What the Clintons tell us about American democracy

Indeed, the fundraising and business and political schemes described in the Times are of such complexity that one hardly knows where to begin. One must fall back, instead, on the indelible images sprinkled throughout the piece: of the foundation buying a first-class ticket for Natalie Portman, accompanied by “her beloved Yorkie,” to attend a 2009 meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative; of longtime Clinton aide Ira Magaziner, “lying on a conference room table in the middle of the meeting because of terrible back spasms, snapping at a staff member”; of operative Doug Band writing Bill Clinton’s statement announcing the former president’s departure from Band’s consulting firm, Teneo, in 2012—a statement that read, “I couldn’t have accomplished half of what I have in my post-presidency without Doug Band”; of Hillary Clinton relocating her personal staff “of roughly seven people” to the foundation’s New York headquarters, where they “will work on organizing Mrs. Clinton’s packed schedule of paid speeches to trade groups and awards ceremonies and assist in the research and writing of Mrs. Clinton’s memoir about her time at the State Department”; and of 33-year-old Chelsea Clinton presuming that the skills she learned at McKinsey, Oxford, and NBC News somehow will empower her to clean up the gigantic and labyrinthine and compromised mess that so perfectly reflects her father’s personality. John Catsimatidis, a prominent Clinton donor who is running for mayor of New York City, told the Times that Chelsea “has to learn how to deal with the whole world because she wants to follow in the footsteps of her father and her mother.” Oh joy.

Following in those footsteps would mean setting up organizations that rely on pledges from major corporations while your associates establish consulting firms charging those same corporations for “strategic advice.” Following in those footsteps would mean flying the banner of “charity” while you act as the middleman between multinational conglomerates and corrupt and indebted third-world governments. Following in those footsteps would mean relying on a cast of veteran stooges despite past failures and leaks to the press as they scramble to inflate their reputations at the cost of your own. Following in those footsteps means diverting a portion of the money pledged to the latest cause of the global elite, and using it to maintain habits of consumption and leisure worthy of Kublai Khan’s stately pleasure dome.