Hillary Clinton Wants You To Know She Was Down With The Stuggle
Apparently, things were tougher in Chappaqua, New York and on D.C.'s Embassy Row than we ever imagined.
Last night, Hillary Clinton essentially kicked off the book tour for her new book Hard Choices with an interview with ABC News’s Diane Sawyer. Even before the interview had aired, though, it was making news thanks to a clip released by ABC in which Clinton talks the criticism that both she and former President Clinton have received for the high-dollar speaking fees they have earned in the decade and a half since leaving the White House. In doing so, however, she made what can only be called the first gaffe of her not-yet-really-a-campaign campaign:
Hillary Clinton defended the millions of dollars she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have earned giving paid speeches since leaving public office in an exclusive interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer ahead of Tuesday’s release of her new memoir, “Hard Choices.” “We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt,” Clinton told Sawyer, referring to the hefty legal fees incurred during their White House years. “We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages, for houses, for Chelsea’s education. You know, it was not easy.” She added, “Bill has worked really hard — and it’s been amazing to me — he’s worked very hard. First of all, we had to pay off all our debts, which was, you know, he had to make double the money because of obviously taxes and then pay off the debts and get us houses and take care of family members.” Hillary Clinton’s individual speaking fees reportedly average $200,000 per appearance. “Let me put it this way,” Clinton told Sawyer. “I thought making speeches for money was a much better thing than getting connected with any one group or company as so many people who leave public life do.”
Here’s the video:
Now, it’s true that the Clinton’s had debt when leaving the White House, much of it related to the legal problems that they faced throughout Bill Clinton’s Presidency, including, of course, the long legal struggle that began when a certain intern delivered pizza to the Oval Office. However, the idea that Bill and Hillary were struggling financially comes across as nothing other than an absurd attempt by Clinton to make it seem as though she’s can relate to middle class Americans when its obvious to anyone that the Clinton family lives a life that most Americans could only dream about. Even before they left the White House, the Clinton’s had purchased their $1.7 million home in Chappaqua, New York and a $2.85 million home in Washington, D.C. In addition those speaking fees that Clinton is defending, their income included Bill’s pension as a former President which amounted to roughly $161,000 per year in 2001, Clinton’s book My Life for which he received a $12 million advance, Hillary’s own book Living History for which she received an $8 million advance, and, of course, Hillary’s salary as a United States Senator, which started out at $145.100 per year when she entered the Senate in January 2001 (source).
That may not all add up to Mitt Romney levels of income and wealth, but it’s hardly “struggling” either. Indeed, as a general rule, when you’re talking about paying f’or “houses” in the plural, it’s best not to talk about struggling, especially if you’re running for public office.
Obviously, this is hardly the most important issue that may come up regarding Hillary Clinton if she does run for President in 2016. However, it’s a fairly apt demonstration of many of the same issues that plagued her and her campaign in 2008, and which are still likely to be an issue in 2016. Unlike her husband in 1992 and throughout his Presidency and post-Presidency, and unlike Barack Obama in 2008, Clinton quite simply does not come across as relatable, empathetic, or someone who can relate to the struggles of the average American. Trying to project an image like that in such an awkward and, in the end, absurd manner is also a demonstration of the fact that Clinton is not nearly as good a campaigner as her husband was, something which makes one wonder what kind of President she’d end up being.
The whole thing comes across as contrived and phony, and completely tone deaf. You’re not struggling if you’re pulling in more than $200,00 per year before speaking fees, getting six and seven figure book advances and six figure speaking fees, all while traveling regularly in the same circles as the elite of Hollywood, New York City, and Washington, D.C. So, no, Hillary, you didn’t struggle. And it was kind of silly for you to try to pretend you did.
Hillary Clinton is in some ways more talented, and certainly more disciplined, than her husband. But she has maybe a tenth of his social skill and abilities as a politician. I just don’t see how she gets the Democratic nomination, much less elected president.
She’s “stuggling” in the same sense all those characters in the Wall Street cartoon were, so she’s relating to people who think they are middle class at least.
She gets the nomination if there’ s nobody serious to challenge her, really.
I know it’s way too early to be making judgments like this — hello President Giuliani? — but right now I’m not seeing anyone in the Democratic field that could grab the momentum the way Obama did in 2008. Brian Schweitzer is an interesting guy but I’m not sure how well a bolo tie wearing populist is going to play elsewhere in the country, for example.
Wealthy elites of any political persuasion really have no clue what struggling financially means.
Struging financially means trying to decide between buying food or paying the electric bill. Paying the gas bill or the house payment. Figuring out how far behind you can get in your mortgage before the bank talks foreclosure.
When you have assets you can tap I to and two of those assets are worth over a million dollars you don’t ever struggle financially. You just may not be able to hire the extra maid or the driver.
That’s a pretty bold statement, entirely contrary to the “conventional wisdom.”
Absent Hillary, who do you think gets the nod?
“Hillary Clinton is in some ways more talented, and certainly more disciplined, than her husband. But she has maybe a tenth of his social skill and abilities as a politician.”
I think this is a generally correct assessment. I suspect that, had Bill never been elected President, she would likely have received a cabinet position in another Democratic administration.
“I just don’t see how she gets the Democratic nomination, much less elected president.”
I think if she loses the air of inevitability, she is toast. I don’t see who will puncture it, though.
Doug found a both sides do it! Remember Mitt’s story that once during his student years they were so poor they had to sell some stock?
She reminds me of Romney in a lot of ways. Tone deaf, prone to transparent faux populism, so insanely privileged that she doesn’t even realize it, and she is the presumptive nominee whose “turn” it is, that no one is all that excited about.
Between that and her voting record, I don’t know a single liberal that is looking forward to voting for her. If she is the nominee, the “enthusiasm gap” will be the size of the Grand Canyon.
You should have gone with the face-palm image.
Tone deaf…you betcha!!!
I’d be fine with a Constitutional Amendment that keeps both the Clintons and the Bush’s out of the White House.
I am. My policy in the primary has always been to vote for the most electable Democrat. That looks to be Hillary. In the general I’ll enthusiastically vote for any Democrat. The Republican Party has gone so far off the cliff that we’re literally staving off disaster by electing a Dem, any Dem. This is not a time to quibble over purity.
I’m looking forward to voting for her -if the alternative is President Ted Cruz or President Rick Santorum. Let’s remember that ther competition isn’t Jesus or FDR- it’s whoever is left standing after the Republican nomination circus is over.
I think this is very early, it’s not much of a gaffe, and it most likely will be forgotten after we hear Santorum’s views on reproducive rights(“Those girls need to understand the beauty of virginity!”)or Rand Paul’s views on whether the poor should have access to health care (“I pray they don’t get sick!”).
To a certain type of conservative white man, no.
But try talking to a woman sometimes. You’ll be surprised at how relatable and empathetic they find Hillary Clinton.
Shorter Doug: “It only counts as a struggle if it’s something I’ve gone through!”
I’m so adopting this as a new euphemism.
@Mikey: @Moosebreath: Elizabeth Warren would be quite formidable, I think. She’s a genuine progressive without being a loony toon. And, while he’s failed many times already, I think people far underestimate Joe Biden. He’s a bit of a loose cannon but he’s smart, much more accomplished than HRC, and a genuinely decent and relatable human being.
From the same interview, but not in the post above, re Benghazi:
Watching her and a Republican House and Senate square off might be fun.
It’s not a matter of “purity”. She is abominably bad in the issues I care about most deeply.
Let’s just compare her to Ted Cruz, who thinks that the uninunsured should simply die in the streets if they need health care.There’s gaffes and there are serious policy differences. Hullabaloo says this about McAuliffe, but it applies just as much about Clinton:
I’m not sure I’d call it a gaffe unless I was a Republican who can’t stand what his party has become and yet cannot admit it and still insist on carrying their water.
Tone deaf…yes….no doubt about it.
But the substance of what she said is accurate…they were in debt…and better to capitalize on speaker fees than the deep pockets of the Koch Brothers who have bought and paid for the Republican Party…including the Republican Justices on the SCOTUS.
If you’re earning $250,000 a year and buying two multi-million dollar homes you are, by definition, not struggling.
@Ben: Which issues? And what Republican would be better? No snark, curiosity.
Well, we can’t have one of those in the White House.
Completely agree with all of the above. She’s an incredibly smart and disciplined woman. However, to put it in D&D terms, Bill ended up with 18+ Charisma. Hillary’s score is much closer to the rest of we mortals.
Frankly, here’s where I think your blinders come in. While she is by no means the most charismatic candidate out there, I don’t think there’s anyone on the horizon on either the Democratic or Republican side whose personal charisma blows her out of the water.
Christie might have had a shot at it, but we have yet to see if he will be able to make a successful run now that the bloom is off the rose for the moment.
Further, put her up against the last two candidates: McCain and Romney, and I have a hard time seeing how either of them would have beaten her either.
“Elizabeth Warren would be quite formidable, I think. She’s a genuine progressive without being a loony toon.”
I am not convinced. She already has the reputation of being on the left end of what can be elected as a Democrat in Massachusetts, and I suspect that will play poorly nationally.
“And, while he’s failed many times already, I think people far underestimate Joe Biden. He’s a bit of a loose cannon but he’s smart, much more accomplished than HRC, and a genuinely decent and relatable human being.”
I think he is too old, and too much of a loose cannon.
I think there’s room for a Democratic challenger, just not the ones you mention. Martin O’Malley, Tim Kaine, John Hickenlooper and Bob Casey, Jr. seem to be better placed, but I have not heard any of them except O’Malley is even thinking of running.
I think both Warren and Biden have hinted that they will stand aside if Hillary runs. Make no mistake, I would prefer another candidate( My dark horse is Martin O’Malley) but my overwhelming goal is that any a Democrat-ANY Democrat-becomes Presedent in 2016. Its also clear to me and other Democrats is that it’s not enough just to put a Democrat in the White House-but that Democrat must have coattails that will swwep in majorities in the House and Senate. IOW, we have to really crush the Republicans.
I don’t see anyone but HRC likely to do that, and even that might be a long shot.
I think too that if the Republicans take the Senate, and we get two more years of Senate hearings on BENGHAZI! and 50 more Senate votes to “repeal Obamacare”, you will see the Democrats unite even more behind HRC.
Good point about Biden.
As for Warren, I totally agree about her smarts and her background. I don’t have a strong handle on her actual campaigning skills. If she’s closer on the spectrum to Bill, then she could pose a major problem for Hillary.
Well, war/interventionism is one, she’s a freaking hawk. Rand is much better than her there.
And she voted for the Homeland Security Act AND the reauth of the Patriot Act, so she’s not exactly a shining beacon in surveillance/law enforcement areas, either. Rand is miles better than her on those issues, too. And on the Drug war as well.
Now, I’m not saying I like Rand Paul. His economic policies are terrifying. But if you seriously think that NO republican can be better than ANY democrat on ANY issue, then it’s hard to have an honest discussion
This is also true of every other politician on the national stage. No one — no one — has the charisma and social skills of a Bill Clinton.
She lost me when she voted for cloture on bankruptcy reform (the awful BARF bill). OTOH an old yellow dog would be better than anyone the GOP puts forth. She’ll get my full throated support if she takes the nomination.
Oh my god, and then, recently, Anne and Mitt they had to find a qualified and competent contractor to install the car-elevator at their new La Jolla home. It’s tough out there for people with over $100M in wealth and assets.
Er, that’s not the question. The question is whether any Democrat would be better than any Republican for serving as President of the United States. If you are any kind of liberal, there can be only one answer to THAT.
As to Hillary’s hawkishness, I’ll take her over almost rumored any Republican candidate. I also think its likely that Rand Paul will morph into a typical Republican hawk should he run for President.
Again, there aren’t any perfect candidates out there. We have 2000 as an example of what happens when some liberals decide to go the purity route.
Umm, excuse me, that was exactly the question I was asked. I said that Hillary was horrible on the issues I care about, and gVOR08 asked me what the issues were and if there were any Republicans better than her on those issues.
Once again, I object to the accusation of purity. Like anyone, I have a set of issues that I care about more than any others, and those are the issues that I lean on when deciding what candidate I will support. I never said that anyone has to agree with me on what the most important issues are. We all make that decision for ourselves. I’m simply saying that, for me, Hillary does not respresent my views on the issues important to me, and I do not plan on voting for her in either the primary or the general. I very well may end up abstaining completely for president, or voting third party if there’s a candidate who is closer to my views.
Oh, and by the way, telling me that “if I am any kind of liberal” I will agree with you, is a pretty BS method of argument. No one appointed you as any sort of authority for deciding who is a liberal and who isn’t. I could turn that right back around on you and argue that I find it laughable that any kind of liberal would be ok voting for a law-and-order, pro-surveillance war hawk.
I don’t live in a swing state. The Democrat will win by 15-20%. I am free to vote however I wish to express my opinions and support the interests I care about.
@Just Me and Doug:
I dont consider either Clinton to be an “elite” in the sense that they both came from middle class backgrounds at best. They got where they are through talent and drive, and comparisons to Mitt Romney are not apt. If you mean “elite” in the sense that they became educated, powerful and wealthy, I guess os. But then, so is almost every Senator, including Warren.
And “struggling” can certainly mean coming out of office with $12M in legal bills, and no handy Halliburton gig to run to.They got money because people wanted their books, and wanted them to speak.
Were they struggling by the time they bought their houses?Nope. But then, that’s not what she said is it?
BTW, while she’s not on Bill’s level, she has achieved a sort of charisma. The photos of her in shades with her blackberry?
This post is similar to the one Doug posted about Hillary and Benghazi recently…I guess we should expect regular posts from him criticizing her between now and November of 2016, especially as it looks more and more likely that she might be unstoppable…the CDS that will be on display when she gets elected president will be a thing to behold…
@An Interested Party: This line of “argument” is long past tiresome. Doug is commenting here on a report from “Good Morning America,” not “Fox & Friends” or the Drudge Report. And the notion that a woman who has become a multi-millionaire off her husband’s fame comes across as “contrived and phony” when she pretends to have “struggled” making ends meet coming out of the frickin’ White House is hardly a stretch.
“Doug is commenting here on a report from “Good Morning America,” not “Fox & Friends” or the Drudge Report.”
Regardless of the source, the title to this post drips of sarcastic loathing, as does Doug’s peevish responses to anyone challenging him in the other comment section. Simply put, Hillary puts Doug way off his game.
Any Democrat, really. When was the last time this so called independent praised ANY Democrat. He’s certainly doesn’t vote for any Democrat, so….
That said, I understand why Doug criticized her for claiming she was struggling financially, and I’m glad she said this now and not in 2016. I expect her never to repeat this.
The question is whether Hillary has the temperament to withstand the conservative CDS crew. There will be some Democratic Party attacking (guys like Brien Schweitzer) , but nothing like what conservatives will do if she’s nominated. But, that’s what a political campaign does – it reveals the strengths and weaknesses of all candidates.
As a recent example, the 2012 GOP campaign was a death march, and it served a valuable public purpose – it revealed most of the major candidates who stayed on – Bachmann, Santorum, Cain, Perry, Gingrich – to be dysfunctional and unappealing.
If it wasn’t for the “First Woman President” factor, I’d guess that the public is sick and tired of the Bush and Clinton stuff. However, that factor will certainly energize the Democratic base as much as it will the CDS types. In fact, I look forward to the meltdown as the Birther and ODS crew transitions to full on “Billary” mode.
The lack of excitement among the professional campaign set for Hillary is kind of amazing, literally no one I know who works Democratic campaigns is excited for her rather the general attitude is grim acceptance and a hope that Senate and House jobs are palatable alternatives.
Sarcasm directed toward a comment from a woman who was at the very least in the upper middle class financially that she “struggled”? Of course it’s sarcastic, because her comment is absurd and deserves to be treated as such. Even someone obviously of the left like Mika Brezinski sees that.
The lack of comment on your peevishness in the other thread is duly noted.
And of course, I noted the sarcasm myself. It’s just so rarely used when you are commenting on silly things said by people on the right side of the aisle. For those, you express surprise that anyone could possibly think like that (even when they are the positions held by the vast majority of Republicans while you remain blissfully oblivious that libertarians are rounding errors in the Republican Party).
Lets face it the Dems have no interest in slashing defense spending, enacting real banking/finance reform, taking a hard look at the disastrous free trade treaties which have destroyed manufacturing and the middle class, taking on pharma/health insurers, restructuring the insane higher education tuition bubble, scaling back the intelligence surveilance/Patriot Act apparatus.
Its a joke that anyone thinks Hillary will do anything to rock the boat of the last 20 years of Dem campaign contributers.
The Dems have become a party whose top priorities are gay/transgender equality, sanctuary cities for illegals and unlimited abortion till the 9th month. Its too bad they couldn’t have given 1/1000th the effort to argue for a single payer system that they gave to ramming mandatory contraceptive coverage into the ACA.
And to anyone who would challenge my liberal bona fides, I have not, nor will I ever vote GOP, however, that does not mean that I will waste my vote on Hillary.
Does anyone get the feeling that Hillary tries to say what Bill tells her to say, but it just comes off so unnatural, forced and inauthentic? Just read her fractured syntax when answering the above question of “struggle”. Such tortured grammar from such a highly educated woman is a manifestation of her inabllity to relate to the whole idea of economic struggle.
Its the painful equivalent of Mitt singing “who let the dogs out who? who?…well it wasn’t me haha” or Ted Kennedy’s horrible response to Roger Mudd as to why he wanted to be President.
The Dems are really the GOP of 1982.
I think it’s probably worth noting that the “I will walk on hot coals and broken glass to make sure a Republican isn’t elected” contingent is predominant on the left side of the aisle. I don’t think it really matters much who the Dems nominate if the nominee is within the relatively wide parameters of the Democratic mainstream. I expect the GOP nomination battle to be much more contentious.
I’ve long held that the presidential nomination process is one of avoiding disqualifiers. The last man, or woman, standing is almost always the winner. I don’t see any obvious disqualifiers for Hillary, while I do see the name recognition, fundraising, institutional party support and potentially historic significance of a HRC presidency. She’s not my favorite due to her relative hawkishness, but I don’t see many impediments to her nomination and election at this point.
@the Q: “And to anyone who would challenge my liberal bona fides, I have not, nor will I ever vote GOP, however, that does not mean that I will waste my vote on Hillary”
Aww, it’s sweet the way you’re so pure. Why don’t you go explain that the the familes of thousands of American soldiers and hundreds of thousand of Iraqi civillians who died horribly because people just as pure as you knew there was no difference between Bush and Gore and proved their purity by voting for Nader.
Alternatively you could blame all those people who voted for Gore instead of Nader … seriously, the whole point of elections is to vote for who you think is best. You could argue that the people who voted for Bush bear some responsibility for what he did. Arguing that people who didn’t vote for him are responsible is a bit loopy.
Well of course…it’s not like she achieved anything on her own…everything she has she owes to her husband…the Republicans should run on that argument in 2016…I’m sure it will do wonders with female voters…
Considering how the President is deliriously painted as a “socialist” and “leftist” by his political enemies, I’m not quite sure how you think a real liberal that you would approve of could ever have a chance of winning any national election…face it, what you want can’t be achieved in this country…Canada, perhaps, France, maybe, but not here…
Of course, she didn’t say they were struggling. And she wasn’t trying to relate to normal Americans by comparing her experience to theirs. She was asked a question about what she and her husband did for money after they left the White House. The answer: they cashed in on their fame. There’s no hiding of that either. And she shouldn’t.
Clinton’s ace may be the fact that a bunch of frumpy white men are going to go through normal answers to normal questions and come up with odd interpretations over them. That these same people would be in awe over the authenticity of Chris Christie if he stood a chance and were no doubt charmed like the devil by George W. Bush should point to flaws in their analyses.
We may hit a likeability truther level, where bitchy white men are certain that Hillary Clinton is about to tank and that the polls are just a lie. After all, they find her intolerable!
Why don’t you go and explain to all of those families why Hillary voted to send the troops there while you’re at it? See how that argument works?
@Ben: Hillary was wrong to vote that way. If Gore had been president, I’m pretty sure she never would have had the opportunity.
And if you can’t differentiate between levels of responsibility in starting that war, you are either a moral idiot or some other kind.
Why does political discussion so often sound like (slightly less nuanced) team sport arguments?
@Ben: I asked, and I appreciate the honest answer. I agree with your concerns about hawkishness. Paul’s positions on war and one or two other things are closer to mine. However, you have to find a real Republican outlier for that to be true, and I regard it as a stopped clock situation. She’s also way too cozy with Wall Street for my taste.
@Doug Mataconis: What a genuinely stupid statement. If your are making $250K with $12 million in debt, that could be a struggle. That a former President could get credit to buy expensive homes, with his tremendous income potential, is not a surprise.
Personally I’m glad they paid off their debts without selling their souls to the Kochs.
I think the biggest advantage someone like Elizabeth Warren has is that most people haven’t already made up their mind about her. With Hillary Clinton, so long as she runs against someone reasonable (think “John Huntsman”), you could pretty much call the election right now.
There just aren’t that many “undecideds” when it comes to HRC.
Her biggest advantage is that she can appeal to the moderates (sorry, Bill isn’t really much of an advantage here); that’s something that someone like Ms. Warren would have trouble with.
I don’t buy that — I’m not convinced that campaigning is the way to determine who would be the best president. Sure, it helps show who’s the best politician — but that’s not the same thing.