Hillary Clinton Can’t Answer Conflict of Interest Question

As I explained quite a while back, a Hillary Clinton White House could be duplicitous, indeed. And this concerns me. It concerns me a great deal, to be honest. So when she passes up an obvious opportunity to explain why that won’t be the case, and instead laughs the suggestion away, I have to take the time to note it.

A reporter asked Hillary Clinton if it was possible that $800,000 in Clinton income paid for by a group that supports free trade between the United States and Columbia could be a conflict of interest, since she claims to oppose such a deal. (Hopefully more than she “opposed” NAFTA.) After a gaudy laugh (and this wasn’t her “gee, that was funny” laugh, but that annoying “I would like to avoid that question so I’m going to obviously fake laughter and hope my cheerful smile draws your ire away” laugh. Watch one of her debates sometime. The difference is so obvious it’s almost insulting. I mean, can’t she at least practice making it seem sincere?), she asked “How many angels dance on the head of the pin?”

This originally got my attention, because that was the same point the “fictional” Governor Stanton from Primary Colors, a book written by Joe Klein about the 1992 Clinton Presidential campaign, made to his campaign aide, the protagonist Henry Burton. After looking for dirt to dig up on the only other candidate who presented a roadblock between Stanton and the nomination, he was convinced not to take it to the presses by an old friend who committed suicide. So he decided to use it to convince his foe to quit, instead. When the argument was used that it would have been taken to the press had their friend not recently perished, Stanton answers (in an ever-so-slight paraphrase as I could not find the exact quote): “But those are fine little points. We’re talking about angels dancing on a pinhead points.”

When I think of that movie, I always think of two parts. The first is when Stanton’s wife (played by the beautiful Emma Thompson) finds the cell phone Stanton threw out the window in the brush, when he insisted it landed in the trees. His response? “Shoot, you wouldn’t have found it if I hadn’t thrown it out of the window.” I laugh just thinking about it. But the other is that line. For some reason that scene, summed up succinctly by that line, always had a lasting impact on me. So it really struck me that she was using the same line which may or may not be attributed to Bill Clinton during a likewise potentially shady situation.

But at any rate, that was a movie and this is real life. Ultimately her response to that question was, and this is not paraphrased at all, “How do you answer that?”

Perhaps by describing how a group which paid your family a third of what you lent to your campaign will not have any kind of sway over your policy decisions? Just a stab in the dark, here. Maybe by not completely blowing off the question? Just a hint.

She did reiterate she was against the deal, even though Bill Clinton is for it. Her response to that was “Everybody is entitled to their opinion.” Fair enough. But when a person with no prior political office experience has such a large role in their spouse’s White House as she claims she had, how can we not expect the spouse which actually held that position will not have a similarly large role?

By not answering the question, but more so by discounting the legitimacy of a very legitimate question, she did nothing to show that this significant contribution to her economic well-being will have no effect on her decision making capabilities.

In other Clinton news, Bill got jealous of Hillary’s monopoly on lying about Bosnia. Seems he said “[T]here was a lot of fulminating because Hillary, one time late at night when she was exhausted, misstated, and immediately apologized for it, what happened to her in Bosnia in 1995.” He went on to say, “I think she was the first First Lady since Eleanor Roosevelt to go into a combat zone.” Well, Hillary Clinton had “misspoke” on that several times, did not immediately apologize for it, didn’t even immediately admit it was a mistake for that matter, went to Bosnia in 1996 and not 1995, and wasn’t the first First Lady since Eleanor Roosevelt to visit a combat zone. Although, classifying Bill’s comment as a misstatement would be contingent upon what the definition of “one,” “immediately,” “1995,” and “go” is.



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7 responses to “Hillary Clinton Can’t Answer Conflict of Interest Question

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  4. 1dumblonde

    You know, I wonder how we would all do under the pressure of campaigning, not sleeping, having a million facts we had to memorize, having to watch every word we said? Can you honestly tell me that the press is being fair about the Bosnia thing? Has Obama never made a mistake? I feel tired on the candidates’ behalf, even for McCain. He’s 71, Clinton is 60, and Obama’s 46. Of course Obama has an edge on memory. It doesn’t mean he’s the better guy. But even 46 year olds are imperfect.

    I am a teacher. I have made mistakes. Just the other day I said “insanity” was a justification when I meant to say “excuse” and a student corrected me. Should I lose my job? Did I lie? Did Bill Clinton lie when he said 1995 instead of 1996? No, he made a mistake.

    As for the $800,00o possible conflict of interest, I don’t know enough about it, but I will say that people who bash NAFTA have short memories. In 1992 NAFTA was considered something that offered great possibilities. There was GATT and there was already a free trade agreement with Canada. All of the world was headed that way, including the “socialist” governments of New Zealand and Australia. Read Alexandra Maravel’s 1995 article in the Northwestern International Law Review on Nafta as a constitution for how progressives then called liberals saw the possibilities of free trade for women’s development issues, environmentalism, etc.

    The economic problems affecting America now are widely believed to be caused by NAFTA but in fact they are caused by Bush admin policies and economists will tell you so. A lot that gets blamed on NAFTA is not even a result of NAFTA and some of it can be blamed simply on CAPITALISM.

    And as for the way Hillary laughs, aren’t we striking a low blow here? I don’t like the way Obama says “um” all the time, but it isn’t the thing that makes me fear his presidency. It’s his lack of experience and his admitted disdain for doing the bureaucratic stuff. And that he won’t wear a flag pin on his lapel. (Kidding on that, kind of.)

    As always, an interesting post, although usually you are so much more fact-based.

  5. thegreatgeno

    I’m not saying anything negative at all for the way Clinton laughs . . . when it’s a real laugh. It’s that obviously fake laugh she uses when she’s trying to pull one over on us that I hate. Like I said, the difference is so obvious it’s insulting. I know you know what I’m talking about.

    Your points on NAFTA are fair and accurate. (Actually, I’m all for free trade with countries like Canada, who treat their citizens and workers with dignity and respect. Maybe I’ll write a post on free trade . . .) But it’s hardly a good defense for Clinton. Why can’t she just say that? Why should we trust someone who says they were against NAFTA from the beginning when she so clearly was for it, or assures us that she wouldn’t enact free trade with Columbia when her husband and head of her campaign think it’s such a great idea. And it’s not like these are peripheral issues, she’s using them as an integral part of her campaign strategy.

    Okay, for the “memory lapses.” Look, if Bill Clinton said this happened in 1995 two weeks ago, that’d be one thing. If that was his only mistake (I agree it was a mistake), it wouldn’t be worth mentioning. But you’d think by now he’d know what was going on. And every single thing he said was wrong.

    And I’m sorry, but there is no way she “mistakenly” thought she was being shot at by snipers and had to run to her vehicle with her head down to get back to the base . . . when she was listening to a poem by a little girl with her smiling daughter, Cheryl Crow, and Sinbad at her side. She lied. Period. It’s the “Clinton condition,” as it were. And it’s not like she could have mistaken Bosnia for another instance, as she never, I’ll repeat that, NEVER, came under sniper fire. So she knew she was lying when she lied. So is it fair that the press called her on it? Yes, yes it is. I would hope that if Obama lied so blatantly and then insulted our intelligence with such disdain the press would call him on it to.

    This isn’t about never making mistakes, it’s about integrity. And the Clintons have shown, time and time again throughout this campaign, that they don’t have it. At least, that’s my take (I would hope a Clinton supporter would disagree).

    Though if you want to make the argument that Clinton and McCain are too old to maintain appropriate control of their mental capacities, it’s a point I’m willing to concede on Obama’s behalf. ;-)

  6. 1dumblonde

    “I would hope that if Obama lied so blatantly and then insulted our intelligence with such disdain the press would call him on it to.”

    But you know they wouldn’t. The press can’t say anything bad about Obama. He did lie, and is lying, about his ties to his church’s theology. His religious belief is his business, but liberation theology is Marxist, his first book is Marxist, but he swears up and down he’s not a Marxist. Maybe is no longer a Marxist, but then what is he? If he’s not a neo-con, and we know he isn’t, then what has happened to his Marxism? (A lot of people in academe were Marxists in the 80s and less so in the 90s, but he’s never been honest about any ideological move.)

    I am certainly not making an argument (which you know) that Clinton or McCain are too old to be president. McCain is too right wing to be president.

    You just wait until you’re 50, buddy. The other day someone was talking to me about the Russian circus and I had a “memory” of going to it, but I could not locate a time or place and thought: I don’t really know if I did or not.

    Hillary mis-remembered a situation. The pilot has said he announced that there were problems and this might have implanted itself in her memory. I don’t see it as a big deal. In her book it is stated correctly, and she disavowed the comment.

    And as to NAFTA, she says she was a critic of NAFTA from the beginning. That is not the same as being against it; one can be a critic and still be for it. Her husband was president and he signed NAFTA, not her.

  7. thegreatgeno

    You can’t convince me that at 50 years children’s poems start becoming sniper fire. It ain’t going to happen. Believe it or not, I do know people over the age of fifty. They never make such mistakes. (By the way, my grandparents agree that she’s lying through her teeth, so let’s stop making this into a generation gap, can we?) And I love how people talk about how she said it right so many times before she said it wrong. Like one morning she woke up and imagined sniper fire so vividly it was ingrained upon her conscious. Her history of telling the tale accurately is far more damning than it is a legitimate excuse.

    I don’t agree that the press can’t say anything about Obama. They have actually said many a bad thing about him. For example, since you bring up his church, if there was really some vast media conspiracy to ordain Obama do you honestly think the inflammatory comments made by his pastor would have been wallpapered all over TV? What, was that just a ruse to divert the attention from their bias?

    The truth is, and I hate to be the one to break it to you, the media spends much more time and attention on Hillary’s negatives because there’s so much more there. The Clintons, both of them, have been entwined in one scandal after another for twenty years. Of course they’re going to get some bad press.

    Things are going poorly for Clinton. But it can’t be that she’s a lousy candidate, can it? No, it has to be that Obama’s a scary elitist snob with a hidden Marxist agenda and absolutely no qualifications who’s the beneficiary of some vast sexist media conspiracy to anoint the first black President of the United States.

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