Hillary’s Odyssey
From Senator Clinton’s tergiversations on Iraq to Secretary Clinton’s lies on Benghazi


Victor Davis Hanson

Hillary Clinton is no doubt a talented speaker. She recently went into what the left wing sees as the heart of darkness of the American 1 percent at Goldman Sachs, purportedly gave two brief chats, and walked away with a reported $400,000 in fees. Such compensation is almost as profitable as Hillary’s long-ago cattle-future trading, in which as a talented rookie speculator she beat one-in-several-million odds by parlaying an original $1,000 investment into a $100,000 profit.

That Goldman’s shenanigans were central to the 2008 housing and financial meltdown — and were empowered, in part, by Bill Clinton’s own prior twofer of deregulating Wall Street and appointing to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae greedy, though liberal, incompetents of the likes of James Johnson, Franklin Raines, and Jamie Gorelick — apparently meant nothing to Hillary.

Her current frenetic speaking career is consistent with the ethics that allowed Anthony Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, to freelance as a six-figure private “consultant” while simultaneously working as Hillary’s aide and representing the U.S. State Department. With the Clintons, government service is never quite inseparable from private lucre. The more public anguish is voiced over fairness, and the more loudly the undue influence of big money over big government is criticized, the more both are drawn to just that. The Clintons must think of Wall Street the way the Reverend Jimmy Swaggart used to talk of “the Devil” — a dark force that nonetheless always alights on their shoulders, improperly but successfully seducing them.

Soon Hillary may even outpace Bill in speaking fees, especially after she finishes up her private-equity rounds at places like KKR and the Carlyle Group and follows his footsteps abroad. So much for the revolving door, influence peddling, and all the other Obama reform blather we’ve been saturated with since 2008. I don’t think we are going to see any Occupy Wall Street protesters break into mahogany-paneled rooms to decry Hillary’s post-public-service profiting, doing so little work for so much money from a firm that did so much damage to so many.

In Hillary’s defense, she is not doing anything differently from the host of other former Obama hope-and-change reformist influence peddlers, from Peter Orszag and Larry Summers to Robert Gibbs and Anita Dunn. Her efforts are just more lucrative. Of course, revolving high-finance politics is a bipartisan habit. Yet when one tries to simultaneously pose as an egalitarian, the additional smell of hypocrisy is overwhelming.

The formula for liberal elites is to damn the 1 percent, call for higher taxes on those who did not build their equity empires, shriek about Wall Street, maybe praise Mao Zedong, and then, having obtained enough divine exemption from guilt, get really rich by leveraging past and future “public service.” After all, Goldman kingpins were not paying Hillary for her demonstrable expertise in foreign policy vis-à-vis Russia, her proven record in dealing with the Arab Spring, or her compassion shown to the next of kin of the Benghazi dead.

It is thought of Hillary that she will be a shoo-in not just for the Democratic nomination but also for the presidency itself in 2016. Perhaps — given that she is certainly publicly pivoting away from the disastrous leftward positions that have given us five years of economic doldrums for just about everybody but Goldman Sachs. She is also said to have had smart timing, bailing out just in time from a sinking Obama administration so as to remind Democratic stalwarts that they supposedly made a terrible mistake in the summer of 2008.

But is that completely true? The currently imploding Obamacare is simply a lighter version of Hillarycare, and branded with the same liberal arrogance and dissimulation with which a technocratic class in Washington, always exempt from the concrete ramifications of its own ideology, can dictate from on high what is good for Americans through bigger government, higher taxes, and supposedly enlightened redistribution. And because it is usually impossible to sell more and better things for cheaper prices, lies always ensue. Obamacare may well follow Hillarycare into the dustbin of history.

Aside from conventional wisdom about Hillary’s bright prospects, there is also still her record as a senator and secretary of state. Those tenures were not impressive, and were on occasion notably callous.