Politics & Policy

Conservatives Don’t Care That the Clintons Are Rich

(Alex Wong/Getty Images)
They’re bashing Hillary for her laughable comments — not her wealth.

Over at Salon, the always hapless Elias Isquith believes that he has hit upon some good old-fashioned hypocrisy. “Right-wing Twitter,” Isquith proclaims, “bashes Hillary Clinton for being so wealthy”! Specifically, “the folks who were just recently defending Mitt Romney to the hilt are criticizing Clinton’s speaking fees.” And “rather than attack Clinton for being phony, conservatives and Republicans on Twitter ridiculed her for being so rich”!

Is this true? Not by a long stretch, no. As it happens, a quick look through his own evidence is enough to implant the suspicion that Isquith contrived his rather hysterical conclusion long before he examined the data. Among the nine “representative examples” that are cited, only one takes a shot at how she obtained her money and not a single one of them criticizes Clinton for “being so rich” or “being so wealthy.” Meanwhile, as is wholly consistent with the actual “Right-wing” objection to Clinton’s tone-deaf comments, all but one mocked Clinton for preposterously pretending that, after they had left the White House, she and Bill went through a “not easy” period of “struggle” and were forced ignominiously to “piece together the resources for mortgages, for houses,” and “for Chelsea’s education.”

What of those examples? Setting the tone, the Federalist’s Sean Davis joked that Clinton once

had to rent a vacation home. RENT! Can you even imagine the indignity she must’ve suffered?

At the Washington Free Beacon, Andrew Stiles noted the incongruity of the words “it was not easy” and the supposed burden of “making mortgage payments on multiple mansions.” For his part, the Washington Examiner’s Justin Green scoffed that “Hillary defends making more in an hour than most people do in a year by saying it’s tough to pay for two fancy houses and Chelsea’s college” — again, noting the juxtaposition of her attitude and her lifestyle. Ben Shapiro pointed to “pics of the ‘struggling’ Clintons’ houses,” thereby mocking the idea that anybody who bought a $6 million home in 1999 could claim to have been simultaneously going through hard times. Red State’s Ben Howe made precisely the same point, putting up a photograph of the Clintons’ Chappaqua mansion and connecting it to the satirical hashtag “‪#HillarysStruggle.” Weighing in, John Podhoretz laughed off the claims of genuine financial difficulty by joking that “maybe Hillary could have a paper route.”

Elsewhere, the Washington Examiner’s T. Becket Adams spelled out the lark, writing:

My favorite part of Hillary’s “the struggle is real” interview is when she talks about paying for the family’s “houses.” Plural.

Dan Riehl channeled Steve Martin. “She was born a poor black child,” he wrote, “Hillary Clinton defends her $200,000 speaking fees.” Only David Burge — Iowahawk to those of you on Twitter — took a different approach, describing “Corporate ‘speaking fees’ for politicos” as “tax-deductible open air bribery.”

Isquith complains that the conservatives he quotes spent 2012 “castigating liberals and Democrats for arguing that not all wealth is virtuously earned” but are now insinuating that Hillary’s, at least, was not. Exactly one out of the nine he features does this. How’s that “representative sample” looking, Elias?

Nowhere in the examples cited in his post does anybody suggest that Clinton is too rich to be president, nor does anybody resent her for boasting the trappings of wealth. In each and every offering, it is not her affluence that is criticized, but her attitude — and rightfully so. Even when explicitly walking back her excesses, she seems wholly incapable of recognizing just how she must sound to the outside world. Appearing this morning on Good Morning America, Clinton told Robin Roberts that when Bill “got out of the White House, it meant that we just had to keep working really hard.” Really?

Being a free-market sort, I honestly couldn’t give a hoot how rich the Clintons are. I couldn’t care less how they make their money, either. Would I like to see a country in which nobody was particularly interested in getting close to the once powerful or hearing what he had to say? Sure. Do I wish that former presidents disappeared into the sunset, never to be seen again? Absolutely. But we don’t live in that country. We live in a country in which the Clintons are rock stars, and people will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to be near them. If, when presented with the opportunity, they elect to rake in the money, then good on them. But a sense of propriety at least requires that they be honest about the nature of the gig. Ex-presidents who make $16 million in a year speaking do not have to “work hard,” nor do they “struggle.” By the same token, couples that are genuinely worried about bankruptcy generally refrain from investing in more than one mansion. By the latest estimate, Bill and Hillary now have $200 million to their name. Regardless of what Elias Isquith wishes were the case, few conservatives care much about that per se. We’d just rather not hear sob stories from the most famous woman in the world.

— Charles C. W. Cooke is a staff writer at National Review.


The Latest