Hasn’t this been the Clinton standard for the past 23 years, really? Former President Bill Clinton did an interview with Bloomberg in front of a live and friendly audience at the Clinton Global Initiative, and offered a response to allegations of influence-peddling and worse from the nexus of power and cash involving the family foundation and Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State. “Has anybody proved that we did anything objectionable?” Clinton asked, and then provided his own answer: “No.”
Well, that settle things. Right? Er … not really, argues Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post. Cillizza calls the arrogance in that remark “a stunner”:
This is the latest in a string of statements by the former president that suggest he still doesn’t grasp why the Clinton Foundation questions continue to swirl and, because of that lack of understanding, remains unable to effectively parry them. …
Here’s the problem for Bill: No other foundation in the world is run by a former president and a former Secretary of State who also happens to be the de facto Democratic presidential nominee in 2016. That fact means that the Clinton Foundation isn’t like any other foundation in the world — and, therefore, how all of those other foundations treat disclosure is sort of immaterial.
It’s also worth noting here that the successes of the Clinton Foundation in terms of raising money are built on the prominence and political influence of Bill and Hillary Clinton. There are lots and lots of organizations out there that have been far less successful doing what the Clinton Foundation does simply because they lack messengers like Bill and Hillary. And so, when that prominence also subjects the Clinton Foundation to heightened scrutiny, that’s the sort of thing that comes with the territory.
And it’s not just the foundation, either. Bill Clinton racked up tens of millions of dollars in speaking engagements while his wife ran the State Department, significant chunks of which came from corporations and nations who had business within State’s purview — and all of whom seemed to have done remarkably well, too. Whether those entities wanted to move control of American uranium to Russia or expand chemical-arms sales to suppress the Arab Spring protests that the Obama administration was championing, Bill and Hillary and their foundation always seemed to profit in correlation to those ambitions, both personally and in their foundation — which at that time had pass-through rates that would paint any other charity as a scam.
Can the Clintons be convicted of corruption? That’s actually an interesting question, if largely academic with a Department of Justice more interested in Reason’s blog commenters than in massive corruption at the State Department. Bob McDonnell got convicted of corruption in Virginia with lower levels of both correlation and causation presented in court, not to mention that the scale of corruption was vastly smaller. Don’t expect that hypothetical to get a real-life test, but if it did, Clinton might have to start singing another song.
Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is a standard for courtrooms. Performance and outcomes are standards for voters, and the outcome of 23 years in power at the national level is the Clintons getting filthy rich from the nations and corporations that had need of influence in Washington. Demanding that people ignore reality because no one can prove corruption to Bill Clinton’s standards — a laughable construct in and of itself — is not just arrogant, but ignorant as well.