What “Clinton cash” tells us about Hillary’s relationship with Bill

Liberal pundit Jonathan Chait concludes from the emerging “Clinton cash” scandal that, at a minimum, the Clintons have been “disorganized and greedy.” Of the greed, there can be no doubt. But whether the Clintons have been disorganized depends on what they were trying, primarily, to accomplish through their Foundation.

From Bill Clinton’s perspective, I gather, the Foundation was intended to raise huge amounts of money and to serve as a vehicle through which he would remain an important international player. Clinton plainly wanted an enormously lucrative and conspicuously consequential post-presidency. The Clinton Foundation would enable him to meet these aspirations.

And so it has. From Bill’s perspective, then, the Clinton Foundation is a raging success, brilliantly conceived and executed, and sufficiently well-organized to achieve its purposes.

This point appears to be lost on Chait. He says, with surprise, that “Bill Clinton seemed to see the nexus between his role and his wife’s as a positive rather than a negative.”

Well, yeah. Having Hillary running the State Department clearly maximized the Foundation’s ability to raise huge amounts of money and to project Bill into major deals all over the world.

As one Clintonista told Ryan Lizza, “Bill Clinton’s been able to continue to be the Bill Clinton we know, in large part because of his relationship with the White House and because his wife is the Secretary of State; it worked out very well for him.”

But how has it worked out for Hillary Clinton? We don’t know yet. Surely, she is delighted to see her family massively enriched through the Foundation. And while a part of her may not love seeing her husband flying so high, it’s unlikely that she begrudges him a place on the world stage.

Her primary mission, though, is to become president of the United States. It remains to be seen whether the “Clinton cash” scandal will derail her quest. But she must believe that it has created more risk of derailment than is worth the incremental income Bill’s more aggressive plays has accrued. The scandal probably seem to her, as it does to Chait, like an unforced error — one that, left to her own devices, she would have avoided.

In sum, the Foundation has operated the way Bill wanted it to, but probably not quite as Hillary, with her focus on the presidency, wished.

If so, this tells us that Bill Clinton remains the dominant force in the family. When their interests diverged, Bill’s carried the day.

Lizza’s reporting tends to confirm that this was the case. He writes:

More than anyone, [Bill] pushed Hillary to take the job of Secretary of State. “President Clinton was a big supporter of the idea,” an intimate of the Clintons told me. “He advocated very strongly for it and arguably was the tie-breaking reason she took the job.”

The husband’s pushy advocacy was the “tie-breaking” reason why the wife made the momentous decision to take an all-consuming job? In which version of feminism are things supposed to work like this?

I hope America’s first female president will be a woman who is not under the sway of her husband and who would not permit the family enterprise to be commandeered by a husband notorious for having no sense of proportion or propriety. Hillary Clinton is not that woman.


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