June 11, 2014

JAMES TARANTO: Poor Mrs. Clinton: Why she and her husband are an expensive pair of speakers.

Hillary Clinton is making the rounds promoting her new book, or, as our colleague Bret Stephens describes it, her “artifact containing printed words.” In an interview that aired last night, ABC’s Diane Sawyer “wondered if Americans would understand why [Mrs.] Clinton needs a speaking fee of $200,000, ‘five times the median income in this country for one speech,’ ” as the Washington Free Beacon reports.

Mrs. Clinton’s reply: “I thought making speeches for money was a much better thing than getting connected with any one group or company as so many people who leave public life do.”

The former first lady pleaded poverty: “We came out of the White House not only dead broke but in debt. . . . We struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages for houses, for Chelsea’s education, you know, it was not easy. . . . We had to make double the money, because of, obviously, taxes, and then pay off the debts and get us houses and take care of family members.”

There is some truth to this: According to the Associated Press: “[Mrs.] Clinton’s Senate financial disclosure forms, filed for 2000, show assets between $781,000 and almost $1.8 million. . . . The same form, however, showed that the Clintons owed between $2.3 million and $10.6 million in legal bills.”

In response, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus tells the AP: “Whether she was flat broke or not is not the issue. It’s tone deaf to average people.”

Yet there are some factual problems with Mrs. Clinton’s assertions. National Review’s Andrew Johnson notes a New York Times report from December 2000, more than a month before the end of Mr. Clinton’s term, that Mrs. Clinton had just inked a book contract with an $8 million advance.

Don’t diss her, man. She’s down with the working class.