By way of a disclaimer, I didn’t watch the Democrats’ town hall last night. (I’ve been sick since Tuesday, sorry.) It doesn’t sound like I missed much in terms of breaking news, new policy announcements or serious fumbles. In fact, the “biggest” moment of the night appears to have come from Hillary Clinton when Anderson Cooper took a swing at her out of left field, asking her why she had to accept all those huge speaking fees for the past several years. (Politico)
Hillary Clinton gave no ground to Bernie Sanders over her progressive credentials at a televised forum Wednesday night, but the most notable moment came when Clinton was forced to answer a question about her Wall Street ties from moderator Anderson Cooper.
The night featured few fireworks, but Clinton found herself on the defensive when presented with one of Sanders’ key talking points: that she shouldn’t have taken high amounts of speaking fees from Goldman Sachs.
“Well, I don’t know. That’s what they offered,” she said when asked whether she needed to be paid for three speeches amounting to $675,000, which Sanders often points to as evidence that she is beholden to Wall Street. “Every secretary of state that I know has done that.”
Let’s go to the video.
For my money, Clinton’s answer really wasn’t the story here nearly as much as the reaction from the liberal community and the media. (But I repeat myself.) Here are just a few examples:
One thing that hasn't changed for the last two years: Clinton really doesn't have a solid answer on paid speeches. https://t.co/AqVNtWZd7A
— Dan Merica (@danmericaCNN) February 4, 2016
Wow. Spectacularly bad answer on Goldman Sachs speeches, even though she must have known it was coming.
— Kevin Drum (@kdrum) February 4, 2016
Man this segment on the Goldman speeches is just brutal.
— Ben White (@morningmoneyben) February 4, 2016
Clinton’s answer for why she took Wall Street speaking fees is because she wasn’t sure at the time she was going to run for president. #Bad
— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) February 4, 2016
What we’re seeing here is one of the downfalls of Democrats and of socialism in general. The fact that Clinton was paid $675K for three speeches she gave to some investment bankers was actually shoved in her face as an accusation. And liberals around the country were worried that she couldn’t sufficiently defend herself from this attack.
The only weak part of Clinton’s answer was her tone. She actually managed to sound somewhat apologetic while absolutely not apologizing. She got tripped up a bit when Cooper got her to almost admit that she might not have done it if she’d known she was going to run for president, leading her into a completely fake answer where she was forced to pretend that she hasn’t been planning to be president since Bill left office. But her initial answer was actually pretty solid. That’s what they offered.
I would have had a fair bit more respect for Secretary Clinton if she had just taken that ball and run with it. If she was someone who honestly believed in capitalism and the American Dream, there would be no need for even a hint of an apology. Given the chance to script her answer for her I would have come up with something like this:
Yes, I took $675K in speaking fees. If I’d been able to negotiate for a million I’d have taken that. Through hard work and a little luck I’ve managed to be fairly successful in life and that provides me with the opportunity to take engagements such as those. I’ve earned it and I want everyone else in the country to succeed and grow their wealth as well. Nobody in this country should have to apologize for legally succeeding and living the American Dream.
Of course she didn’t say all of that because that’s not what her base wants to hear. They want to know how she will tax the successful and drag them down to their level. They need to be told that wealthy people are evil and that they will be punished under the next administration. Sanders is dishing out that red meat in large portions so I suppose Hillary is feeling the pressure not get too crazy with the capitalism talk. This is the Year of the Socialist on the left, and having the smell of money about you could be a death knell at the voting booth.