subscribe: Posts | Comments      Facebook      Email Steve

On Trump’s criticism of the Clintons’ wealth



One of the biggest Republican attacks against Hillary Clinton, and Bill too, is how rich they’ve gotten since leaving the White House in 2001. Yes, they are rich: by some estimates, more than $100 million.

Their wealth has been one of Trump’s main targets. I saw a pro-Trump T.V. ad, aired during the fabulous seventh game of the World Series, in which a narrator with an ominous voice calls the Clintons “filthy rich” and insinuates that the source of their wealth is nefarious.

(Never mind that Trump’s wealth is based, at least in part, on scams: Trump University, his late-night infomercials on how-to-get-rich-quick through real estate, not paying his bills, taking advantage of bankruptcy loopholes, etc.)

Republican voters have been eager to buy into the Trump denunciation of Clinton money. An anti-Hillary letter to the editor in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal referred to an alleged Harry Truman quote: “You can’t get rich in politics unless you’re a crook.”

Well, the Clintons didn’t get rich “in politics,” they got rich after Bill left the White House, and after Hillary left government service. Their wealth derives from book sales and speeches, not from siphoning money off the Clinton Foundation or any “crooked” practices. Let’s face the fact that, when you’ve been a high-level politician in America, the opportunities for making a lot of money legitimately are manifold. Ronald Reagan—who already was rich from his career as an actor—took advantage of his post-Presidential fame to earn millions from speeches, before Alzheimer’s robbed him of that ability. When Richard Nixon died, he had become a very wealthy man, mainly through real estate deals. George W. Bush—very wealthy through his family connections—made a lot more money when he left office, including at least $7 million for his memoir, and at least $15 million from giving speeches (which he’s still doing). Now, you might object that it’s tacky and unseemly for ex-Presidents (and their spouses) to cash in, but the fact is, writing books and giving speeches is not illegal, and you would probably do the same thing, were you in a position to do so.

The Trump campaign—arguably the most dishonest in recent American history—is, as I said, strongly insinuating that the Clintons’ wealth derives, in large part, from the Clinton Foundation, but there’s no evidence whatsoever that that’s true. Of course, “truth” is a fungible commodity in the Trump campaign; The Donald understands that his followers aren’t looking for truth, they’re looking for their resentments to be validated, their chief resentment being an unreasoning hatred of the Clintons. Trump is the validator-in-chief: he has never offered a shred of evidence that Hillary Clinton has done anything illegal or even unethical*, but that doesn’t matter to Trumpsters.

It’s odd, isn’t it, for the right wing—which celebrates, or claims to celebrate, the right of Americans to get “filthy rich”—to turn so violently against the Clintons for the “crime” of their wealth. But then, consistency has not been the highlight of Republicans during this campaign season. The morally pompous religious right has, for the most part, pardoned Trump’s sexual predation, while Republicans in Congress have been conspicuously silent about Trump’s promises that he won’t touch Social Security or Medicare, which have been the GOP’s bete noires for decades.

Finally, what’s so disgusting about this Republican attack on the Clintons is the suggestion that the Clinton Foundation is a money-making front for them. It is not. From everything I have read and heard—and if you have evidence to the contrary, let me know—the foundation’s work is incredible, working across a range of issues around the world to help poor, dispossessed people. What has George W. Bush done since leaving office to help anyone? Nothing we know of. And what has Donald J. Trump ever done to help anyone, except himself? You know, and I know, the answer is: nothing. The man is a greedhead, pure and simple. It just goes to show that the old saying is true when it comes to Republicans with regard to the Clintons: No good deed goes unpunished.

*That having a private email server was stupid is unarguable, but Colin Powell had one, so do lots of other politicians, and no doubt Hillary, and all other politicians, learned her lesson not to do that again.

  1. “What has George W. Bush done since leaving office to help anyone?”
    His biggest public service since leaving office has been keeping his mouth shut and staying out of the public eye.

  2. I would not call that public service. It’s dereliction of his duty. Perhaps he has nothing to say about anything, because he has nothing to say! He was an essentially lazy, disinterested politician and wasn’t fit to shine Obama’s shoes.

  3. I disagree with you Steve. I think he was fit to shine Obama’s shoes. And not much else.
    He may have realized what a disaster he was as a President, and what an albatross he was around the neck of the GOP, and decided to keep a [very] low profile.

  4. You’re right. But that simply underscores his cowardice. In particular, he could have denounced Trump but didn’t have the cojones to do it.

  5. Bob Henry says:

    We all “think” that the federal government — not least the State Department — has up-to-date telecommunications devices and computer systems.

    The less than sanguine reality, as reported by Garrett Graff:

    Graff was interviewed for today’s episode of “This American Life from WBEZ” hosted by Ira Glass.

    The 19 minute podcast becomes available for listening tomorrow, Sunday at 7 PM Central time.

    https [colon] //www [dot] thisamericanlife [dot] org/radio-archives/episode/601/master-of-her-domain-name

    ACT ONE:

    “Server Be Served.”

    Sean Cole talks to reporter Garrett Graff, who read the 247 pages of interview summaries of the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. Graff concludes that it’s not the scandal most people thought it was. Not a sophisticated, Machiavellian scheme to evade federal rules and record laws. The interviews “depict less a sinister and carefully calculated effort to avoid transparency than a busy and uninterested executive who shows little comfort with even the basics of technology, working with a small, harried inner circle of aides. Reading the FBI’s interviews, Clinton’s team hardly seems organized enough to mount any sort of sinister cover-up.” (19 minutes)

  6. Bob Henry says:

    Ripped from the headlines …

    Monday’s Wall Street Journal reports:

    “FBI Says New Emails Don’t Change Conclusions About Hillary Clinton;
    Director Comey says bureau stands by prior decision not to recommend charges against Mrs. Clinton”


    “Just two days before polls close in the presidential race, the FBI said a review of new evidence gave it no reason to reverse its earlier recommendation that Hillary Clinton not face charges related to her email practices while secretary of state.

    “The announcement Sunday by Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey lifted a legal and political cloud that had hung over Mrs. Clinton’s campaign for 10 days.

    “Mr. Comey told lawmakers in a letter that nothing had been uncovered in a new batch of messages that altered the department’s earlier conclusion that no prosecution of Mrs. Clinton was justified in the discovery of classified information on her private email server.

    “The FBI had a high bar to meet if it was to change its view of the case. Investigators needed to find not only more classified information, but also something that suggested a degree of intent to violate laws on protecting national-security information they had not previously seen.”

  7. Given the extremely lucrative offers that come their way post-term, isn’t it time we stop the salary-for-life that we surely cannot afford? And if not, I for one would find it quite elegant of the Clintons (and GW for that matter) to simply turn it down. Why take more from us? I would also argue to use some Clinton Foundation money to help folks here, in the country that gave the Clintons so much, and where so much is needed and not being handled by government, but I’ll say let’s start at turning down the $400,000/year (is that amount right? I think that’s right?) Cheers! Exciting election eve… that’s for sure…

  8. Emily, (1) The Clintons have every right to accept payment for services, the same way that you or I do. It’s not illegal, and they have spent a lifetime on govt. salaries serving us. I’m glad they’re finally able to make some money. (2) The Clinton Foundation’s mission statement can be found at I’m sure you’ll see that their work is of benefit to us all.

Leave a Reply


Recent Comments

Recent Posts