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Monday, October 23, 2017

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 that 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. (Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan had said he couldn’t make heads or tails of them.)

Some are troubled by the remark that the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms were done for partially political reasons. That should come as no great shock. In later public speeches, Clinton has called for tightening the Dodd-Frank regulations.

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.

Clinton was for letting Puerto Rico restructure its debts, a move opposed by Puerto Rico’s creditors. “We can no longer sit idly by while hedge funds seek to maximize their profits at the island’s expense,” she said in May.

Let’s remember that Clinton was a senator from New York. Financial services rank No. 1 in the state for total payroll. They provide over 160,000 jobs.

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.

Clinton has cashed her checks for the Goldman speeches. Donald Trump, meanwhile, continues to maintain extensive business ties with Vladimir Putin’s Russia, according to his son.

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.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at

Photo: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, U.S., May 16, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

11 Responses to Clinton’s Wall Street Speeches Were Actually Brilliant

  1. Maybe it’s because of her specific rhetorical style — where she starts by acknowledging that someone she disagrees may have some small points that she can say are worthy — her foes and the lazy “narrative”-driven press seem to always use this pre-pivot buttering against her. She has always been a victim of the ellipses users. It’s not fair, but there it is.

  2. Anyone that can extort $250,000 for a 20 minute speech is truly brilliant. They are also on the take, mafia style, and for sale. And if they happen to be office holders you can be sure they are sc-rewing their constituents.

    • How is getting paid to do a job being “on the take”? Oh right, you say it is so it must be true. Sorry you sad sacks haven’t managed to find a single bit of dirt on Clinton in thirty years – that’s probably more an indication of your incompetence than her moral purity, but it’s still HILARIOUS.

      You gonna lose!

    • According to this summary of fees The Donald is paid more – or was – than Hillary, Bill, Bush, Cheney, Condi………
      Earning money by giving speeches to businesses, conventions, etc. has gone on for a very long time and is a very respectable activity. Reagan, Bush I, athletes, celebrities, actors and others the public are interested in hearing from make good money this way.
      I used to be a member of a speakers bureau that hired speakers for our community. The fees were paid by locally based corporations. We paid several thousand dollars to have a protestor from Tiannemen Square speak. If our community was larger and therefore had more funds you can bet we would have gladly paid for someone with the experience of a Secretary of State speak. It is only when a Clinton gets speaking fees that it is treated like a criminal offense.

    • You couldn’t have a more wrong image of the balance of power between Wall Street and a lone U.S. Senator. In the relationship between a Federal Gov. and Wall Street, it is Wall Street who has been the extorter. The collective the U.S. Gov. itself can hardly contain, can barely regulate, to keep from once again running the entire Country’s economy in the ditch. A collective so powerful where after putting the World on the brink of financial disaster, extorts nearly a trillion dollars of low interest bridge loans from U.S. taxpayers, with promises of more to come if necessary, to calm a stampeding global market. Then to say if an elected official should ever be caught talking to them, making a paid speech to them, well, they must be corrupt. You are a prime example of what is wrong with a blathering, clueless Right. You’re an idiot.

      • Let me summarize your analysis…..Hillary is the victim! When she walked out of all those big bank, Wall Street meetings with $250,000 checks (and higher) after 20 minute appearances she felt used and angry! You can’t make up this stuff as to how a liberal’s mind works folks! Those who associate with the Clintons must abandon any association to any base of morality!

        • It’s called real world reality, where the rich like to hobnob with the famous. Of course you could not be expected to understand it. Being treated as shoe gum by your heroes. Your intelligence insulted by those on whom you depend for your window to the outside World that forms your enabling stance to their elitist goings on. Do they actually care how you characterize it, if it gets you to support those who keep the big wheels turning in their favor at your expense? That you are too enthralled, too invested in the narrative, too hoodwinked by their dupe, to see the obvious truth. That is exactly how it is.

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