UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington under nine presidents and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

January 14, 2009

BUY ONE CLINTON, GET THE SECOND ONE FREE

Christopher Hitchens, Slate - It appears from the donor list of the Clinton Foundation that there is barely an oligarch, royal family, or special-interest group anywhere in the world that does not know how to get the former president's attention. Just in the days since the foundation agreed to some disclosure of its previously "confidential" clients-in other words, since this became a condition for Sen. Clinton's nomination to become secretary of state-we have found former President Clinton in warm relationships with one very questionable businessman in Malaysia and with another, this time in Nigeria, who used to have close connections with that country's ultracorrupt military dictatorship. . .

But does a contribution to Bill Clinton's foundation get you any traction with Sen. Clinton, at least in her political and official capacity? Let's see. A recent story in the New York Times managed to begin with some very crisp and clear and fact-based paragraphs:

"An upstate New York developer donated $100,000 to former President Bill Clinton's foundation in November 2004, around the same time that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton helped secure millions of dollars in federal assistance for the businessman's mall project.

"Mrs. Clinton helped enact legislation allowing the developer, Robert J. Congel, to use tax-exempt bonds to help finance the construction of the Destiny USA entertainment and shopping complex, an expansion of the Carousel Center in Syracuse.

"Mrs. Clinton also helped secure a provision in a highway bill that set aside $5 million for Destiny USA roadway construction."

Why should anyone doubt, then, that in small matters as well as in large ones, the old slogan from the 1992 election still holds true? As Bill so touchingly put it that year, if you voted for him, you got "two for one." What the country-and the world-has since learned is a slight variation on that, which I would crudely phrase as "buy one, get one free."

The deal struck by the wide-eyed incoming Obama administration is that the list of donors to the Clinton Foundation will be reviewed once every year and that only the new donations from foreign states-which already include an extraordinarily large number from Gulf sheikdoms-will be scrutinized by administration lawyers. How would we react if we read that this was the rule for the Vladimir Putin government, say, or former Chancellor Gerhard SchrOder's regime in Germany?

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