fbpx

Type to search

Saudi Money And The Moral Posturing Of Rand Paul

Editor's Blog

Saudi Money And The Moral Posturing Of Rand Paul

Share

Expecting morally serious debate from any would-be Republican presidential contender is like waiting for a check from a deadbeat. It could arrive someday, but don’t count on it.

But listening to someone like Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) feign outrage over a real moral issue can still be amusing, if you know enough about him to laugh. The Kentucky Republican has seized on stories about millions of dollars donated by Saudi Arabian agencies and interests to the Clinton Foundation, demanding that the Clintons return those funds because of gender inequality under the Saudi version of Islam.

Speaking to reporters in New Hampshire, the senator said the Saudi monarchy is waging “a war on women,” turning a phrase often used to describe what Republican politicians do to women here. Like all aspiring leaders in the GOP, Paul wants to prove that he would be tough enough to take on Hillary Rodham Clinton in a national campaign. Women and men alike may admire her and hope that she will become America’s first female president — but how can she speak on behalf of women and girls if her husband’s foundation accepted support from the Saudis?

Certainly it is true that the Saudi monarchy inflicts special oppressions on its female subjects. But before examining how that should influence the policies of a charitable foundation – and a former president or secretary of state – it is worth considering the feminist credentials of Rand Paul and his fellow Republicans.

Presumably, Paul favors permitting women to drive and exercise other rights that they would be denied in Riyadh. In his habitual hostility to any legislation improving the status of women in this country, however, he is all too typical of his party. He opposed the Paycheck Fairness Act, designed to ensure that women are paid equally to men for similar work, as an assault on the “free market” worthy of the “Soviet Politburo” (which somebody should tell him no longer exists).

Like Senators Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham and other presidential hopefuls, he co-sponsored the Blunt Amendment, a mercifully defeated law that would have deprived millions of women of contraceptive and other vital insurance coverage at the whim of any employer. He sponsored a constitutional amendment to outlaw abortion and some forms of birth control. And he even opposed reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act – a vote that the ultra-right Saudi imams would no doubt approve.

If Paul wants to confront an enemy of women’s advancement, he need only glance in the mirror.

As for the Clinton Foundation, leave aside the fact that the senator only knows about any Saudi donations because the foundation’s transparency exceeds anything required under U.S. law – and that the Carter Center, the Bush 41 and Bush 43 presidential libraries, Oxfam, and the World Health Organization, among many other charities, have also accepted Saudi funding.

Paul and other critics ought to explain specifically how the foundation’s receipt of support from Saudi Arabia has compromised its mission of empowering women and girls. Anyone who has attended the annual meetings of the Clinton Global Initiative, for instance, has seen and heard that commitment repeated again and again, around the world, in Muslim countries and everywhere else.

The fact that economic and social development demand full gender equality has been the unmistakable message of those meetings, year after year, for more than a decade. And no Saudi official who looked at the foundation’s programs in health, education, or economic development could misunderstand what the Clintons and their foundation are saying and doing.

To consider just one example: Over the past dozen years, the Clinton Health Access Initiative has helped to save millions of lives, including many women and girls suffering from HIV/AIDS. In Ethiopia, the Saudi billionaire Sheik Mohammed Al Amoudi donated $20 million to a Clinton Foundation program providing AIDS drugs to infected men, women, and children.

Would it have been better to refuse the Saudi money, provide less medicine, and let some of those Ethiopians die?

While Bill Clinton’s answer is plain enough, let’s not pretend such moral quandaries really trouble Rand Paul and his ilk. We already know that politicians like him are quite prepared to “let ’em die” here as well as over there, because they are eager to repeal the Affordable Care Act, ruin Medicare, and gut the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

But it is a question for the rest of us to consider seriously.

Photo: Rand Paul speaks at the 42nd annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Feb. 27, 2015 in National Harbor, Md. Conservative activists attended the annual political conference to discuss their agenda. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

This post has been updated.

Tags:
Joe Conason

A highly experienced journalist, author and editor, Joe Conason is the editor-in-chief of The National Memo, founded in July 2011. He was formerly the executive editor of the New York Observer, where he wrote a popular political column for many years. His columns are distributed by Creators Syndicate and his reporting and writing have appeared in many publications around the world, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Nation, and Harpers. Since November 2006, he has served as editor of The Investigative Fund, a nonprofit journalism center, where he has assigned and edited dozens of award-winning articles and broadcasts. He is also the author of two New York Times bestselling books, The Hunting of the President (St. Martins Press, 2000) and Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth (St. Martins Press, 2003). Currently he is working on a new book about former President Bill Clinton's life and work since leaving the White House in 2001. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, including MSNBC's Morning Joe, and lives in New York City with his wife and two children.

  • 1

29 Comments

  1. bernieo March 20, 2015

    Taking money from the Saudis and using it to promote policies that undermine their misogyny is bad how???? Pure genius if you ask me.
    I would love to see someone take money from Putin and use it to promote a free press in Russia. Better yet would be using money from Rupert Mudoch to promote a substantive and objective media here. How about using Koch money for minority get out the vote drives. One can only hope.

    Reply
    1. Independent1 March 21, 2015

      Interesting you should mention Putin. It looks like Putin may be in the midst of being pushed out via a slow coup. Here’s an article you may find of interest if you haven’t seen it:

      Looks like Obama may have outmaneuvered Putin, forcing him to overreach.

      http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/03/14/1371003/-Looks-like-Obama-may-have-outplayed-Putin?detail=email

      Reply
      1. Sand_Cat March 21, 2015

        Well, he wasn’t, and if he had been, there is no guarantee – or even evidence – that someone better would have ended up in charge.

        Reply
  2. charleo1 March 20, 2015

    It was a well known fact that Mother Teresa would have ask Old Scratch Himself for a donation to save her beautiful starving children, had the opportunity ever presented itself. Mr. Paul’s problem is in the culture in which he operates. In the World he knows, charity for charity’s sake is practically unheard of. If a man gives you his money, he expects you to do something for him. Advocate for his point of view. Litigate his defense, and legislate his particular position. So he implies here, without ever feeling the need to check. As all his personal experiences tell him, this is always as it is. And is surely the case with the Saudis? No, just a case of a shill incidentally caught thinking like a shill.

    Reply
    1. Independent1 March 21, 2015

      Charleo, you may have seen this, but in case not, it looks like Obama may have out maneuvered Putin. He hasn’t been seen in about 2 weeks; assumption is he’s being pushed out of power via a slow coup.

      See this from the DailyKos:

      Looks like Obama may have outmaneuvered Putin, forcing him to overreach.

      McCain’s recent attack on Obama’s foreign policy was on March 4th. Putin hasn’t been seen since March 5th. And now, informed sources are saying a “slow motion coup” is underway in Russia.

      Speculation centers around a speech given at Russia’s Mercury Club, two months ago. The Mercury Club is important. Its founding members are a Who’s Who of Russian power brokers and includes top leadership from the:

      Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation, World Trade Center Moscow, the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, The Russian Union of Manufacturers, the “Russian Parliamentarian” Club, the Orthodox Businessmen Club, the Union of Journalists of Russia, the International Press-Club, and a number of other associations

      The Mercury Club was formed to provide a venue that enabled business, political and cultural interactions between lawmakers, business people, officials of the Government and the Administration of the President of Russia.

      In short, the Mercury Club is where heavy hitters in Russia meet.

      The president of this association is former Russian Prime Minister, Yevgeny Primakov. When he speaks, people listen.

      Two months ago, at a Mercury Club forum, Primakov spoke about his concerns for Russia’s economic future and “tore Putin’s policy to bits.”

      http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/03/14/1371003/-Looks-like-Obama-may-have-outplayed-Putin?detail=email

      Reply
      1. Sand_Cat March 21, 2015

        A bit off topic, aren’t we?

        Reply
  3. PostSurgeOperative March 21, 2015

    If the Saudis wanted to bribe Mrs. Clinton, why wouldn’t they simply give her suitcases filled with cold, hard. untraceable cash, rather than give checks to the publicly-transparent Clinton Foundation? Rand Paul is as stupid as it is delusional.

    Presumably Rand Paul can point to specific evidence of wrong doing, right? Or, is he just slinging mud to smear and scare off the likely Democratic nominee?

    Reply
    1. jamesowens March 21, 2015

      or send someone like boener to write checks on the senate floor like the tobacco companys did to the gop

      Reply
  4. FT66 March 21, 2015

    I have one question to this curled-hair guy Rand Paul. I hope you understand that the Clinton Foundation was created by former Pres. Bill Clinton in order to keep him busy helping those who need help while Hillary was busy dealing with other appoinments like she had as a Senator and Secretary of State. Do you mean Rand Paul, if you tie Hillary to this Foundation, wouldn’t it bother you at all if Bill Clinton willl interfere in Hillary’s job, if she will be elected President? as all is about the CLINTONS?

    Reply
    1. Sand_Cat March 21, 2015

      What?

      Reply
      1. Insinnergy March 22, 2015

        Hmmm that was a little hard to follow, indeed.

        Reply
  5. Wedge Shot March 21, 2015

    Rand Paul Hypocrite extraordinaire.
    Anything that comes out of rand Paul’s mouth needs to be filtered for serious hypocritical disease before any serious listening is used.

    Reply
  6. jamesowens March 21, 2015

    he just wants his name in the news no matter how big an a hole he makes of himself

    Reply
  7. Phillip Russertt March 22, 2015

    im not a republican but believe the media should present the total truth. As far as the fair wages act the republicans arent against fair wages they are against the bill proposed. Their reasoning is that they feel (and its true) the law already is in place that employers cannot discriminate. It may not be enforced (thats the real problem to address) but its in place so making this law is redunant, They feel that if this law was inplace due to the subjectiveness of the claims that a woman isnt getting the same pay it would tie up the courts with suits that are on the tax payers dime. there is some truth to this. Any disgruntled female employee could make this claim under this new bill and it would be a litigated disaster. Alot of the bills the media reports the republicans are against isnt the case. they come back with ammendments that the democrtas disagree with and neither can come to a compromise. It takes two to dance. Both parties are rich and dont have to live by our means byt the liberal media will have you believe one party of wealthy powerful people is for you and the other is not. They are both the problem and the media is filling us with propoganda and lies to suit their agenda.

    Reply
    1. Phillip Russertt March 22, 2015

      also if the dems are any better than I ask you to look up Glasse-steagal under Bill Clinton. (hope Ispelled it right). Bush was a terrible president so is Obama. They all are because none of them live how we live. Until WE THE PEOPLE see this and stop buying their lies we wont unite. This is how hundreds control millions. Divide and conquer. Oldest strategy in the world. “no one told the sheep they outnumber the wolves”.

      Reply
      1. Sand_Cat March 23, 2015

        Obviously you lean GOP, despite your apparent attempt to say they’re both bad. Fair enough. But then mentioning the amendments the GOP offers to Dem bills as if they were reasonable goes a bit beyond the pale. It would appear that either you haven’t been listening to them, or you wish to agree with them without seeming as wildly delusional as they are.
        Yes, both parties are corrupt, so what’s your suggestion, since you claim that what you call “bi-partisanship” is – what did you call it? – well, let’s just say “stupid.”
        And saying there’s no difference at all or claiming we have unnamed alternatives isn’t very helpful. As far as Bill Clinton goes, he would have made a nice moderate Republican in saner times, as would Barack Obama; is it any surprise he played ball with the other Republicans who wanted to destroy Glasse-Steagall – however it’s spelled?
        So, please enlighten us. And try not to be quite so patronizing; your “superiority” is more than a little off-putting.
        Sorry this is a bit stream-of-consciousness; don’t have tine to clean it up.

        Reply
        1. Phillip Russertt March 26, 2015

          honestly i dont understand how or why anyone feels threatened or offended by my opinion but it seems that if someone differs from you then you are upset. irrational and emotional. you can think I lean whatever way you want but you just prove and fit the mold of my point. its either or with people like you. you also seem to get offended very easily. it will be a tough life for you then. I stand for whatever represents real freedom and both parties can exemplify it and at the same time deny it. as far as a solution? i have plenty of ideas but did you really want me to sit here and type a thesis? I suggest you learn how to civilly agree to disagree without slinging accusations and such. That would require maturity and a tougher skin as well as the ability to accept people dont have to fit your narrative. I am done speaking with irrational people that are unable to simply discuss different views without being so hurt. Honestly I see people like you and feel you are the major part of the problem. You are brainwashed into a specific frame of mind and are offended way to easily. feel free to get the last word if you need it because I will not respond. lastly you accuse me of being condescending and arrogant but it was you who determined to know my character without ever meeting me. I bet in the same breath you are the type to say dont judge and walk a mile in my shoes etc. must be nice to live in a do as I say not as I do world. then again you would just respond by saying I just judged you and avoid the whole statement or responsibility. Ihate extremists of either side. Liberals are killing this country and extreme bible thumping corporate assholes are killing this country and those of us who feel we are simply freedom loving Americans get caught in the middle of your petty fighting. But keep fighting with me while we both live paycheck to paycheck. i couldve had respect for you if you could of at least addressed any of the valid points i made but you need to stick to your narrow ideology whether right or wrong.

          Reply
          1. Sand_Cat March 26, 2015

            Sorry you’re so thin-skinned yourself. Your previous posts were none too civil, but I guess all of us have to bow down and be polite to you.
            Not offended, just a bit tired of the superior people who stand in the middle of a disaster, offer no solutions, but are sooo much better than the rest.
            You obviously don’t know what a “liberal:” is, apparently never having encountered one, so it’s just a tiny bit presumptuous to tell us all how “liberal extremists” are destroying the country. What liberals exist today are probably about as unextreme as could possibly be found But go ahead and retire in a huff to the rest of your “freedom-loving American” friends. I don’t mind having the last word, though you obviously think it a sign of your superiority.

            Reply
    2. charleo1 March 22, 2015

      If the Republicans aren’t against fair wages, they sure aren’t for doing anything about helping to ensure wages are fairer, or that they are livable for that matter. And Republicans weren’t concerned about Lilly Ledbetter. A woman who found quite accidentally, she had clearly been discriminated against by her employer for more than 40 years. The Supreme Court, where her case finally wound up, agreed as much. But then found she would have needed to file her case in a much more timely manner. Even as her employer had hidden the facts of her discrimination from her for years. The Court’s ruling literally crying out for more protective legislation in a Country where women make $.70 for every $1.00 made by their male counterparts. With the introduction of the Lilly Ledbetter Act of 2009, named for the woman so unjustly denied her Right to fair pay by the original law. Republicans in Congress had an opportunity to stand tall for fair pay, and equal treatment for women in the workforce, by addressing this newly created, by the SC ruling, a statute of limitations, for employers willfully violating those laws already on the books. But the politics of obstruction, and ideology averse to any regulation against corporate interests, trumped all else. And the Act passed with overwhelming Democratic support. And not because of GOP support of fair wages, but in spite of it. In fact, the legislation passed over Republican’s objections, not to amendments, or riders, but to Party principle. That government has no legitimate role whatsoever to play in the discriminatory, or non-discriminatory withholding of a fair wage to not only women, but to any wage earner. It was certainly not a case of they both do,”it.” Because they all are both Parties exactly the same, so we all cam just, never mind Because it doesn’t matter anyway. Well, it does matter. It matters a lot, when we know the facts.

      Reply
      1. Phillip Russertt March 22, 2015

        i think you misunderstood the point of my post but you go on with your bipartisan thinking because its gotten you so far. your post shows you have been indoctrinated to believe one party is better than the other and you are part of the problem. as far as the nonsense you said about they are both bad it doesnt matter, that wasnt my point but when you think along bipatrisan lines as you do you think the only solution is dem or rep. very ignorant and not based on fact. facts show they are both for keeping their wealth and power. but you keep on thinking the way you do and getting so offended in the process while i will think for myself not by whats force fed to me by the media or either party. Good luck to you.

        Reply
        1. charleo1 March 22, 2015

          As you say, because you know so much better. Well, believe this. I understood your point perfectly, because I’ve heard it before. Same old arrogant cynical crap the Kremlin, and other anti-democratic regimes have been touting in their propaganda about our political system since Lenin. So you go on ignoring reality, and thinking about a third way, or a fourth way. And, keep spreading the notion that our system of gov. has failed, and there’s very little any of us can do about it. And that moreover, it’s only fools, and propagandized ignoramuses like me, that can’t see the obviousness of it all. Well, let me ask you,
          Sir. How far, and in what direction, do you see that kind of thinking taking any of us? Yes, it irritates me to no end, when people are too lazy, or disinterested to actually follow the process and see for themselves what is going on. But would rather just throw up their hands, bitch, and paint anyone who holds an office in gov. as frauds, and thieves, only interested in lining their own pockets. It is my point that, cynicism, and nihilism at this level are poisonous to a democracy. And I’m seeing far too much of it being propagated by the Libertarian, John Birch Society advancing, of the Koch funded think tanks, and propaganda campaigns. In addition, it’s insulting, as was your reply.

          Reply
          1. Phillip Russertt March 22, 2015

            are we having the same conversation? are you speaking to someone else thinking it was me because you are making statements that have nothing to do with what I said. you are accusing and assuming when it comes to my stance and knowledge. its only shows you act from irrational emotion rather than using your brains. I am done speaking with you because you are so way out there that reasoning and discussing is not possible. you are going off on tangents that are not related to my point nor my stance. You dont know what my knowledge is nor do you know what you are talking about. comparing me to communists? you are off your rocker and as what seems to be a liberal democrat you are much closer to a socialist or communist than I. I am not republican or democrat I am an American who believes WE THE PEOPLE should be what these fools represent. Sheeple such as yourself who think its bipartisan only are the ones who wind up bringing about socialsm which most likely turns to communism. Lazy and disinterested? where does that come from? You need to seek therapy and also read what someone writes NOT read into it. I am done wasting time on you and really feel you are part of the problem. Sheeple who take sides againts each other will never get anything accomplished. Too many loons on the internet who think they know something. BYE.

            Reply
          2. Phillip Russertt March 22, 2015

            im sorry one last thing. are any of our govt officials on social security? are they getting lifetime benefits and salary for them and their families? do they live lavish lives while we are paycheck to paycheck? do they seem to have life long careers in what is supposed to be a civil servant position that they are to serve ie. jury duty? are they living in middle class neighborhoods or even poor areas? are they on the affordable care act? do their children go to war? do they create revenue? or just redistribute OUR revenue through taxes? do they put laws into place thinking they know better for we the people? Are the sweet loving democrats sacrificing all of these things to help the poor? the middle class? wake up. im not arrogant just using my eyes.

            Reply
  8. jenn March 22, 2015

    And where does Rand Paul raise money from for all the people around the world that *he* helps? oh..not applicable.

    Reply
    1. dpaano April 9, 2015

      First question is WHAT people around the world does he help???

      Reply
  9. suziel813 March 22, 2015

    we all know that the republicans do not set a value on women. no matter what issue. their only wish for women is obedience, barefoot, pregnant and do not feel womern are equal, period. even republican women are doing what their men want them to do or be. they consider themselves the better gender. wrong way of thinking. i have to say that i love thinking for myself. let no man tell me differently. been there, done that. i admire men that consider there women as equal in every way.i know that hillary’s honest and that no republican, male or female will change my mind. so sad that we women do not all feel the same. maybe, its because some go with their male partners or constituents that they are indeed the weaker sex. a woman has a right to every advantage life will give to her. her self esteem, her work, her every existence. please know this.

    Reply
  10. howa4x March 25, 2015

    Well the republicans can say anything they want about women because they failed to show up in masse at the ballot box during the mid terms,. even though issues like contraception and gender gap were very much at stake. They sat back and allowed a total victory for the forces of female repression in this country to gain a majority in both houses. Women have to act like these issues are important by voting and getting other women registered. If you all sit back when Hillary runs it is game over

    Reply
  11. Mr Corrections March 27, 2015

    I’m shocked – SHOCKED – that a libertarian turned out to be a hypocrite.

    Reply
  12. dpaano April 9, 2015

    Just another GOP hypocrite!!! It’s okay for them to wage a war on women, but heaven help us if the Saudi’s do the same thing under a different guise!!

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.