Both Bill and Hillary seem to believe everything is better off in their hands. The last few decades have shown us this is not always the case.
There are tons of claims flung by the right at the Clintons that are unsubstantiated nonsense, and brazen exaggerations (ie. body doubles, vascular dementia, Chelsea’s parentage, Vince Foster, Ron Brown et.al.) Other GOP-led charges (Benghazi, private email server) have a certain level of validity but they too have been undeservedly amplified to a degree. However, the Clinton’s do deserve some criticism for the way they tend to approach their dealings in general. There’s an overarching arrogance to the way they have conducted business over the last decade or so.
Many believe that the Clintons are a power hungry, disconnected duo—that they don’t really care or feel for the plight of the everyday American. I don’t think that’s it at all. I think the Clintons, by-in-large, attempt to do good in the world. And in many instances, they have succeeded. If you view their movements on a macro level, their ultimate net goal is to help people; to use their influence as a positive force. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way, and many of their failures can be directly attributed to the self-sustaining notion that, they know best. If you trust them, things will work out.
Take Haiti for example. After the 2010 earthquake, the Clintons (Hillary as Secretary of State and Bill in a myriad of positions) were very active in the aid and rebuilding efforts in the region. In the beginning, before news reached of the aid efforts hindering as much, if not more than they were helping, it seemed as if everything was going swimmingly. We, the massive bringers of peace, prosperity and capitalism once again swept in to save the day. But our efforts were never in line with the efforts of the Haitian people. As Jonathan M. Katz reported in numerous, stunning pieces, we asserted ourselves upon Haiti. Those in charge didn’t listen and didn’t adjust.
There was little to no pliability. We knew what it was going to take to rebuild Haiti and we weren’t going to let those pesky Haitians tell us different. As Katz reported, we didn’t hire Haitian contractors, we gave the contracts to U.S. firms. A move that was disastrous. When things began to turn sour, the solution of the Clintons was not to adjust or perhaps step back a bit, it was to remain heavily involved and essentially double-down their influence. But the problem wasn’t that they weren’t doing enough, it was that they were doing too much. And they were doing it wrong. They built massive garment factories in order to bring in investments from U.S. corporations. Deals were made. The goal was to simultaneously bolster the Haitian job market and spread U.S. influence. As of yet, it hasn’t done either.
Now this father/mother-knows-best approach is definitely not exclusive to the Clintons (it’s as American as obesity.) But it is indicative of how they see things. Sometimes they suffer from tunnel vision. They become entirely too inflexible and are unable to see that a certain trajectory could be problematic.
It’s less about transparency than it is about rigidity.
The Clintons have been in the spotlight since the early 90s and have survived the most infamous public scandal in modern times. Making it through an ordeal of that magnitude undoubtedly has an effect on one’s relationship with the public henceforth. So the lack of transparency is understandable—albeit frustrating.
But the Clintons put their supporters in precarious positions. When you’re a Clinton supporter it’s all about having a strong defense. Hillary has given paid speeches to Wall St. while simultaneously claiming to be a Warren-level regulationist. Bill gave numerous speeches to foreign governments and companies while Hillary was Secretary of State. The Clinton Foundation, for all of the incredible work it has done, has had a series of potentially shady dealings with foreign governments. Then there’s the emails that were deleted and the whole mess that followed. None of this was done out of carelessness.
Bill and Hillary seem to expect that the public will trust them. But when you pair this unique brand of arrogance with a brazen lack of transparency, it does not instill confidence. The Clinton’s motto seems to be: Don’t worry about it; we got this.
This is who they are.
They are benevolent egotists—technocratic saviors.
They are hyper-intelligent, wildly powerful people who believe that they are best suited to run the show. Over the years, they have shown a steadfast disregard for optics within certain realms—and the corresponding conversation around them. None of this asserts that the Clintons have done anything blatantly illegal or that they haven’t had numerous successful ventures, or, really, that Hillary Clinton will not be a successful and entirely competent president. After all, her political persona and approach was forged in the very same cauldron she may find herself stirring in a few weeks. And arrogance is not among the worst qualities a world-leader can have. In fact, a few daily tablespoons of it are vital in surviving the gig. Too much arrogance, however, is never a good thing.
In a way, the Clintons are like Kobe Bryant.
Kobe always thought the Lakers best chance to score was when he had the ball. And thus, he had the ball—a lot. And he shot—a lot. Kobe was able to win five NBA championships, which nobody can take away from him. But one can’t help but think of how the Lakers would’ve fared over the last five years if Kobe would’ve taken a pay cut to better the team, and spread the ball around a bit. And even more so, if Kobe could’ve found a way to make it work with Shaq.
A bit less ego and an already impressive three-peat could’ve been a dynasty on par with the Showtime Lakers of the 80s.
But, I suppose, shooters shoot.
by Jesse Mechanic
Jesse Mechanic is the editor in chief of The Overgrown.