So here we are, about two months from the day of reckoning. Will voters send Donald Trump back to the bizarre gilded trailer park that spawned him, or will Hillary Clinton be faced with completing her life’s work at the foundation bearing her name? Most polls continue to show Clinton in the lead, notably in swing states that would provide her with the decisive advantage in the electoral college, but she’s a long way from home.
The race continues to be, in a word, odd. The most qualified presidential candidate in modern history is struggling to put away a psychopathic carnival barker. Americans apparently still don’t feel they can trust Hillary. Why? Well, Benghazi. Blah-blah-blah. Led to nothing. Those emails. Blah-blah-blah. Led to nothing. Remember Whitewater? Blah-blah-blah. Led to nothing. Well then, Vince Foster, Troopergate, Watergate Committee, Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky! Blah-blah-blah-blah. Led…to…nothing.
Hillary Clinton has spent more than 40 years in public life and a sizable percentage of Americans are still DEAD CERTAIN she’s corrupt – that it’s just a matter of time until something sticks, despite the fact that nothing has. With the Clinton Foundation the naysayers seem to have one last bite at the apple, so let’s take a look at it.
The foundation’s mission is to “convene businesses, governments, NGOs, and individuals to improve global health and wellness, increase opportunity for girls and women, reduce childhood obesity, create economic opportunity and growth, and help communities address the effects of climate change.” It looks like critically important work. A recent piece in Forbes discussed some of the foundation’s accomplishments:
- Raised $313 million for R&D into new vaccines and medicines.
- Helped provide better maternal and child survival care to more than 110 million people.
- Provided treatment for more than 36 million people with tropical diseases.
- Helped persuade the infant and maternal health group Embrace Innovations to bring its innovative Embrace infant warmer (which doesn’t require a fixed electricity source) to 100,000 babies in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
- Helped persuade the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) and a host of other partners pledged to build up a world-class cancer diagnostic and treatment system in sub-Saharan Africa and Haiti.
- Collaborated with the American Heart Association to help provide access to healthier meals across more than 31,000 American schools and boosted physical education, the availability of nutritious meals, and extracurricular exercise in poor communities with high obesity rates.
- Helped negotiate HIV/AIDS therapy price cuts as high as 90%, ensuring access to these treatments for more than 11.5 million people across more than 70 countries.
The Forbes piece goes on to report that the Clinton Foundation is considered a top-tier institution in the philanthropic world. Hard to find fault in all that, eh?
But of course, Hillary’s well-organized opposition doesn’t see it that way and, as usual, is working with its allies in the media, declared and otherwise, to muck things up. For example the Associated Press, which falls in the “otherwise” category. It might surprise you to find the gray, boring old AP thrashing in these waters, but there it was with a story last month purporting to to demonstrate that Clinton, as secretary of state, spent a disproportionately large amount of her time with foundation donors. However, as Vox pointed out in a follow-up piece, she really didn’t. AP cited 154 people Clinton met with – out of more than a thousand official meetings with foreign officials and an unknown number of additional meetings with domestic officials. It appears the AP cherrypicked from the data to create a story to match its hypothesis. Yes, the media does that.
The takeaways from the AP story may fail to recognize a fundamental truth in human nature and American politics – donors enjoy increased visibility with their beneficiaries, and the degree often corresponds with the size of the donation. It doesn’t seem to matter if you donate to the American Cancer Society, your local PBS station, or a political candidate; donations get you involved and can bring you the attention of the people at the top. The question being asked about the Clinton Foundation, of course, is whether or not donors received favorable treatment at Hillary’s State Department that would amount to conflict of interest. It seems not. Vox points out that AP “found so little unethical conduct that an enormous amount of space is taken up by a detailed recounting of the time Clinton tried to help a former Nobel Peace Prize winner who’s also the recipient of a Congressional Gold Medal and a Presidential Medal of Freedom.” Is there anybody on Earth who wouldn’t spend time to help a person like that?
During the George W. Bush administration, a man named Richard W. Painter served as the chief White House ethics lawyer. He recently wrote in the New York Times that, “There is little if any evidence that federal ethics laws were broken by Mrs. Clinton or anyone working for her at the State Department in their dealings with the foundation.” Painter goes on to note the challenges with perception the Clintons will continue to face–not to mention the ongoing Trump smear campaign–and suggests that, “The family should promise now that if Hillary is elected president, all of the Clinton family members will step down from all positions with the foundation and they will not return.” That’s actually a really good idea. The foundation’s work is well underway – the Clintons’ legacy firmly-established. It would be a masterstroke to make that pledge.
However, an unfortunate feature of Clintonland is Hillary and Bill’s unwillingness to take those types of steps. It still hasn’t occurred with the email matter and and it probably won’t here. It’s frustrating as hell and leverages the issues in question to become gifts that keep on giving to the clown car rally across the aisle.
So what does all this mean? Well, in my mind, the media, in its zeal for alleged ‘balance,’ continues to buy into the fallacy of false equivalence in its coverage of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and it’s hurting the woman who should be president and, by extension, threatening the stability of our country and the world. Yes, the media should examine the Clinton Foundation for signs of conflict. But it should not imply they exist when they don’t. Leave that to Donald Trump and his surrogates.