By George Capsis
Oh, wow—the New York Times, despite their endorsement of Hillary Clinton, slammed her in an editorial on February 26 entitled “Mrs. Clinton, Show Voters Those Transcripts.” It starts with a scolding:
“ ‘Everybody does it,’ is an excuse expected from a mischievous child, not a presidential candidate. But that is Hillary Clinton’s latest defense for making closed-door, richly paid speeches to big banks, which many middle-class Americans still blame for their economic pain, and then refusing to release the transcripts.”
The night before the article ran, I watched with more than the usual interest as
CNBC’s Chris Matthews interviewed Sanders at his alma mater, the University of Chicago, surrounded by supportive students.
Ever-smiling and listening to his own next questions, Matthews did not give Bernie a chance to respond as he asked three times how if the Republicans own Congress will he as a Democratic Socialist ever get anything passed. Matthews’ implication was that Hillary—used to the ways of Washington’s deals and compromises—could.
Finally, Bernie was allowed to answer by talking about his days at Chicago when he and students around the country joined the civil rights movement and incited civil rights change. (He gave as an example how they exposed that University of Chicago apartments only rented to whites.)
What he was saying was the Republicans would be just as tough on Hillary as they would be on him and block everything that they could. But because she has received millions in speaking fees, she is deeply and indelibly compromised and beholden to the 1%. (The top 1% now owns as much wealth as the bottom 90%—it also owns Congress, allowing it to dictate tax breaks for the rich.) We have reached a political crisis because the government is in the pay of the 1% and no longer works for the nation as a whole. We need the youth of our nation to do as they did in occupying Wall Street—demonstrate their collective rage and force action.
Bernie Sanders has been much more forthcoming about the few comparable gigs he has had. When asked about any private speeches, the Sanders campaign “came up with two from two decades ago that were not transcribed: one to a hospital trade association, and one to a college, each for less than $1,000.” And the Times also noted that Sanders donated all the royalties from the book The Speech to the nonprofit Addison County Parent/Child Center in Vermont. (The book is based on Sanders’s “eight-hour Senate floor diatribe against President Obama’s continuation of Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy.”)
But Clinton has taken more than $200,000 each for dozens of speeches to the banks and Wall Street. The staff at the Times provides several unsatisfactory quotes from Clinton about releasing the transcripts:
On various occasions the Times documents over the last month Clinton has said she would release them “if everybody does it, and that includes the Republicans.” That she would be “happy to release anything…when everybody else does the same, because every other candidate in this race has given speeches to private groups.” And, when asked during a CNN forum about the $675,000 she was paid for speeches to Goldman Sachs Clinton said “That’s what they offered,” adding that “every secretary of state that I know has done that.”
The Times wrote that on February 23 “Mrs. Clinton further complained ‘Why is there one standard for me, and not for everybody else?’ ” They rebut Clinton by pointing out “the only different standard here is the one Mrs. Clinton set for herself, by personally earning $11 million in 2014 and the first quarter of 2015 for 51 speeches to banks and other groups and industries.
OK, the message is clear—big money has bought our government. Even if we elect Donald Trump, big money will continue to run it for their own benefit.
Bernie Sanders will face a locked Congress door, but he will open the oval office to those young people who believe they should have a government that reflects their view of the future.
If nothing else he will let them be heard.