I listened to Hillary Clinton’s “victory” speech this afternoon, and was reminded once more of what an awful candidate she is. I can’t be the only one who would rather get a root canal than listen to that voice. But what most struck me was a line that has become Hillary’s staple on the stump: “No bank can be too big to fail, no executive too powerful to jail!” (She used to say “no individual too powerful to jail,” until many pointed out that the individual in question is likely her.)
She said it gleefully, like she couldn’t wait to lock the door and throw away the key. The crowd cheered as though they knew what she meant, but I had no idea. The first part, about banks, makes no sense: Hillary supports Dodd-Frank, which institutionalized too big to fail on behalf of the Democratic Party and its Wall Street base. But what about the next line? The “executives” who should be jailed are evidently in the banking industry, but who are they?
Hillary’s mantra is unintelligible unless it means that certain banking executives were responsible for the financial crisis of 2008–not just responsible, but criminally culpable. The Obama administration didn’t think so; they indicted no one. I think they were right, but Hillary apparently disagrees with the president she served as a cabinet officer. So who, exactly, are the banking executives that the Obama administration should have indicted, but didn’t? Does Hillary have a list? If so, let’s see it.
This strikes me as an important test of Hillary’s judgment, if you take her stump speech seriously. Who, exactly, are the people who she thinks should be in jail? Inquiring minds want to know! Are some of them her donors? Given her donor base, that seems likely. And why, exactly, does she disagree with the president she served? Does she have some evidence that was not available to Obama’s Department of Justice?
Maybe those are stupid questions. Maybe everyone except me knows that Hillary means nothing that she says, and her purported enthusiasm for jailing banking executives is just another wink-and-nod fraud. Still, it is a striking phenomenon. If you listen to the Republican candidates, they aren’t talking about imprisoning anyone. Hillary’s theme is a crazed sort of populism that I don’t believe even the early FDR attempted.
I guess it’s a sign of the times. If Democrats can seriously consider nominating a socialist, it isn’t a great stretch for them to welcome a candidate with an undisclosed imprisonment list. But it is unprecedented, as far as I know, in American history.