Carville: Attack the Clinton Foundation and you're risking your very soul, or something

Well, I guess I have even more material for my next confession. Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned …  James Carville and Joe Scarborough went at it this morning over the Clinton Foundation and its emerging connections to Hillary Clinton’s activities at the State Department. Carville keeps arguing that “the Clintons never took a nickel out of the Foundation,” a declaration that Scarborough demolishes by noting the sudden hikes in Bill Clinton’s speaking fees to entities with business before the State Department. Carville then shifts to declaring that those critics responsible for shutting down the foundation through their oh-so-unreasonable demand that it stop accepting foreign donations will find their eternal souls in a place hotter than Bahrain.

Perhaps Hillary won’t accept calls from there, but it seems to be the only place she won’t:

Pressed on whether the Clinton Foundation should have clamped down on foreign donations before Clinton became secretary of state, Carville responded, “If you ask me as a political adviser, of course.”

“If you ask me as a human being, eh, I’m not too sure. As a human being I think the foundation does an enormous amount of good. From a strictly political standpoint, yeah,” Carville said, invoking his Catholic sixth-grade teacher to say, “somebody is going to hell over this. Because somebody, now I’m not saying here—or somewhere is. This is saving people’s lives.”

Co-host Joe Scarborough did not take kindly to the sentiment.

“I wish I could say the word I want to say. I’ll just say that’s BS,” Scarborough remarked. “You know the fact is if it’s a great charity and it’s a five-star rated charity, guess what, other people can raise the money. It doesn’t have to be Bill Clinton calling somebody up making people think, if I give him money it could help me out. If it’s a great charity, it can stand on its own and other people can raise money for it. It’s not a zero-sum game. It’s not having Bill Clinton raise money while his wife is running for president or else we’re all going to hell and little kids are going to die across the planet.”

Charity begins at home! It’s not the first time that Carville has trotted out the corruption-saves-lives argument. He tried it out on Anderson Cooper last night, too:

If Carville truly wants to use his Catholic-school education, he might recall this instruction: You cannot commit evil to do good. Besides, the Clinton Foundation isn’t the only charity in the world to work on these issues, regardless of Carville’s hysterics over the last 24 hours, and it won’t be the only place for these dollars to go in the future either. The reason it attracts the cash now is because of the links between the Clintons and power, links that apparently got exploited for all they were worth while Hillary ran State.

Carville’s contention that the Clinton Foundation is a “five-star charity” is nonsense, too. Charity Navigator watch-listed it as a “problematic” organization for years, and to this day will not provide a rating for it thanks to transparency issues. The Sunlight Foundation — not exactly a bastion of conservative activism — took a more direct approach, calling it a “slush fund” for the Clintons. As I noted last year, its track record is actually terrible:

Its passthrough rates for actual programmatic grants only came to 15% of its revenues while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, and just 6.4% in the first year after it (2013). More than 60% of the revenues got spent on administration alone; in 2013, the foundation spent almost as much on just air travel as it did on grants.

Perhaps in the future, the dollars that would have gone into the slush fund will find their way to the suffering millions Carville invokes as the critics’ guides to the Nether Regions. Kudos to Scarborough for calling shenanigans on this deeply cynical spin, and perhaps at some point he can help Carville pull his head out of his own nether regions. That might even be worth an indulgence or two.