The Hill and Bill Show: Hopefully Going on Hiatus
Saturday Night Live is on the money portraying the Clintons' joint-presidency as a tall tale. With daughter Chelsea in tow and the carpetbagging couple ensconced, the White House would truly convert into one heck of a circus.
To be sure a bevy of autocrats and despots from the outreaches of Kazakhstan to the Saudi embassy in Washington look forward to this tried-and-true couple that delivers. If you think the "Clingtons" did well selling the Lincoln Bedroom -- just you wait!
In the Senate Hillary has proven as good at co-habitating with special interests and lobbies that mine Washington's canyons as she was with her roving-eyed husband after Monica. In Clintonland things like power and money are supreme values.
Both Bill's library and his charitable foundation sit on tens of millions of dollars of disclosed -- and undisclosed -- gifts from dictators, assorted businessmen, and failed governments, all paid to ensure peace of mind. A new presidency offers fresh horizons: America goes on sale.
Inside the new White House, Hillary will remain paralyzed on either side of every issue -- for the war in Iraq and for withdrawal, against terrorists but ambivalent to the war on terror, for NAFTA while trying to cancel it. In her own mind, Hillary is indeed the workingman's best friend, but she would never invite such rabble to champagne on the lawn. That is reserved for their wealthy employers; the others can eat cake.
Outside, Bill will be busy mining new ore. Ticking meter in hand, the man will serve as special emissary, consigliere extraordinaire, anxious to move into a next generation of bilking.
Among many wrecked things in this scenario is the cherished notion of America as a republic. For twenty years, ever since George Herbert Walker Bush became the 41st president of the United States, two families, the Bushes and the Clintons, alternated presidents and that's not counting senior's two terms as vice president. The thought of another eight years of pseudo monarchy is revolting.
Meanwhile, "we" is fast becoming official oratory in Clinton talk.
Hillary speaks of how well "we" did in government from 1993 on, how "we" served America, how "we" kept the peace, etc. In her playbook she was not spouse, but co-president, very much the sense of entitlement evident already in Chelsea. Daughter Chelsea's bizarre ban on media inquiries even at public rallies where she exhorts people to "vote for my Mom" speaks of her budding inclinations. Queens prefer monologues and hold onto double standards.
Back in December Bill even invoked a "partnership" among American royalty when he asserted that one of Hillary's priorities would be to "dispatch" him and Bush senior on around-the-world missions. It took the Bushes a while to reject this joint venture, but it refreshed their sense of entitlement as good ol' Jeb Bush and a younger generation await deployment.
Ever since the Clintons' shenanigans ended with the pardon of tax-evading billionaire Marc Rich, the couple has evolved sophisticated fleecing models. There is nothing simple about parlaying debts into a reported fortune of $109 million in five years or so.
Here is a pointer to coming attractions from the recent past.
On a trip to Kazakhstan in September 2005 with Canadian businessman Frank Guistra, Bill nailed down his credentials as a prime facilitator with dictators by enticing the country's strongman, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev, to give his new friend Guistra a fast track for a voluble contract.
In quick progression, Guistra contributed $31.3 million to Clinton's charitable foundation and pledged another $100 million more. Separately, Bill Clinton used the occasion to lavish praise, crediting the dictator for "opening up" the former Soviet state. That bit of hyperbole carries separate fees we have yet to learn about.
Similarly, from 2003 to 2006 with the current ruler of Dubai, Bill secured several "consulting" contracts plus a partnership in a company, Yucaipa, assembling Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the real estate mogul billionaire Ronald W. Burkle, and the comeback kid himself. So far that partnership has yielded Bill some $20 million in declared fees plus several million more from speeches around the region praising feudal one-man rule sheikhdoms such as the UAE, Qatar, and even Saudi Arabia as somewhat progressive societies.
With Mrs. Clinton slated for White House re-entry, Mr. Clinton says he will stop triangulating in this way. She promises to trounce special interests funding her campaign.
Many of us would rather not wait to see.
Youssef M. Ibrahim, a freelance writer and risk consultant, is a former New York Times Mideast correspondent and Energy Editor of the Wall Street Journal. Author is reachable at [email protected]