[In the opening scene of The Godfather Don Corleone is receiving people at his daughter’s wedding. One of the supplicants is a local merchant who is asking Don Corleone to avenge the honor of his daughter. Don Corleone listens to the request and is dismissive of his ability to do anything for the merchant. Instead Don Corleone speaks of friendship and honor and familial fealty. And finally, when the merchant acknowledges Don Corleone as the Godfather and pledges fealty by kissing his ring, Don Corleone responds by telling the merchant that there may come a time in the future where the Don requires a favor and that he expects the favor to be granted without question or reservation. The merchant nods in understanding.]
President Bill Clinton (D) was a lifetime politician. He never worked in the private sector prior to or after his presidency. Democrat Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (D) was fired from her first job with the Watergate Committee and moved to Little Rock, Arkansas to live with and subsequently marry Bill Clinton. She was hired by Arkansas’ most politically influential law firm (The Rose Law Firm) shortly after Mr. Clinton was elected Arkansas Attorney General and was made a partner in the firm shortly after Mr. Clinton was elected governor. There is no evidence that she was a skilled lawyer in any of the fields of law and her expertise seemed that of a “conduit” for people and businesses seeking access to and/or favors from Arkansas state government. In other words she had no significant experience in business. (Well except for the Whitewater land investment debacle in which the Clintons’ business partners James McDougal was imprisoned for fraud and his wife Susan for refusing to testify regarding the Clintons involvement in the scandal.)
All of this is simply a prelude to what follows.
According to Democrat presidential primary candidate Hillary Clinton, when she and her husband President Bill Clinton (D) left the White House they were flat broke. In fact, they may have been more than flat broke because it was estimated by CBS News that they had substantial legal bills arising out of the scandals that surrounded them during their White House years:
“They reported owing $1.7 million to $6.5 million at the end of 2002, and between $500,000 and $1 million to a New York law firm by the end of 2003. A year later, all of those debts have been paid.”
Of course, within a very short time the Clintons bought not one but two houses – actually McMansions. The first one (Chappaqua) in Westchester County, New York – for purposes of establishing residency for Ms. Clinton’s selection as United States Senator from New York – cost an estimated $1.7 Million and was thereafter substantially remodeled at taxpayer expense. The second house is on Washington, D.C.’s Embassy Row and cost approximately $2.85 Million (now valued at $5.6 Million) and was substantially remodeled at taxpayer expense. (The taxpayer expense generously comes from the Clinton being accorded Secret Service protection.) Those two acquisitions would suggest that they increased their indebtedness by another $4.5 Million.
But by the spring of 2015, the Clintons had a combined net worth of over $110 Million according to MoneyNation magazine. All of that acquired in the space of approximately 14 years by a couple whose public employee income (his as a retired president, hers as either a United States Senator or Secretary of State) combined never equaled more than $400,000 per year – and that was only during the years Ms. Clinton served as Secretary of State.
Virtually all of their wealth comes from public speaking engagements by both of the Clintons. According to a February, 2016, CNN report by Peter Yoon:
“Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, combined to earn more than $153 million in paid speeches from 2001 until Hillary Clinton launched her presidential campaign last spring, a CNN analysis shows.”
Those included such excesses as a $675,000 payment by Wall Street trader Goldman-Sachs to Ms. Clinton for giving the same speech three times, and fees in excess of $300,000 each by Cisco and Qualcomm. It also includes a $725,000 payment to Mr. Clinton by the ThisDay Newspaper Group. Mr. Clinton’s earnings from speeches accelerated during the period of time when Ms. Clinton was Secretary of State.
Other major political figures have earned money on the speakers’ circuit after their political careers but none to the extent of Mr. and Ms. Clinton, and none while revving up a campaign for further public office. Most of the speeches by retired public figures follow the books they have written and are in the nature of reminiscences of their career – there may even be insights as to other political leaders with whom they dealt and who may or may not be currently in office.
Neither Mr. or Ms. Clinton has the background or experience to provide the large enterprises to whom they spoke with any information that would assist those enterprises in expansion, consolidation, cost-cutting, product introduction, marketing, or, in fact, anything connected to their businesses. They know nothing about organizational strength, budgeting, revenue growth, profits, opening and growing markets, or anything needed by such enterprises to maintain shareholder value over time. (The same can be said of their daughter, Chelsea, who was paid a whopping $600,000 by broadcaster NBC for – well, nothing.) In fact, the only thing they know is how to spend other people’s money (taxpayer money) on their great ideas without accountability for progress or success.
In contrast one of the most accomplished business leaders in the last fifty years is Jack Welch who commands a mere $150,000 to lecture on strategies, management techniques, and executive skills that actually worked in helping him grow General Electric from a $13 Billion enterprise to a $400 Billion world class economic engine. Likewise, Sir Richard Branson, head of Virgin Group that grew from nothing to a multinational, multibillion dollar enterprise, garners a mere $100,000 for sharing his strategies, techniques and executive skills.
So just what is it that Mr. and Ms. Clinton could provide? Political influence. That’s it. Political influence for access in the beginning, and favorable government treatment in the end. The former is pernicious but legal, the latter is venal and illegal albeit nearly impossible to prove. You see for a successful prosecution for bribery there must be proof of a specific payment for a specific act and that seldom occurs in politics with the exception of those who are really stupid – and stupid the Clintons are not.
Like the scene from The Godfather described above there is one amorphous favor (money for speeches, money for the Clinton Foundation, etc.) given for another amorphous favor to be returned in the future. In the end, it is not wisdom, advice, or experience for which the Clintons are paid. It is for governmental favors done, or to be done by them, none of which can be directly tied to a specific payment, but all can be tied to a relationship.
Which in the end is what Don Corleone required of the merchant.