Let's Get Real

The Clintons made $109million since the year 2000. Good for them. The biggest amount came from Bill's public speaking that netted over $50million. One of the ways Hillary's campaign spun it was to say they would've made much more if Bill had done so many free speeches over the years. They also note that almost 10% went to charitable contributions.

Look, there's more here than meets the eye, but that's fine. There are a few controversial investment figures that would be in this year's tax returns that haven't been filed yet. Also the charitable contributions were predominantly made to their own charitable trust which could [conceivably] be used someday to help them back.

But still, I have no qualms about this. It's America. They should be able to make as much they can without having to apologize. Ya's gotsta get paid.

My criticism here concerns the spin being offered with the releasing of these tax returns. Specifically, that of Clinton adviser Leon Panetta, who offered the following explanation of the Clintons' rags-to-riches endeavor:

"In many ways, it is becoming the American story. A lot of people who have devoted their lives to public service, who lived hand-to-mouth during months of public service, are suddenly able, after public life, to find some rewards."

Seriously, Leon, let's calm down for a second and dissect this monstrosity of a quote. First, I'm not quite sure I'd ever describe the Clintons as "the American story." It's not like we have the second-coming of Andrew Carnegie on our hands here. The most significant part of their income was directly connected to the controversies they experienced in the White House, specifically the Lewinski ordeal. I'm not sure many Americans would want that as a part of their story. If the trade-off for $100million was becoming the butt of a national joke, I think I'd pass.

Second, I'm not sure the Clintons were ever really living hand-to-mouth. To describe a couple holding degrees from Georgetown, Oxford, Wellesley, and Yale with a phrase reserved from lower class and homeless people is rather reckless. I'm not saying the Clintons always raked it in, but they were in no danger of being swallowed up by the streets.

Third and finally, the implication that "a lot of" public servants have been able to follow the Clintons' route and reap financial benefits is just untrue. This is a path for a select few who are able to ascend to America's highest political realms. The social worker who spends 30+ years doing their job cannot dream of being as fortunate as the Clintons. The reality is, a life of public service will often leave a person with much less financially than if they had pursued a comparable private sector job.

Again, let me make clear my position. I'm glad the Clintons have been able to strike it rich, especially considering the constant scrutiny they're under; at least it affords them a comfortable/secure lifestyle. But I'm not going to try to take their new-found wealth and make them look even more admirable or generous than they really are.

I guess in the end, it is what it is.