The campaign of class-warrior Hillary Clinton is pushing the panic button over the prospective release of secret transcripts of high-dollar speeches she made to Goldman Sachs that threaten to portray her as a two-faced un-progressive Wall Street elitist who is out of touch with the common people.
The Democrats’ leading avatar of avarice depicts herself as the candidate of Occupy Wall Street, a fearless champion of the downtrodden, but the transcripts of three speeches for which Goldman paid her an astonishing $675,000 threaten to torpedo the false, focus group-friendly image she has cultivated.
In the speeches to her fellow one-percenters, she reportedly comes across as unduly cozy with the financial titans that her angry left-wing base blames for most of America’s (and the world’s) problems today. In the current political environment publication of the transcripts could be as damaging to her run as Republican Mitt Romney’s ruinous “47 percent” speech was to his 2012 campaign.
One speech attendee reportedly said Clinton “sounded more like a Goldman Sachs managing director” than a politician. This phrase could easily end up in her Democratic opponent’s TV ads as the race shifts to the March 1 vote in critical South Carolina.
The matter now takes on an even greater urgency for Clinton after Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist, crushed her in the New Hampshire primary elections Tuesday. At press time Sanders had a reported 60 percent of the Democratic vote, compared to just 38 percent for Clinton. Clinton’s humiliation in New Hampshire comes after party insiders’ dirty tricks enabled her to just barely limp away from the Iowa caucuses a week ago with a victory over Sanders.
Clinton’s duplicitousness could end up being her undoing.
Politico reported in 2013 that Wall Street plutocrats felt reassured by a speech Hillary had delivered away from TV cameras. Sources in attendance paraphrased her saying that “the banker-bashing so popular within both political parties was unproductive and indeed foolish.”
The article continued:
“Striking a soothing note on the global financial crisis, she told the audience, in effect: We all got into this mess together, and we’re all going to have to work together to get out of it. What the bankers heard her to [sic] say was just what they would hope for from a prospective presidential candidate: Beating up the finance industry isn’t going to improve the economy—it needs to stop. And indeed Goldman’s Tim O’Neill, who heads the bank’s asset management business, introduced Clinton by saying how courageous she was for speaking at the bank.”
During another 2013 speech at a Goldman retreat in Arizona for which she pocketed $225,000, Mrs. Clinton was bursting with praise for the investment bank’s capital-generating and job-creation efforts. She lauded Goldman for its workplace diversity and conspicuously left out any criticism of the company or of the financial sector for any role it may have played in the 2008 stock market collapse.
“It was pretty glowing about us,” said one person who heard the speech. “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.”
Releasing the transcript “would bury her against Sanders,” the individual said. “It really makes her look like an ally of the firm.”
In a separate speech the same year to Goldman and some of its major clients Clinton refused to blame the banks alone for causing the market meltdown from which the U.S. economy has yet to fully recover.
Sounding like a Republican or a libertarian economist, Hillary said the landmark Dodd-Frank financial reform law of 2010 may have contributed to the financial crisis.
“It was mostly basic stuff, small talk, chit-chat,” said one witness. “But in this environment, it could be made to look really bad.”
Clinton mouthpiece Brian Fallon huffed that the anonymous recollections were “pure trolling,” but as Bernie Sanders keeps pounding away at the Clinton campaign, attacking her from the left as a tool of special interests, the pressure on Clinton to release the transcripts grows.
“The big-picture question voters care about is: Who does a politician surround themselves with and will they hold accountable people they have a close relationship with?” Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee was quoted as saying.
“Hillary Clinton would reassure voters if she said she would appoint a Treasury secretary not from Wall Street, an attorney general and SEC chair with a proven record of holding Wall Street accountable, and generally work with [Sen.] Elizabeth Warren [D-Mass.] to stop the revolving door between industry and government.”
The former secretary of state has pushed back against allegations of corporate water-carrying in recent days.
And on Monday she directed her fire against her primary opponent, offering an unconvincing argument.
“Sen. Sanders took about $200,000 from Wall Street firms. Not directly, but through the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee,” Clinton said. “There was nothing wrong with that. It hasn’t changed his view! Well, it didn’t change my view or my vote either!”
Townhall’s Guy Benson opines that releasing the speech transcripts could be fatal for Clinton. It “would further undermine her credibility among the Democratic base’s rabidly anti-Wall Street base, buttress one of Bernie Sanders’ central lines of attack, and again expose her as self-serving and genetically incapable of ruthful candor.”
That Hillary Clinton still has any credibility with anyone anywhere at this point in her career is hard for rational people to accept.
She’s an awful candidate and “a congenital liar,” as New York Times columnist William Safire famously dubbed her.
And her fevered attempts to depict her family as ordinary people facing the same problems everyone faces have fallen flat.
This is the person who in 2014 tried to portray her family as financially struggling when her husband’s presidency ended in 2001.
“You have no reason to remember, but we came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt,” Clinton told ABC’s Diane Sawyer with a straight face. “We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to piece together the resources for mortgages for houses, for Chelsea’s education.” [italics added]
But as Politico reports, the Clintons “are far from the ‘dead broke’ couple, as she has described, who left the White House saddled with debt after Bill Clinton’s presidency. In fact, they now rank comfortably among the top one-tenth of the top 1 percent of earners.”
Disclosure forms indicated that at best the Clintons had a net worth of negative $500,000. But those documents did not include the five-bedroom home in Chappaqua, N.Y., they purchased in 1999 for $1.7 million. Also not included was the seven-bedroom house across the street from the Royal Danish Embassy in Washington, D.C., that they bought in late 2000 for $2.85 million.
By 2001 Hillary had received $2.84 million in royalties from Simon and Schuster and by 2004 she was the 10th-wealthiest member of the U.S. Senate, with a net worth somewhere between $10 million and $50 million.
Hillary earns more for a 20-minute speech than a fast food employee makes in a year. The Clintons pay more than $100,000 a year in local property taxes on two fancy homes. Then there is the international clearinghouse for future presidential favors known as the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. How the money moves around isn’t entirely clear but surely at least some of the anticipatory bribes paid to the charity by foreign governments and huge multinationals find their way to the Clintons’ bank accounts.
Although Hillary Clinton, the supposedly inevitable nominee who managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in 2008, is (again) in trouble during primary season, it is still too early to write her political obituary.
Clinton has waited eight years for her postponed coronation and this is probably the last opportunity she will ever have to make her mark on history.
Hillary still has more than a few tricks up the sleeve of her pantsuit.