A fun rant like this one from my friend Jon Ralston, the dean of Nevada political analysts, should not be missed — especially when it hits so closely on point to the issue at hand. And the issue at hand here is the jaw-dropping details of the contract between the UNLV Foundation and Hillary Clinton, the most outrageous of which Jon details in this short clip transcribed by Daniel Halper. But this touches on a larger point about Hillary Clinton and the growing impulse to bend the knee in American politics:
And now, a word about royalty. We don’t have kings and queens in America, or at least we shouldn’t. But when I see the red carpet UNLV is rolling out for Hillary Clinton in two months I start to wonder. Unless you’re a mindless partisan, the details of that contract with the UNLV Foundation should disturb you. They were uncovered, as I said by the RJ’s Lara Myers, and published over the weekend. The contract reads as if Hillary is being given the, yes, royal treatment. Now it is bad enough that the UNLV Foundation folks agreed to that outrageous $225,000 fee as students struggle to make ends meet.
But the contract they signed shows they were willing to agree to terms no self-respecting institution would. She wants a private jet, a presidential suite, rooms for staff, and, get this, all cell phone charges for everyone paid for. Oh, and if the $225,000 is not enough UNLV has to spring for a stenographer, and no one gets to see the transcription except — Hillary. No media coverage at all, no statements, keep the rabble out of the room. The contract also says Hillary is not — and this is in all caps — endorsing the sponsor. That is, she does not want anyone to think that she actually likes UNLV. No one can take a picture of Hillary and post it to Facebook or tweet it unless, of course, you get her agent’s permission.
I gather UNLV held firm on a provision that no one was allowed to look her directly in the eye and that men were supposed to bow and women curtsy before her. I don’t know who should be more embarrassed, Hillary or UNLV? I only have one question: Who gets to hold her crown while she speaks?
We don’t have royalty in America? We certainly seem to want it. This country was held in thrall for decades by the Kennedy family, not politically as much as culturally and aspirationally. We even called Kennedy’s term “Camelot” after the highest (fictional) ideal of royal governance, which is a strange mythology for a republic to adopt. To a lesser extent, we have seen the same impulse with the Bushes, the Roosevelts, and the Clintons — even to the point of speculating already when Chelsea will begin her long trek back to the White House.
In other systems, we could explain that with noblesse oblige, the duty of the nobility to serve the nation through wielding power (with widely varying degrees of reluctance). We don’t have that type of class system in the US except in established wealth, the sense in which the Kennedys, the Bushes, and the Roosevelts all could claim some kind of service motive, however true it might be. The Clintons became wealthy because of their wielding of power, albeit indirectly, after Bill Clinton worked his way up through the political system in the usual manner of the hoi polloi to the Oval Office: Attorney General, three terms as governor, and then two as President.
Hillary hasn’t even done that. She’s worked her way up by dint of being married to Bill Clinton, and then carpetbagged her way to a Senate seat in New York by riding his coattails on Bill’s exit from the White House. She did serve as Secretary of State for four years on the basis of that springboard, producing a record of almost no distinction in a period of notable disasters. And yet, Hillary Clinton not only barely lost the opportunity to be President in 2008, she’s getting treated as royalty while trying to make a second run at the top job based on not much else than the family brand.
It’s not just the Clintons, either. It’s the Bushes, the Cheneys, and the Kennedys (still), and probably the Obamas later on. It’s not their fault for running; it’s our fault for falling back to the millenia-old notion that certain families have some sort of precedence when it comes to wielding power, whether that comes from being anointed by God to the nobility or from today’s market-oriented ideas of celebrity and branding strength. A constitutional republic should have more sense, and more ambition for self-governance, than to fall back into lazy patterns of reaching for the familiar rather than seeking out those who may have new and better approaches.
Who should be most embarrassed? We should.
Note: Jon’s joining me today on The Ed Morrissey Show, which starts at 4 ET. Be sure to tune in!