Belmont Club

Don't be shy

The Associated Press reports that former President Bill Clinton — to whom Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is married, received millions of dollars from foreign sources.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Bill Clinton earned nearly $6 million in speaking fees last year, almost all of it from foreign companies, according to financial documents filed by his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The documents obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press show that $4.6 million of the former president’s reported $5.7 million in 2008 honoraria came from foreign sources, including Kuwait’s national bank, other firms and groups in Canada, Germany, India, Malaysia, Mexico and Portugal and a Hong Kong-based company that spent $100,000 on federal lobbying last year.

Executives at many of the firms that paid honoraria to Bill Clinton have also donated large amounts of money to the Clinton Foundation, according to documents it released last year as part of an agreement with Congress on Hillary Clinton’s nomination as secretary of state. That agreement was aimed at preventing the appearance of any conflict of interest between the ex-president’s charitable organization and his wife’s new job as the United States’ top diplomat.

This alarming circumstance will receive little or no attention. A kind of numbness or apathy amounting to an almost fatalistic acceptance of whatever comes has, for reasons future historians can explain, descended on the body politic.  Fantastic pork barrel packages decked out as economic rescue packages.  Unspecified diplomatic initiatives with rogue nations, unilateral suspensions of missile defense and ASAT technology, in the name of peace. It’s all happening quick and fast. If Bill Clinton has received some money from Hong Kong, who cares? It’s all legal under an agreement “aimed at preventing the appearance of any conflict of interest between the ex-president’s charitable organization and his wife’s new job as the United States’ top diplomat.”

I think we could save ourselves a whole of lot of trouble and money by declaring up front: appearances don’t matter any more. We understand. Come out of the closet. Just do it.