loudmouth jock with great taste in music, but he does have a pulpit from which to bully listeners, so he has to be taken somewhat seriously.
Bill Clinton, of course, is no longer a public servant and is no longer bound by the rules which governed the McDonnells. That’s why ‘they’ are trying to intimate that Hillary got in on the act and offered favors to foreign governments if they would contribute to the Clinton charity. We’re not talking small favors here either, one such favor involved an agreement on nukes. And since 90% of Clinton charity monies are allegedly the private slush fund of the Clintons then Hillary used the Foundation to basically launder foreign money. My, my, she’s a bad one; Bill too. And if these unsupported charges prove true then Hillary should not ever be our President. But I do not believe that Bill or Hillary are guilty of any of these things.
I choose to believe that there are still people who go to bat for opportunity and progress for those who have no voice of their own. Until someone proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Bill and Hillary are guilty of being generous-in-name-only while they have been quietly plotting to take over America, I will cling to the belief that these are two people who just want to use their skills and power to make a difference in the often violent and unequal world in which we live. I see them as heroes; some see them as villains, and the truth probably lies somewhere between these two extremes.
By Nancy Brisson