For Bill Clinton, a foundation shows cracks...
08/14/2013 2:00 PM
08/15/2013 6:56 AM
The New York Times ran a story Wednesday about the financial troubles surrounding the Clinton Foundation, and I suspect this is a story line that is not going away anytime soon. For Hillary Clinton, the practically anointed 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, this is just kind of another day at the Bill Clinton office.
For all the adulation Bill Clinton is receiving, yet again, it's not that long ago that his narrative was, shall we say, stained. And, it's his right to try to rehab himself and move onward and upward. In a way, he has. In another way, he hasn't. Here's why.
Although the presidency is a truly powerful and exalted position, the ex-presidency isn't an office.
It's turned into a racket.
Former presidents offer a special kind of limbo; they used to live in the White House, fly in Air Force One, drive in $200,000 cars, use Marine helicopters, and have a huge staff. Oh, and they had the power to start a nuclear war.
Then they don't.
With each passing administration, each former president has built a more elaborate Taj Mahal to themselves. I'm not saying they shouldn't have a presidential library; it's appropriate within bounds of reason. But increasingly these libraries have become destination resorts.
Bill Clinton has taken his post-presidency and turned it into a kind of corporate entity. All sorts of deals are made, some good, some self-aggrandizing (please don't write me about all the great things the Clinton Global Initiative has done; I'm sure they have done a lot). But a lot of this just has to do with two things: entertaining Bill Clinton and setting up Mrs. Clinton and his daughter for future elective office.
Maybe we're experiencing a kind of White Housing Bubble that just burst.
I'm not sure that's bad.
Because at some point, this all becomes ridiculous and demeans the office the American people sent Bill Clinton to hold. What's next? A Bill Clinton theme park with rides such as Starr Wars and Monica Mountain?
John Quincy Adams served in the U.S. House of Representatives after the presidency. Some have proposed presidents become ex-officio members of Congress. Maybe it would add some decorum to what has become a zoo.
But what's going on with the Clinton Foundation may shock some other guys who were actual founders: George Washington, for example. He went back to Mount Vernon. He had served.
Dialing for corporate dollars and flying Natalie Portman's dog around first class in your post-presidency may not have been what George had in mind.
I am sure Secretary Clinton would make a fine president and is eminently qualified.
I just hope her husband doesn't see it as yet another division of Clinton, Inc.
About This BlogJack Ohman joined The Sacramento Bee in 2013. He previously worked at the Oregonian, the Detroit Free Press and the Columbus Dispatch. His work is syndicated to more than 200 newspapers by Tribune Media Services. Jack has won the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, the Scripps Foundation Award and the national SPJ Award, and he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2012 and the Herblock Prize in 2013. Contact Jack at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @JACKOHMAN.
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