Hillary Clinton clearly a highly intelligent person and also someone who closely follows scripted lines as part of “message discipline” that is the signature of major politicians. It is for that reason that I fail to understand how she can get herself even deeper into her earlier gaffe on being “dead broke” after leaving the White House. Clinton clearly wants to be portrayed as a working stiff and connect to millions of struggling Americans. However, it is falling as flat as Forbes tax rate. As we discussed, leading nonpartisan groups have derided the claim as untrue. What is interesting is that the mainstream media moved quickly past the comment. Now even mainstream outlets like ABC and CNN and Washington Post are shredding Clinton over her most recent comment that average people do not view her as part of the problem of the super rich and that “unlike a lot of people who are truly well off” she and Bill made their tens of millions from the “dint of hard work.”
The latest statement came in a Guardian interview when Clinton was asked about how “America’s glaring income inequality is certain to be a central bone of contention in the 2016 presidential election.” Clinton assured the interviewer “they don’t see me as part of the problem.” The reason is because “we pay ordinary income tax, unlike a lot of people who are truly well off, not to name names; and we’ve done it through dint of hard work.”
Bill and Hillary Clinton have reportedly made more than $100 million since leaving the White House. Most people who are working on road crews and waiting tables to put food on the table would not view Hillary Clinton’s receiving $500,000 in one week from Goldman Sachs for two speeches to be “the dint of hard work.” They would view it as the “taint of influence buying.” Likewise, as Bill Clinton was setting up a windfall of speeches, the couple used fundraiser Terry McAuliffe (now, the governor of Virginia) to secure a loan for a $1.7 million home in Chappaqua, N.Y. — one of multiple properties for the Clintons.
The Clinton camp is clearly worried about those liberals who oppose Clinton due to her support for the wars, including wars during her time as Secretary of State in Libya and Syria. However, the effort to convert her into a women of the people is alienating even the more liberal media and worse yet making her the butt of jokes. I watched as CNN, usually a favorable venue for Clinton, mocking the latest statement.
Clinton charges six figures a speech and has racked in half a million for a two speech combo. This is clearly good work if you can find it but it is not the basis for a modern Horatio Alger story. She risks looking ridiculous in this continued pitch of the common folk. Like a bad gambler at Vegas, Clinton seems unwilling to abandon the new spin despite rising losses.
In fairness to Clinton, her comment about “unlike a lot of people who are truly well off” was probably intended as a recognition that she is indeed well off but at least pays her taxes. It was intended as a new spin after the “dead broke” disaster. That is how I read it as opposed to saying that she is not well off. However, she quickly derailed again with the statement about how she is viewed by average people and how her massive fortune was the result of “hard work.” For the Clintons, who are legendary for message discipline and spin, it is a weird rhetorical rut. This comes after the disclosure of memos on reinventing her image and a meeting with the New York Times on future coverage of the presidential hopeful. The rollout is clearly hitting some self-made speed bumps.
What I find intriguing is the sensitivity of wealth in today’s politics with fantastically wealthy people like Clinton and Romney pitching their life stories to a majority of Americans who make less each year than their entertainment and vacation budgets. However, they need a narrative that will resonate with economic difficulties. Most of us would say that they should simply not try, but politicians need to show that they feel the pain of voters even if they don’t. Clinton is obviously not alone in his dilemma and this will not be the last such spin gone bad for our aspiring presidents.