Clintonian Natural Law: Ex-President Insists It Is Perfectly Natural For Donors To Seek Favors

 

bill_clinton_by_gage_skidmoreClinton lawyers must have been wincing yesterday as former President Bill Clinton sought to defuse the criticism of the Clintons in accepting money from a wide variety of businesses and foreign parties (including dubious donors) with interests before the State Department. Bill Clinton took to the airways to insist that it is perfectly natural for donors to seek favors at the State Department and that he and Hillary trusted government officials to do the right thing in dealing with such requested favors. That is hardly going to help.  Even if you dismiss the controversy with an “everyone does it” defense, the problem remains that Hillary Clinton was not some politician but the Secretary of State and the donors were seeking official actions by the United States government.  It sounds like an admission that some wanted to “pay and play” but the Clinton left it to others to refuse to play.


When asked about the ongoing controversies, Clinton dismissed questions of corruption by saying that “it was natural” for donors to seek favors from the Clintons because he “trusted” that the State Department would avoid any conflicts. It sounded like the Clintons had no duty to avoid even the appearance of impropriety and felt free to accept millions by shifting the burden to some unknown bureaucrats to mind the ethical line: “It was natural for people who’ve been our political allies and personal friends to call and ask for things. And I trusted the State Department wouldn’t do anything they shouldn’t do.”

That cannot be helpful for Hillary Clinton. Many voters are balking at the choices this election. At a time when voters clearly indicated that they did not want another establishment candidate, the Democrats came forward with perhaps the ultimate such candidate. Now, to have Bill Clinton explain to voters that it is only natural to make donations and seek favors, the message seems to be that “this is just how things are done” in politics. That is precisely what a sizable number of voters want to stop.

Clinton did deny that there was any “pay to play” but the articulation of a type of Clintonian Natural Law of Politics is not likely to appeal to uneasy independents in this election.

90 thoughts on “Clintonian Natural Law: Ex-President Insists It Is Perfectly Natural For Donors To Seek Favors

  1. “Bill Clinton took to the airways to insist that it is perfectly natural for donors to seek favors at the State Department and that he and Hillary trusted government officials to do the right thing in dealing with such requested favors.”

    The first part of this sentence is an enlightened reflection on human nature; the last part of the sentence is an ignorant expectation on human nature. If it’s natural to seek favors then it’s equally natural to grant them.

    Madison wrote in Federalist #51:
    “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”

    The electorate fulfills Madison’s reflection on “the people”. They have proven insufficient to the task of controlling government. In fact they have come to believe because someone has been elected to public office from a political party they support, that the public servant is then immune from their own nature. Conversely, if the candidate is from the opposing party then every evil imaginable will come of it.

    Why do private citizens try to buy favors from public servants? Because they are buyable. Why do public servants sell favors? Because they are saleable. Why do we have a rule of law? It has become increasingly apparent, to protect government from the people.

    • When? Frederic Bastiat has a good answer for that:

      “Man can live and satisfy his wants only by ceaseless labor; by the ceaseless application of his faculties to natural resources. This process is the origin of property.

      But it is also true that a man may live and satisfy his wants by seizing and consuming the products of the labor of others. This process is the origin of plunder.

      Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain — and since labor is pain in itself — it follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work. History shows this quite clearly. And under these conditions, neither religion nor morality can stop it.

      When, then, does plunder stop? It stops when it becomes more painful and more dangerous than labor.

      It is evident, then, that the proper purpose of law is to use the power of its collective force to stop this fatal tendency to plunder instead of to work. All the measures of the law should protect property and punish plunder.

      But, generally, the law is made by one man or one class of men. And since law cannot operate without the sanction and support of a dominating force, this force must be entrusted to those who make the laws.

      This fact, combined with the fatal tendency that exists in the heart of man to satisfy his wants with the least possible effort, explains the almost universal perversion of the law. Thus it is easy to understand how law, instead of checking injustice, becomes the invincible weapon of injustice. It is easy to understand why the law is used by the legislator to destroy in varying degrees among the rest of the people, their personal independence by slavery, their liberty by oppression, and their property by plunder. This is done for the benefit of the person who makes the law, and in proportion to the power that he holds.”

      • Olly, a great quote from someone every single teenager should read. The Law by Frederic Bastiat.

        Just so others know, Bastiat was a French Legislator in the 1850s, when Marx published his manifesto and the ruling oligarchs started using his strategies to pilfer and plunder the masses. He word write the arguments against communism, after they were introduced during the legislative sessions, and put them out in the form of pamphlets, common during those times. He was of course trying to inform the Citizens what some of their less than honest legislators were attempting to do.

        Of course part of Marx’s ploy was show them how to deceive the working class. “In the name of the common good” and of course the working class, as we even see today, did not listen to Bastiat.

        • Just so others know, Bastiat was a French Legislator in the 1850s, when Marx published his manifesto and the ruling oligarchs started using his strategies to pilfer and plunder the masses.

          There were no command economies in Europe in the 1850s, or, indeed, anywhere prior to 1917. There were not any reliably social democratic governments in Europe until the inter-War period. You can take social democracy to task for many problematic features, but gaming to ‘pilfer and plunder the masses’ is not one.

          • ‘pilfering and plundering’ the masses is the result of a government that ignores it’s actual purpose: “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,”

            The principles of a just government are self-evident. Debating the various forms of government established in the mid-19th or 21st or 18th or 10th centuries and so on is a fool’s errand unless they are being measured against the only legitimate purpose for which governments exist. And how do you measure a government that ‘exceeds’ its purpose? Bastiat explains further:

            “But, unfortunately, law by no means confines itself to its proper functions. And when it has exceeded its proper functions, it has not done so merely in some inconsequential and debatable matters. The law has gone further than this; it has acted in direct opposition to its own purpose. The law has been used to destroy its own objective: It has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights which its real purpose was to respect. The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder. And it has converted lawful defense into a crime, in order to punish lawful defense.”

              • “Shut up”? How eloquent of you. And thank you for the compliment. The first two paragraphs were not “cut and paste”, they were mine. They were a counter-‘argument’ to your post which you clearly did not recognize or more likely had no reasonable response. I understand things as I see them. If I’m wrong then YOU make the argument. But to respond with “shut up”…nicely done!

                • Olly is his own man. Rarely do I see him quote someone and then it is credited. Teaching Spastics to Dance, your nom de plume is new to the game here. If you are a newbie, listen and learn. If you are an oldie, shame, shame on you.

  2. Oh, Lord. Does Bill Clinton subconsciously want Hillary to fail? Because his help has been questionable over the past couple of years. There was that recent interview, in fact, where he said that Hillary frequently faints when she gets overheated, and then changed it to rarely. The media edited out his “frequently” slip up, but then was forced to air it in its entirety.

    Of COURSE it’s natural for donors to seek favors. If you financially support your sister’s husband’s cousin’s son, and you need someone to mow your lawn, you’re going to expect him to do it without complaint. This is EXACTLY why you have to recuse yourself from such conflicts of interest.

    It’s pay to play in Clinton World, and their voters are eagerly awaiting the media to explain to them why it’s really all OK, and a vast right wing conspiracy, and Trump is racist and it’s all his fault, really…

  3. I would like to see a list of specific “quid pro quo” actions that resulted from any of this. Certainly a lot of “quid” was paid. But what was the result, exactly, besides innuendo? Does anyone know?

  4. Good God, how badly our government needs to be cleaned. I have heard all the reasons Trump is bad but if for no other reason I will vote for him to start a clean sweep of the aristocrat politicians in Washington. If I knew Gary or Jill could win I would vote for them. We need to limit the time these people hold office so bad and no perks after they leave. Obamacare, not one of them on it and the demoncrats shoved it right down our throats.

    Has anyone heard from Squeeky?

  5. Prairie Rose THANKS! That has to be one of the best of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas and I love that song since it is one that I can sing in my vocal range. The words and story are great as well.

    As for the so called pay for play, it is not illegal as the SCOTUS has ruled with the Citizens United decision. I wish that Prof Turley would specifically call for Justice Thomas’ impeachment for perjury and extreme conflict of interest in that ruling. So while what Trump and Clinton have done is not illegal, it sure as hell looks very bad and should be outlawed. I would also appreciate his input as to HOW this can be done by legislation. Without specific measures to propose, it is simply a cry about supposed illegality rather than a FACT.

    • Glad you enjoyed it, randyjet. One, it shows that very little has changed (doesn’t justify it of course), but two, it injected some much needed levity into this dismal business of politics.

      Those are great questions about Citizens United and legislation. The “separate but equal” ruling (cannot remember the name of the case now) was overturned by Brown vs the Board of Education. Perhaps something similar could occur??? I need to read up on Citizens United, but it strikes me as a likely Orwellian-named decision.

  6. The wealthy and big corporations bought the government, why are we surprised when they use it to their advantage.

    The biggest crock, is the selective enforcement of bribery and other frauds. Don Siegelman, former governor of Alabama, has been in jail for years for doing far less than Trump did to bribe the Florida Secretary of State. He was railroaded by Karl Rove and Republican prosecutors and judge in a political vendetta that should have been fixed long ago.

    • randyjet – Obamacare is very unpopular. I can think of only one aspect about it that I like – the removal of pre-existing conditions exclusions. Of course, that’s not really “insurance.” Out of a bill that stacks up to 6 feet tall, that’s it. That’s the only thing that was positive.

      Other than that, it gave us county-level healthcare with Cadillac premiums and Catastrophic only deductibles. And nobody good accepts it, so you have to pay out of pocket to be seen. Off formulary drugs are no longer given any benefits, so that’s an additional out of pocket expense. I was so grateful to get a part time job just so I could get the “good” insurance and get off of Obamacare, and actually see a doctor. And I’m not the only one, because Obamacare is wildly unpopular. Plus they deliberately lied to us to get it to pass, so they had no confidence in their own bill. Of course, now the most common reason against repealing this wildly unpopular bill, passed through fraud, is they don’t want people to lose their insurance. Really? They had no problem with millions of us losing the insurance we were happy with as a direct result of passing Obamacare. Why was it OK for me to lose my policy that covered every doctor I wanted and had a premium I could afford? Am I worth less?

      You indicate it’s inhumane for your wife to lose insurance. I declare it was inhumane for me to lose mine. It is inhumane that Obamacare was a financial catastrophe to the middle class. That it offered a false promise of quality insurance, when in fact it’s the equivalent of county health care. The only doctors who accept it have to utilize a factory model, spending less and less time with patients to get as much money as they can, because of the 30% pay cut Obamacare handed them. It is common knowledge that health care quality improves when doctors spend more time with patients. So what did politicians do to “help”? Why, they cut doctor reimbursement so the good ones wouldn’t accept it at all, and the bad ones would just heap more patients on the schedule and spend less time with them.

      And let’s not forget that the most devastating result of Obamacare was that insurers tightened provider networks. Before, you could take your insurance to a great many doctors, even travel out of state to a specialist. Now, if you get cancer, and you don’t happen to live next door to the treatment specialists who are experts in your particular disease, you are doomed. This kind of “help” robs people of their chance at remission.

      Of course, there is also the growing monopoly of insurers, as companies flee the marketplace in droves. What do we know about monopolies? They reduce customer satisfaction, don’t care about complaints, and cost more. And what does Obamacare do? It creates monopolies.

      Finally, let me remind you why I had to stop being a full time Mom and find a job. Someone stole my identity, common in today’s world. My bank put a hold on my debit card and sent me a new one. Again, who hasn’t had this happen by 2016? Only, this apparently interfered with my autopay premium. So they canceled me. Since I’m not subsidized (and therefor the scum of the Earth middle class), I only had 30 days to pay the premium after it was due. If I was subsidized (and therefor a superior human being), I would have had 90. I didn’t even know there was a problem before it was too late. Didn’t even think about it. Of course, when I was cancelled, I thought it would be an easy fix. Sent them a letter from my bank that I was the victim of a crime. Contacted the insurance company’s CEO. Nope. Written into the law itself, I would be cancelled. I could have been shipwrecked on a deserted island and they still would not reinstate me. My doctor’s office told me that they had MANY patients who suffer the same fate.

      So now I’m no longer a stay at home Mom. BUT my insurance premium gets taken directly out of my pay check, so I won’t have to worry about that anymore.

      And my 2 friends who were subsidized got so fed up at the county style doctors that they now pay out of pocket to see a good doctor, costing them way more than before.

      You have NO moral high ground if you support Obamacare.

      • Obamacare is in need of a tune up. Medicare for all is the most moral and just option. The candidates that express support for Medicare for all should be supported.

        • You would benefit from learning about true justice. Dr. Jonathan Haidt does an excellent job of explaining the difference between just treatment vs. equal outcomes.

          I do like keeping my children on until age 26

    • Hillary Clinton calls herself a liar!

      Issac, there are other candidates to support. You support a murder, torturer, ruiner of the poor, war monger, anti people of color, wall street darling!, dictator darling! WTF????

      Citizens have to say no to the powerful evil people on “their” team, Republican or Democrat. It’s amazing how Democrats just love their fascists!

      • Every President past, president, and future has been, is, and will be a murderer, torturer, ruiner of the poor, war monger, and all the opposite at the same time. It comes with the job. The decision to drop a bomb does not come with guarantees that innocents won’t die. In the end you want someone who knows the job and can do the job. There is no one who won’t make mistakes. The choice is unfortunately between a sleaze bag politician, liar, who has been there and a pathological liar, narcissistic money grubbing, and inept carnival barker. One has experience in the real world and the other has spent his life in la la land.

        Clinton lies, sometimes when it would be better to simply call it a learning experience. Trump seems to lie without thinking and to see what he can get away with. Trump’s ego is so out of proportion with reality that he simply would be the more dangerous of the two.

        On top of that, Trump would be going against most of the Republican party as well as the whole Democratic party. Clinton could and would get more done, more with a Democratic house but even with a Republican house more than Trump. No one in recent history has had this many of his own party against him.

        The issue is not which liar lies the most or is the most distasteful but who will get ‘something’ done and what the make up of the Supreme Court will be. That buffoon Scalia put America backwards on two points. If America is ever going to throw off the harness of the oligarchs and concentrated political funding then it will be with a Democrat appointed Supreme Court.

        There are larger issues than which liar gets in. Trump seems to lie just for the fun of it. Pick your poison, but it isn’t limited to four years of nonsense and being laughed at by the world. Trump will put America back a generation. Look at the last idiot Republican President and the damage he did.

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