Bril­liant speeches

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OPINION - Froma Har­rop Froma Har­rop is syn­di­cated by Cre­ators Syn­di­cate.

I’ve dis­missed talk of Hil­lary Clin­ton’s “se­crecy prob­lem” as mere bab­ble in an elec­tion year. I thought, for ex­am­ple, that Clin­ton had no obli­ga­tion to dis­close her mild pneu­mo­nia, a tem­po­rary ail­ment she was over in a few days.

Thus, I as­sumed there was some­thing po­lit­i­cally dam­ag­ing in her dis­cus­sions with Wall Street big­wigs, for which Gold­man Sachs paid $225,000 a shot. Why else would she deem it safer to let our imag­i­na­tions run wild about their con­tents than to re­lease the tran­scripts and let the chips fall where they may?

Now we have the three tran­scripts. Ev­ery­one can read them, and ev­ery­one should. What they show is Clin­ton’s ex­tra­or­di­nary un­der­stand­ing of our world — its lead­ers and their pol­i­tics, ter­ror­ist groups and their vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties, the in­ter­play of global forces, and the eco­nomic well-be­ing of Amer­i­cans.

Note that Clin­ton’s po­lit­i­cal foes are feast­ing over the ex­cit­ing fact that the speeches were “leaked.” They’re say­ing lit­tle about what was in them.

One can un­der­stand Clin­ton’s hes­i­ta­tion to re­lease the tran­scripts dur­ing the pri­maries. Bernie San­ders was mak­ing a pop­u­lar and heated case against the bil­lion­aire fi­nanciers. Any record of Clin­ton’s say­ing nice things to the Wall Street ti­tans would have been twisted out of pro­por­tion.

And Clin­ton did say nice things. She said, “I had great re­la­tions and worked so close to­gether after 9/11 to re­build down­town and a lot of re­spect for the work you do.”

Then came the pivot: “But I do ... think that when we talk about the reg­u­la­tors and the politi­cians, the eco­nomic con­se­quences of bad de­ci­sions back in ’08, you know, were dev­as­tat­ing, and they had reper­cus­sions through­out the world.”

She did sug­gest peo­ple in the in­dus­try could help im­prove the reg­u­la­tory sys­tem. Even that could be de­fended on the grounds that only in­sid­ers un­der­stood the ex­otic fi­nan­cial in­stru­ments that al­most brought the house down.

No one can find a quid pro quo — a trade of fa­vors — be­tween Clin­ton and the fi­nan­cial wizards who paid so hand­somely for her thoughts. That’s the main thing. On the con­trary, Clin­ton has long called for end­ing the “car­ried in­ter­est” tax loop­hole, which ben­e­fits pri­vate equity man­agers. She op­posed the Bear Stearns bailout. She’s now call­ing for a stiff hike in taxes paid by the rich­est Amer­i­cans — that is, many of the peo­ple in her au­di­ence.

Let’s re­mem­ber Clin­ton was a sen­a­tor from New York. Fi­nan­cial ser­vices rank No. 1 in the state for to­tal pay­roll. Help­ing home­town em­ploy­ers is why San­ders of Ver­mont de­fended the F-35 stealth fighter boon­dog­gle. It’s why El­iz­a­beth War­ren of Mas­sachusetts ag­i­tated for end­ing the tax on med­i­cal de­vices that helps pay for Oba­macare. It’s why anti-govern­ment con­ser­va­tives in the farm belt back govern­ment sub­si­dies to farm­ers.

Why Clin­ton in­sisted on keep­ing her bril­liant Wall Street talks se­cret will re­main an en­dur­ing mys­tery of this cam­paign. Heck, why didn’t she post them on her web­site? Beats me.

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