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Susan Estrich
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The Christmas Spirit

Comment

In the eight years since he left the White House, Bill Clinton has worked tirelessly to save the lives of children in some of the most miserable places on the planet. He has traveled to Africa more than most of us travel to see relatives, in order to bring much-needed medicines for AIDS and malaria to those who would die without them and to support economic development in places like Rwanda and Malawi.

He has used his contacts with philanthropists, billionaires and barons, governments and foundations, to raise hundreds of millions of dollars not for himself, but for those in need. He has negotiated agreements with drug companies to bring treatment to those who can't afford it and can't live without it.

For all of this, his wife should be denied confirmation as secretary of state?

If foreigners want to give Bill Clinton's foundation money, fine. If financiers want to help, fine. If super-size hustlers are willing to give millions in exchange for the chance to hobnob with the former president, then my only wish is that he will have the good health and energy and patience to keep hobnobbing.

The release of the list of donors to the Clinton Foundation is a testament to the depth and breadth of the "Friends of Bill," not a reason to vote against his wife for secretary of state. I wish I could afford to give millions. I'm glad that others can. Frankly, I don't give a damn who they are. If anyone thinks that giving Bill Clinton money to cure malaria will change the foreign policy of the United States, they clearly don't have much respect for either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

But what about that bad guy from Kazakhstan? What about him?

After years of fighting for limits on campaign contributions to candidates themselves — a far more powerful force for offensive influence-peddling than charitable donations to the very independent spouse of a presidential appointee — I have all but given up on the hope of restricting the sale of access and influence to the highest bidder. Ban corporate contributions, and corporate executives bundle their individual donations. Limit direct contributions, and you get party committees. Ban donations by foreign governments, and their well-paid Washington lobbyists pony up instead.

Ban soft money, and you get independent expenditures. I'm not saying we should give up, just that we should get real.

In the long run, the best protection — if there is one — is transparency. Disclose and scrutinize. Even then, money can be hidden, but the more disclosure, the better; the greater the transparency, the less givers get for their buck.

So I think it was well and good that President Clinton disclosed his donors. If anyone wants to give special scrutiny when Hillary deals with the folks from Kazakhstan, or Ukraine, or wherever else Bill Clinton has far-flung and well-heeled friends, go right ahead.

I'm not sure what our policies are, or how they might be influenced by the charitable donations to the Clinton Foundation, but by all means give strict scrutiny to the decisions Mrs. Clinton makes that could have some impact on those who have made charitable donations to her husband's foundation. It's more than what we do right now, frankly, with respect to members of Congress whose spouses are on the payroll of the very industries they regulate (did someone say Debbie Dingell?).

The worst thing that could come of the Clinton disclosure is that a very talented, strong and deserving candidate for secretary of state, the President-elect's choice for that office, would lose the chance to serve her country in that capacity. I don't think that will happen.

The second worst thing, almost as bad, is that Bill Clinton's effort to deal with Third World malaria and save the lives of children who die in infancy from curable diseases would be blocked by those who have invested so much in Clinton-bashing that they can't stop themselves.

I found myself on television recently with one such Clinton-hater, who was reduced to sputtering about the former president using his contacts for personal wealth. Personal wealth? By saving children from malaria? By getting AIDS medicine to Africa? By finding ways that people in Rwanda can actually earn a day's pay? What is wrong with these people?

If he wanted to, Bill Clinton could spend his days and nights playing golf and partying. Instead, he's still trying to save the world. He might not succeed, but it's a better place for his efforts — and those who would try to stop him, or punish his wife for it, need to take a long, hard look at their own motives.

To find out more about Susan Estrich, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.



Comments

8 Comments | Post Comment
All the Clinton haters need to chill out.... Bill is no longer president...what he does now is his business. Would that someone would begin investigating the Bush family dealings even half as much as the haters zero in on Bill Clinton.
Tha shady dealing of Neil Bush and the disappearance of all those millions from Silverado has never been explained.. The insider trading case of George W and Harken Oil was never investigated by the SEC and George W should have been prosecuted ala Martha Stewart. Members of my family lost moeny when this happened so we know what he did. (Sold all of his shares of stock after learning in a board meeting that the company was tanking. and before that news was announced to the public) He never would have been president if the SEC had done it's job.
Where is the scrutiny of the Bush family? I don't want to see another Bush in political office anywhere again, That includes Jeb.
A good investigative reporter could do Us all a favor and publish a good book on the shady dealings of the BUSH family.
Robert Lipka
Comment: #1
Posted by: robert lipka
Thu Dec 25, 2008 6:58 AM
People who save the lives of children around the world do it by working there, not making the rounds. As since when is there opposition to Hillary? I'm Republican and I thought it was a good appointment. Maybe Susan is making a phony giant out of one enemy who have all the integrity of those losers challenging Barry's citizenship.

Need a big enemy, easily defeat-able enemy? Give the Yahoo's all the press time. Build them up to knock them down.

Get a life. Bill Clinton was the best Republican President's this country ever had. Ask any Dot.com billionaire. Ask the balanced budget braggarts who never would have gotten close without the "tickle down economics" cuts on capitol gains taxes pushing them over the finish line. Ask the SEC why they got no help from Bill when they wanted more regulations over firms like Arther Anderson. Ask the hedge funds who just used the credit default swaps that Clinton made legal to make themselves billions deliberately destroying companies and the lives of millions.

And then we have the true liberals elected by people waiting for the shoe factories to come back. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are sound. Who coined that phrase? If the society hangs itself, so much the better. Welcome to East Germany!

Susan's and Bill's friends break our legs and then expect thanks when they give money to some African who will grow up to want to kill us.

These sanctimonious people are a front for their own brand of corruption, supporting a masturbation image of integrity for the mob. The "Golden rule" is that they that have the gold, make the rules. The "transition rule" is meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Madoff should be made a national hero considering who he screwed.

The rich only find their way to heaven in prison or bankruptcy court if they believe in Heaven at all.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Boris K.
Fri Dec 26, 2008 9:10 AM

Susan,

Thank you for your slanted, one sided, butt kissing article on the Clinton's. I guess I am just one of those Clinton haters you address in your column. Bubba and Hillary are clearly power seeking, money grabbing opportunists who will do absolutely anything to get in the limelight! Other than Bubba's problem keeping his pants on, he is a phony unmatched on the globe. Don't tell me about his "Child Saving Efforts"--that is a bunch of bullshit! Hillary, the man-woman is a filthy mouthed, vicious withch who orchestrated pillaging the White House upon their departure and did not have enough gusto to dump the whore chaser when she found out that the "Far Right Wing" did not conspire to have Monica get on her knees in the Oval Office but her own sweet lying Bubba had once again strayed from the sty!
Comment: #3
Posted by: Lou
Mon Dec 29, 2008 4:29 AM
I'm certainly not a Clinton lover and have always felt he disgraced the office of the President. In the same vane, I certainly would not want to go through life opening newspapers and finding bawdy politican cartoons with my likeness depicting me unfavorably the rest of my life. Sadly, he feels he nver did anything wrong so will live in anger. Not a great way to live your life.

I've admired Susan over the years though I've never always agreed with her. I've always felt her commentary is thoughtful and honest. I don't believe I've ever seen her so adament as she is about Clinton's help to children. Good for her. Must be something in what she writes since Susan feels so strongly. Susan, thanks for keeping things on a level playing field.

Retired Airborne/Ranger
Comment: #4
Posted by: Charlie Taylor
Tue Dec 30, 2008 2:26 PM
Gee Susan, ALL that money goes from Bill to the poor victims of the world? They now have a personal fortune not including the funds from the foundation of over 100 million and none of that will buy any influence at all...Bill's done some great work, but so have many others who don't get to live like them or get the same recognition. Bill only has sent money, countless people actually DO the work and often get little or worse for it.

Susan talks like an elitist, and even sillier, makes a case for special interest money being moral and good. She should be working for the GOP, I'm sure she'd take their money if they offered enough.

Al
Comment: #5
Posted by: AL HANDA
Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:07 PM
How the hell did that stuff above get into a current O'Reilly column?
Comment: #6
Posted by: Derel Schrock
Sat Dec 22, 2012 5:58 AM
Bill: A very Merry Christmas to you and yours, and a Blessed New Year!!!
Comment: #7
Posted by: easterelizabeth
Sun Dec 23, 2012 4:12 AM
Say what?
Comment: #8
Posted by: easterelizabeth
Sun Dec 23, 2012 4:16 AM
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