Hillary Clinton may posture as the Progressive’s Progressive, but when getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by Wall Street firms for her speeches, she “sounded more like a Goldman Sachs managing director.” So say sources who attended those speeches and talked with Politico’s Ben White. Hillary couldn’t gush enough about their work, and had nothing critical to say about their operation, or Wall Street in general:
When Hillary Clinton spoke to Goldman Sachs executives and technology titans at a summit in Arizona in October of 2013, she spoke glowingly of the work the bank was doing raising capital and helping create jobs, according to people who saw her remarks.
Clinton, who received $225,000 for her appearance, praised the diversity of Goldman’s workforce and the prominent roles played by women at the blue-chip investment bank and the tech firms present at the event. She spent no time criticizing Goldman or Wall Street more broadly for its role in the 2008 financial crisis.
“It was pretty glowing about us,” one person who watched the event said. “It’s so far from what she sounds like as a candidate now. It was like a rah-rah speech. She sounded more like a Goldman Sachs managing director.”
Sources that attended other speeches do not recall much from them, only “small talk, chit-chat,” as one put it, also noting that Hillary emphasized that the banks didn’t deserve all the blame for the financial-sector meltdown. That calls into question why Goldman Sachs and other firms paid so much money to host Hillary at all. If she wasn’t cheerleading for the firm and only providing small talk and chit-chat, what exactly did their $250,000 or more buy them? The obvious answer was goodwill and access, especially since everyone understood that the Clintons were gearing up for another run at the White House. These firms wanted to have some pull with the eventual winner, and the Clintons were delighted to get personally rich off of that strategy.
That’s not illegal … but it’s hardly populist or progressive, either.
Expect to see more of these anecdotal recollections emerging as long as Bernie Sanders puts pressure on Hillary over her big Wall Street paydays.
The problem is, if Clinton releases the transcripts, Sanders and other progressive candidates could take even seemingly innocuous comments and make them sound as though Clinton is in the tank for Wall Street. And if she doesn’t, it makes her look like she has something very damaging to hide.
“One the one hand, if Clinton discloses these speech transcripts that’s not going to be the end of it,” said Dennis Kelleher, chief executive of financial reform group Better Markets. “I think you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t in this never ending game of gotcha. But as a political matter, she should probably just disclose it all and disclose it quickly.”
This is a petard by which Hillary has hoist herself, though. She wouldn’t necessarily have been damned if she had just remained consistent on her relationships with Wall Street and major financial institutions. Had Hillary chosen to do so, she could have run to Sanders’ right in defending major investment houses and banks, offering more effective regulation while decrying Sanders as an unrealistic nihilist. That would have meant perhaps surrendering part of the populist base, but it would have enhanced her credibility with the center-Left and independents that she will need in a general election — assuming she makes it that far.
Instead, Hillary has treated voters across the spectrum as too stupid to remember that she was a Senator from New York for eight years, and got that position by watching out for that constituency. The notion that she’s a crusader for anti-establishment progressivism is ludicrous, especially when it comes to Wall Street, from which the Clintons made tens of millions of dollars in speeches. That argument insults the intelligence of all but the most rabid of Clintonistas, and it explains much about why Hillary couldn’t seal the deal on Coronation 2.0 despite locking up almost all of the Democratic establishment far in advance of the primaries.