So perhaps you’ve seen this chart on Twitter or Facebook:
Sanders supporters in particular have made a rather big deal about Clinton’s speaking fees. It’s perceived that taking money from powerful interest groups will influence the policies her potential administration will push, which is a perfectly reasonable position with plenty of merit. Still, when you see a meme like this, you ought to take at least cursory glance at some of the stuff on it before you swallow its intended message whole. So just what shady groups are financing this potential President?
American Camping Association – “The American Camping Association of New York and New Jersey is a nonprofit dedicated to preserving, promoting, and enhancing the quality of the summer camp experience.”
Massachusetts Conference for Women – An annual conference that features “workshops and seminars on the issues that matter most to women, including personal finance, business and entrepreneurship, health, work/life balance and more.” Spooky!
A&E Television Networks – Yes, the television channel that largely featured biographies.
International Deli-Dairy-Bakery Association – “is a nonprofit trade association for food retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers, brokers, distributors, and other industry professionals. Our membership includes over 1,500 companies ranging from small independents to the world’s largest corporations.” Hilldawg shilling for Big Milk and French Baguette.
Then there are other obviously nefarious groups, such as the United Fresh Produce Association! Or the Cardiovascular Research Foundation! eBay!
I know Clinton has caught a lot of flak for her paid speeches to banks, but this meme wouldn’t give you much indication of that—of the companies and organizations listed here, five are banks or are involved primarily in finance and commerce, and only one (GTCR) is based in America.
So this raises the question of what exactly those who object to Clinton’s inflated speaking fees are upset about. If they think she’s greedy for taking so much money to speak for only an hour or so, I can understand the moral objection, especially for someone running for the highest office, but it’s not the most sinister thing I’ve ever seen in my life and pales in comparison to the unscrupulous things she’ll have to do as Prez. If the objection is that she’s owned by banks and Wall Street, well, this meme doesn’t do much to advance that narrative, and I doubt those who proclaim her allegiance lies with bankers would say the deli owners of the world also have equal sway over her even though they’re shelling out an equal amount of dough. Further, she obviously doesn’t need to take speech money from Wall Street to line her pockets—plenty of seemingly innocuous organizations are willing to cough up her $200,000 speaking fee.
Further, Clinton raking in millions—which maybe are being used to personally enrich herself and maybe to help fund her bid for President—strikes me as less morally bankrupt than those who leave public service and for well-paying lobbying jobs. I don’t see how what Clinton is doing is worse or even at all comparable to a crook like Henry Paulson go from being CEO of Goldman Sachs to the Secretary of the Treasury.
I get it. She’s not as pure as Sanders (we think). There are things in her past and her husband’s past which are eyebrow-raising at the least. But does anyone really think that handing over this election to the Republicans is worth it? Does anyone really think that they’re the morally superior alternative to whatever you’ll get with Clinton, even if you can be reasonably sure you’re not going to like many of the things she’s likely to do?