If This Is Hillary’s the Best Defense of the Clinton Foundation, She’s in Trouble

Andrew Burton/Getty Images/AFP
Andrew Burton/Getty Images/AFP

This article was written by Jonathan Chait and originally posted in the Daily Intelligencer:

The Clintons’ post-presidential career has turned out to be a serious problem, especially for people like me, who will almost certainly vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016. The Clintons’ foundation work and Bill Clinton’s speech-for-hire business put the couple in the position of asking for money from people or businesses who had or have reason to curry favor from Hillary Clinton during her tenure as secretary of State or as potential future president. Rather than treat these conflicts as a serious problem of public ethics and a campaign liability, the Clintons handled it haphazardly, creating significant problems for her 2016 campaign and legitimate reasons for undecided voters to doubt her and her husband’s commitment to good government.

That’s the argument I made in a column last Thursday. It has come under scathing attack by Joe Conason, author of The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton, and also the forthcoming The Hunting of Hillary: The Campaign to Destroy Hillary Clinton,” and possible future author of a book about efforts to hunt and/or destroy Chelsea Clinton. Conason has written a piece assailing my column as the latest installment in the effort to destroy the Clintons for containing, he claims, “stunning errors” and “misinformation.”

In fact, Conason identifies no errors or misinformation of any kind. His technique is to divert his audience’s attention away from the specific claims at issue, on which he has no ground to stand, and onto the amorphous question of the general virtues of the Clintons and the untrustworthiness of their enemies. Since my goal is to clarify the specifics of the matter at hand, I’ll go through his argument point by point.

1. Jonathan Chait of New York magazine has done no small damage to his own reputation as a liberal intellectual over the past year or so.”

Conason is correct that I wrote an essay denouncing political correctness that generated controversy on the left, but this is irrelevant.

2. Chait describes the Clinton post-presidency as ‘disastrous.’ Certainly the work of the former president hasn’t been ‘disastrous’ for the millions of people across the world aided by the work of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, including vast numbers whose lives have been saved over the past dozen years or so thanks to the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative (which Chait doesn’t deem worth mentioning).”

In fact, my column does mention that Clinton’s charitable work has “raise[d] a lot of money for charitable purposes that can do a lot of good.” It does not single out the HIV initiative for praise, but this has no bearing on the issue at hand, which concerns the conflicts of interest in their work.

3 “Nor has the Clinton post-presidency proved disastrous for President Barack Obama, a former adversary whom the Clintons have served very well indeed.”

Read the rest of the article here.