All those interested, take note: Hillary Clinton is back. The U.S. presidential elections are two years away and Hillary’s electoral machinery is running in high gear. What else is new? For the Clinton family, money, fame, philanthropy, friendships and betrayals are all means to an end: the White House.
Hillary Clinton spent the entire summer crisscrossing the United States surrounded by media hype worthy of a Rolling Stones tour. The official line was that Hillary was not running for president — she was only promoting a book called “Hard Choices” about her four years at the head of American diplomacy.
But behind the scenes everyone knew what was going on. The electoral campaign had just begun.
The Republicans quickly took the bait. The Republican National Committee even paid a man dressed as a giant squirrel to follow the candidate’s every move for several days. The mascot wore a T-shirt that read: “Another Clinton in the White House is NUTS!”
Hillary Clinton ended up giving a copy of her book to the squirrel. “I hope that you will make the hard choice and read my book,” she said theatrically. The squirrel did not reply. But a Republican spokesperson stated that the creature would keep the book on its “fiction” shelf.
Mrs. Clinton’s book was generally panned by critics. This certainly did not improve the often stormy relationship the politician has with the media. It is hard to forget that Mrs. Clinton described Washington journalists as a bunch of “big egos with no brains.”
New York Magazine was especially cruel: “The book had a dream rollout worthy of J. K. Rowling…And much of the press was unkind to ‘Hard Choices’ itself .… John Dickerson of Slate spoke for many of those hardy few who actually read the book from cover to cover when he described it as ‘the low-salt, low-fat, low-calorie offering with vanilla pudding as the dessert.’”
The conclusion seemed particularly harsh: “No one in her right mind would write a fat book this dull, this unrevealing, and this innocuous unless she were running for president.”
Ouch. A few days later during her appearance on the comedy program “The Daily Show,” host Jon Stewart also got his hands dirty. “I think I speak for everybody when I say no one cares. They just want to know if you're running for president. Are you?”
The more offbeat host of “The Colbert Report” joked about the witty phrases and name-dropping sprinkled throughout Mrs. Clinton’s book.
“God, you know everyone,” he said. “What kind of a loser do you have to be to not be included in your book?”
“Well, you are not in it, Stephen,” she quickly replied.
In retrospect, Hillary Clinton’s summer tour included nearly all the elements of an actual presidential campaign. Crowds of enthusiastic supporters, industrial quantities of speeches, some semi-has-been celebrities like Martha Stewart, back-to-back interviews and — what a surprise! — a few dramatic faux pas. In short, a circus.
In mid-June, Mrs. Clinton caused a small furor after laying out her and former President Bill Clinton’s financial pseudo-hardships. “We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt. We struggled to piece together the resources for mortgages for houses, for Chelsea’s education.”
Sniff. Of course, that did not stop the couple from buying a $1.7 million house in New York state. Or from keeping their $2.8 million residence in Washington’s chic Embassy Row. More broke than that and you’ll be reduced to lighting your fireplace with $100 bills like some lowly millionaire.
But let’s stay on track. In the middle of summer when political news is rather slow, Hillary Clinton’s gaffe made the media’s day. They quickly added up the speaking fees amassed by the Clintons at conferences across the globe. Between 2001 and 2014, Bill Clinton received $104.9 million. The less charming but still quite popular Hillary Clinton raked in over $16 million since 2013. About $200,000 per speech.
Republican opponents giddily detailed the many demands set forth by superstar Hillary before each trip. Like the private jet and presidential suites, to name a few. “It's the highest form of hypocrisy from a politician who constantly denounces the growing gap between the rich and poor,” bleated clamorous radio host Rush Limbaugh.*
“They are just throwing stuff against the wall to see what will stick,” a spokesperson for Mrs. Clinton replied. “This will not stick. This is not the way to attack her.”
The Clinton Universe
When it comes to its finances, the Clinton family has a nice collection of skeletons hidden in its closet. Especially about the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, which boasts $230 million in assets. No one is denying that the organization does good work. It’s just that in the wonderful world of the Clintons, it’s hard to distinguish between family income, philanthropy, lobbying and electoral spending.
“The Clintons keep acting as though all they care about is selfless public service. So why does it keep coming back to gross money grabs?” asked New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. “Hillary doesn’t see the disconnect between expressing grave concern about mounting student loan debt while scarfing six-figure sums from at least eight colleges, and counting.”
They say that wealth and fame make you world-class enemies. Hillary Clinton is no exception. Two weeks after its release, her book “Hard Choices” was outsold by an anti-Clinton political treatise written by her worst enemy, Edward Klein.
For Klein, the Clinton hunt is open year round and is preferably done with a bazooka. His books are a smart blend of fabrications, gossip and pure paranoia. In his last work, “Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. the Obamas,” Hillary and Barack end up in a physical confrontation. “It hurt,” President Obama ashamedly admitted to his wife.
A Historical First?
You know what they say, dogs bark, but the caravans move on.
There are two years until the next presidential election and Hillary Clinton is the overwhelming favorite despite her critics’ efforts. At the end of August, she still held a comfortable lead over her closest Republican rivals, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Florida governor Jeb Bush.
Peoples’ interest in having a female president is hard to ignore. According to a Gallup poll conducted last spring, 18 percent of electors would vote for Mrs. Clinton to see a woman enter the White House. That’s twice as many as those that support her because of her extensive experience.
An enormous electoral machine is already at work even though Hillary has not officially announced her candidacy. Ready for Hillary is making lists of volunteers and activists. Priorities USA is raising considerable sums. Correct the Numbers is even stepping in on social media to debunk incorrect statements about the candidate — a job only slightly less ambitious than Hercules’ 12 labors.
It feels like déjà vu. In 2006, two years before the presidential election, Hillary also seemed to have an insurmountable lead. We know the rest. Much to everyone’s surprise, Hillary Clinton was beaten by the more charismatic, inspiring Barack Obama. The dream of a woman becoming president ended in bitterness.
Has the “quasi-candidate” learned from her mistakes? A sign of the times: She distanced herself from President Obama’s “overly cautious” foreign policy. “‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle,” she stated.
But that doesn’t mean that Hillary is being too audacious. It took her three weeks to comment on the events in Ferguson, Missouri, after a young black man was killed by a white police officer.
The road to the White House will be quite long indeed.
According to a recent survey, every candidate would be left in the dust by fictional “Star Wars” characters if they ran against them in an election.
Even the extremely evil Darth Vader, the very same one who destroyed an entire planet, would beat Hillary Clinton hands down.
There’s nothing like “Star Wars” to bring you back down to Earth.
1947: Born in Chicago
1973: Graduated from Yale University’s prestigious law school
1975: Wed Bill Clinton, who would be elected governor of Arkansas in 1979
1980: Birth of Chelsea, who would be kept away from her parents’ political activities before reaching adulthood
1993: Bill Clinton became the 42nd president of the United States. As first lady, Hillary Clinton spearheaded a controversial plan for health care reform, which had to be abandoned in 1994
2001 to 2009: State senator for New York
2008: Defeated by Barack Obama during the Democratic presidential primaries
2009 to 2013: United States Secretary of State
Are you a “Clintonite”?
This quiz will test your knowledge of the Clinton family.
>> 1. In March 2014, how many Americans admitted that they would never vote for a female presidential candidate?
a) 38 percent b) 4 percent c) 16 percent d) 20 percent
>> 2. Prior to the release of Hillary Clinton’s latest book, “Hard Choices,” about her four years as the United States’ top diplomat, The Washington Post asked its readers to suggest some titles for the book. Among the suggestions they received, which of the following was Mrs. Clinton’s favorite?
a) “The Scrunchie Chronicles: 112 Countries and It’s Still All about My Hair”
b) “Diplomacy is the Art of Saying ‘Nice doggie’ Until You Can Find a Rock.”
c) “Diplomacy is the Art of Making Cracked Ceramic Tiles Last.”
d) “We Should Declare War on a Small Country. We Could Pave the Whole Country and Put Parking Stripes on It and Still Be Home by Christmas.”
>> 3. True or false? In 2011, NBC was at the heart of a minor controversy after offering Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of Bill and Hillary, $300,000 a year for a kind of part-time job as a “special correspondent.”
>> 4. How many years has the United States had at least one Bush or Clinton family member as president, vice-president, or secretary of state since January 1981?
a) 32 years b) 17 years c) 23 years d) 34 years
>> 5. In 1999, American journalists ranked the sex scandal involving Bill Clinton and White House intern Monica Lewinsky 53rd on a list of the 20th century’s most important stories. What did Bill Clinton say when he learned of this?
a) “Sometimes I feel like a fire hydrant looking at a pack of dogs.”
b) “I don't know whether [the White House] is the finest public housing in America or the crown jewel of the American penal system.”
c) “Being president is like running a cemetery: You've got a lot of people under you and nobody’s listening.”
d) “What’s a man got to do to get in the top fifty?”
1. b) Source: Gallup. 2. a) 3. False. Chelsea Clinton was making $600,000 a year. 4. a) In January 2013, no member of the Bush or Clinton families was president, vice president, or secretary of state, the first time since January 1981. 5. d)
*Editor’s Note: The original quotation, accurately translated, could not be verified.