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OK. I don't get it. I admit that right up front. Even after asking people all over the Internet to explain it to me, even after reviewing the appropriate law, even after hearing the emotional justifications, I just can not make this make sense. Will somebody please explain this to me?

As early as last Tuesday, talking heads were saying that if she couldn't be VP, Hillary's last remaining non-negotiable demand, in exchange for not continuing her rules committee fights all the way to the Denver convention, was that the Obama campaign officially or unofficially help her pay off her campaign's debt. I dismissed this idea as silliness. Then Friday afternoon, Senator Clinton, who could after all talk to Senator Obama any time she wants (they do work together) insisted that they covertly sneak away to meet in an undisclosed location for an hour. At the end of the hour, both campaigns admitted, off the record, that there was a deal. And sure as heck, on Saturday (44 minutes late, and as ungraciously as ever) she did give what could, if you're broad-minded enough, be argued to be called a concession speech that endorsed Barack Obama. You had to listen carefully for it, because it was sandwiched in between a whole heck of a lot of talk about Hillary's campaign, and Hillary's causes, and how important Hillary Clinton is ... you know, her favorite topic. But she did say to her people, "vote for Barack Obama." And what do you know ... in less than an hour, surrogates for the Obama campaign were all over the Internet, including the obama_2008 LiveJournal community, begging for people to donate money to Hillary Clinton's 2008 Presidential campaign.

When pressed, they clarify (quietly) that what they're really hoping is that only the people who legally can't give any more money to the Obama campaign donate to her; they quietly admit that they don't exactly want people to max themselves out helping her rather than doing the smart thing, funding the campaign that could, you know, actually still win. But that's not the appeal that went out; the appeal that went out was for anybody who supports Barack Obama to send whatever they can afford to Hillary Clinton 2008 in order to help them pay off their estimated $30.4 million debt.

I've heard this explained as a gesture for "party unity." And was it a gesture of "party unity" when she took out those loans in order to pay for attack ads on the (by the time she was taking out those loans, already statistically inevitable) party candidate? Nobody made her take out those loans, nor is it as if she used that money for anything that was in any way good for the Democratic Party, or like anybody in the Democratic Party was even asking her to do so.

What's more, who exactly is this gesture supposed to impress? She's already asked the people who were as committed to the Democratic Party as they were to her to vote for Obama in November and to campaign as hard for him as they would have for her. Yes, I know that a lot of bitter (and so far as I can tell from seeing them on YouTube, virulently racist) old Boomer and Silent generation white women don't want to do that, but are they going to magically learn to love Obama just because his followers gave Hillary some money? I don't think so. A ridiculously expensive $30+ million "display of party unity" is wasted on them; they don't want money, they don't want gestures of respect, they want a bullet through that "inadequate black male" head.

We're also told that Clinton's own donors are tapped-out, at the federal donation limit, and that if she can't raise the $30.4 million by the time of the Democratic National Convention, she becomes responsible for the loan and the whole amount becomes a donation to her own campaign. To which I reply, so? That's as legal as church on Sunday. There is no federal campaign spending limit on what you can spend of your own money. And here's the real kicker for me: so what if she has to pay her vendors out of pocket? The Clintons are rich. They've averaged $13,502,364 a year in income since Bill Clinton left office, and have an estimated net worth of roughly $35 million dollars. How much of a tragedy would it really be to ask them to get by on "only" five million dollars until one of them gets another book contract or Bill Clinton gives another speaking tour?

For crying out loud. What could possibly justify asking guys like me who make less than $20,000 per year, living on fixed income in a Section 8 housing complex, to donate money so that a multi-millionairess doesn't have to get by on "only" her last five million dollars? Please, somebody, for the love of all that's holy and good, explain this to me?


( 37 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 8th, 2008 08:04 am (UTC)
Re the 'concession' speech:

About the donation stuff, I can't help you.
Jun. 8th, 2008 08:16 am (UTC)
It's because politicians are better and more important people than the rest of us, and should never be inconvenienced by making giant, selfish mistakes. And hey, she made those giant, selfish mistakes on our behalf, so she could ensure that government inflation statistics keep on failing to reflect reality and we can keep on getting screwed out of COLI raises/increases so her Wall Street buddies can roll around in more dough! Wouldn't that be swell?

Seriously though, that boggles my mind too. I hope nobody sends her so much as a dime.
Jun. 8th, 2008 09:12 am (UTC)
"Net worth" of $35M includes property, bonds, stock, shares in partnerships, and so forth -- much of it usually not liquid. Still, the whole thing does very much seem to strike the wrong note.
Jun. 8th, 2008 10:21 am (UTC)
For one thing, I don't count it as a human tragedy if a multi-millionaire has to liquidate some assets to pay off a loan that she took out voluntarily. But besides, it is a loan. They make $10M/yr. So she pays it back over four years, and is out of debt in time for the 2012 election season. This is our problem how?
Jun. 8th, 2008 01:23 pm (UTC)
And the loan was mostly from herself as I understand it. I think she could work out favorable terms with herself.
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 8th, 2008 03:53 pm (UTC)
If it is limited, it's a pretty high limit. Romney spent $42.3 million of his own money before dropping out.
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 9th, 2008 11:54 pm (UTC)
Am I reading that right in my understanding that basically anything she doesn't cover before the DNC is, other than that $250K, gone?
Jun. 8th, 2008 11:56 am (UTC)
The poor are the only ones that are ever responsible for their mistakes. The rich aren't ever expected to learn any lessons.
Jun. 8th, 2008 12:23 pm (UTC)
There wasn't a deal for her concession, or if there was, it wasn't struck at the Friday evening meeting. It'd been announced well before then. So that's one thing.

Why would Obama encourage people to donate to her? She can help him win. Yes, she's endorsed him, but personal appearances move more votes than mere endorsements. There are plenty of constituencies and parts of the country in which the Clintons are very popular. If they spend a good chunk of their energy stumping in the next five months, that's worth something significant to the Obama campaign. And if goodwill keeps down the snark level too, so much the better.

As to the morality of such a plea, I'm with you. I find it bizarre. But I understand the political logic of it.
Jun. 8th, 2008 12:46 pm (UTC)
I think it serves "party unity", because if she didn't get the money paid back she was going to keep her campaign running. So the party is unified because now that Obama's people are asking for her to get money, she's out of the race. Obama probably felt like he had to accept that deal because having Hillary Clinton actively attacking him for the next couple of months was going to hurt his chances to win the general election; so, from a coldly rational point of view, the money contributed is still helping his campaign because it's keeping her from savaging him. (He could, of course, have gone back on this deal after she made her speech, but going back on that kind of political deal is really bad business.)

Pretty sure there isn't any more to it than that. I'm just hoping there wasn't any additional price tag we don't know about yet.
Jun. 8th, 2008 01:49 pm (UTC)
Isn't that called Danegeld?
Jun. 9th, 2008 02:08 am (UTC)
Or blackmail?
Jun. 8th, 2008 01:32 pm (UTC)
One thing I have noted several times is that by running an extra candidate long after the decision was obvious allowed the DNC to double the legal contributions to the Democratic side of the presidential contest.

Where the Republicans can get $2,300 from each donor to buy ads and produce events that support voting for a Republican in November, the Democrats have been able to get $4,600 from each and every donor for the same purposes.

By running these two candidates this long they have also dominated the media coverage of the presidential race as a whole. They have also forced the Republican candidate to work twice as hard to differentiate himself from the Democratic. (McCain not only has had to show where he differs from Obama, but also where he differs from Clinton.)

Was this the plan? I don't know, but I would be surprised if it did not occur in the back rooms at the DNC. Did it work? So far, yes. The media coverage has pretty much been Clinton vs Obama (and there is some other guy over there).

I will be surprised if both parties don't run longer primary contests next year.
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 8th, 2008 04:56 pm (UTC)
A lot of people aren't voting for Obama because they are racist. But not everyone.
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 9th, 2008 02:10 am (UTC)
Not me, I'll be bitching about how the Republicans have cheated AGAIN!
Jun. 8th, 2008 01:34 pm (UTC)
When people kept saying "She has a right to keep her campaign going", I would wonder if that meant there was no good reason to do it.
Jun. 8th, 2008 04:38 pm (UTC)
It's interesting... as a woman, of course I was interested to see how Hillary did. I might have even considered voting for her, if I could have forgotten about her previous role in Washington and other issues. But then she started the mudslinging and the scare tactics, and my mouth hung open in Bwuh?, because as a Democrat, she was doing the Republicans' job for them. (In fact, she scared me so much as a nominee, that if she was doing this to a fellow Democratic nominee, what the hell would she do to other nations coming to the table to negotiate?)

And we're supposed to believe that she genuinely supports Obama? Hardly.

You know what really scares me these days? Seeing all the hard-core Hillary supporters who are showing just how far we haven't come as a nation: those who feel that Obama getting the November slot is a slight against womanhood, not that people didn't like Hillary or her politics or game style, oh no. And especially those who unashamedly profess racist sentiments on news programs (or YouTube or the like).

We're supposed to be - in our own minds, anyway - the "most advanced" country in the world for tolerance and so forth. When our own country is showing that no, we really aren't... how can we justify going out in the world and "teaching" other people how to be more Democratic?

Jun. 8th, 2008 05:41 pm (UTC)
It's not so shocking if you realize that Obama is an establishmentarian too.

Curious though - why no mention of Obama & the Bilderberger meeting? It certainly adds a layer of context...
Jun. 8th, 2008 06:23 pm (UTC)
Largely because I take caring a great deal about the Bilderbergers as de facto evidence of mental illness.
Jun. 8th, 2008 09:00 pm (UTC)
Pithy, yet frightfully trusting of people and agendas I categorically distrust.

Considering the grave importance to the public of the subjects discussed and the people present at the meetings, it would be logical – if for no other reason that to discourage paranoid theories – not to keep the meetings so private (or secret, if you prefer), and not to hold them behind closed doors in super-secure locations surrounded by armed guards, far from the prying eyes of journalists and the curious. If they have nothing to hide, why are they hiding? (link)

I wouldn't say I "care a great deal" about them, but I think it irrational to think they're getting together to chat about anything helpful.
Jun. 8th, 2008 09:43 pm (UTC)
*shrug* It's not like their agendas are terribly secretive. Or like they don't spend more time on the phone with each other and otherwise communicating with each other the rest of the year than they do in a face to face weekend. Or like they don't all read, and take their consensus from, the same policy analysis journals.

It's a club. That's all it is. A place where they can talk completely off the record and trust that nobody there is going to leak what they said to the press, thereby giving them a place to hash out half-baked ideas and get them shot down by their peers (if necessary) without looking stupid or getting held to their every trial balloon. If they didn't have that, the world would be run even more stupidly than it is.
Jun. 9th, 2008 12:38 am (UTC)
Again, you have an amazing degree of trust in people I recognize as unrepentant scoundrels. When they gather, it isn't to make the world a happier place.
Jun. 9th, 2008 12:59 am (UTC)
No, it isn't. But it isn't to do anything they don't do the other 362 days of the year, either, is my point.
Jun. 8th, 2008 06:51 pm (UTC)
As with many aspects of our electoral system, this makes no sense to me. Maybe it's just one of those "weird, American politics" things.

What drives me nuts right now are the Democrats who say they're either going to vote for McCain or stay home because Clinton lost. What kind of Democrat does that? Sure, let's just shoot the country in the foot (again) because the woman lost to the black man.

Jun. 8th, 2008 09:36 pm (UTC)
When she got to the point in her last-Tuesday-night speech where she said, "We have learned an important lesson in this campaign, and that is ..." I finished it for her, MST3K style: "... that Barack Obama is still not white." I saw a poll result this morning claiming that 20% of all Democrats over age 44 admit, in private, that they would never vote for a black candidate for President. As one of Newsweek's reporters said, looking at the election results map, Barack Obama doesn't have a problem with white voters, he has a problem with white Appalachian voters. White voters in states that have almost no black people in them voted for Barack Obama. White voters in states where there are lots of black people in them voted for Barack Obama. White voters in states where there is a visible but small minority of black people in them voted for Hillary Clinton, showing us who, and where, exactly they haven't gotten over it.

The potential reason that's closer to a good reason is that if you're a "centrist" pro-corporation, pro-wealthy Democrat, and if protecting tax cuts for the wealthy is more important to you than your actual Democratic beliefs because you still believe (all evidence to the contrary) that those tax cuts create jobs, then John McCain is closer to your political views than Barack Obama is.
Jun. 8th, 2008 11:10 pm (UTC)
How could anyone possibly believe those tax cuts for the wealthy added jobs when we've seen thousands of jobs lost over the past seven years?
Jun. 9th, 2008 12:39 am (UTC)
By claiming that it would have been worse if we hadn't had them? D'uh.
Jun. 9th, 2008 11:57 pm (UTC)
Because they have just enough shame to know that "Because I don't want to pay my taxes" isn't a good argument, yet not enough shame to buy a gun and put it to their own heads.
Jun. 8th, 2008 08:17 pm (UTC)
Caveat: I don't know anything about the Clinton's finances, so this may or may not apply to them, specifically. This said:

Most wealthy people in America leverage their wealth by taking out loans against their assets. Also, a lot of this wealth is in illiquid assets, like real estate or art or businesses. To get the value of someone's estate or balance sheet, you take the appraised value of those assets and subtract the value of the loans.

The value of the loans is fixed and basically "true" -- that's what they're really worth at the liquid level.

The value of the assets is a fantasy number. It's based on some version of reality at some point in time, but one thing it isn't is "the value of those assets if you had to liquidate them today."

If the Clintons have their money in publicly-traded stocks, bonds, and money market accounts, liquidating 30 million isn't a big deal. If they've got it in real estate and art or other items not easily appraised or sold, liquidating it under pressure from creditors could easily result in bankruptcy. That probably wouldn't happen -- banks don't like making their borrowers file for bankruptcy because it means they don't get paid in full. They usually prefer to give extensions or restructure for an orderly sell-off. If the Clintons' income remains stable, they're probably fine. I dunno that it'll remain stable; speeches and book deals require a certain degree of momentum and consumer appetite, which may be waning. After all, she wasn't popular enough to get the nomination.

All of which is not to say "so donate to her". I sure wouldn't. >:)
Jun. 9th, 2008 01:34 am (UTC)
People here have argued that the law forbids Sen. Clinton from "donating" that much money to "herself". If so, I'm not sure why President Obama can't pardon her. The creditors would certainly have no objection, and she wouldn't exactly get off scot free.
Jun. 9th, 2008 02:36 pm (UTC)
If they have income of 10 million then surely they could just live on, well, *rather a lot less than 10 million* and pay off the loan bit by bit - like everyone else does when they have big loans to pay off.

I'm sure if I had 10 million a year I could get a loan for 30 million; although it'd probably need to be secured on real estate or other valuables. 3* income isn't an unreasonable mortgage.
Jun. 8th, 2008 09:06 pm (UTC)
I'm with you, let Hillary eat her cake.
Jun. 9th, 2008 03:53 pm (UTC)
I've been baffled by that for a few days as well.
Jun. 10th, 2008 12:07 am (UTC)
I can explain this motion in three words:

"Because she can."

Now, having said that, just because some CAN do something, does not make it right or prudent that they do so.

For all of me, she put herself out there, fought hard, and LOST. Poker taught me that if you can't lose that money, don't bring it to the table.

What baffles me is her media coverage though. She was all over the media, all the time. Was that her press agent? Were the media more interested in the woman running than the black man? Was the media coverage helping her or hurting her? I am not sure. I can't help but think that all the media coverage about her finances did not really help her, because after a while, I never heard about her issues.

So help me though. If the Democrats lose this presidential election, I may start looking for housing in Canada with you.
Jun. 10th, 2008 10:34 pm (UTC)
I will mention
that at no time was Hillary a guaranteed statistical loser. At any time (and even as of this typing, before the Democratic national convention) the superdelegates could have chosen Hillary over Obama and indeed that final decision won't be made for sure until that date. All that would have had to happen is that Hillary get about 200 more superdelegate votes than Obama.

It might have been stupid, it might have been foolish, it might have been evil for members of that elect group to choose that way, or it might have just been politics. And they retain that option up until the date of the vote in case, say, Tony Rezko turns state's evidence on Obama.
Jun. 10th, 2008 11:10 pm (UTC)
Re: I will mention
At the point where her loans began ballooning beyond the initial $5M, these were the numbers: in order to win the nomination, she would have to have won every single primary, even in states in which Obama by that time had an unbeatable lead, by 20% or more, and she would have had to almost completely sweep the super-delegates. There was no reason to think that she could do this; she had won almost no states by that kind of margin, and the super-delegates were already making it clear they weren't going to flock to her banner en masse. That left her with the Mark Penn strategy: sabotage the party's clear nominee so badly, by throwing every ounce of mud and every slur they could come up with, that in a floor fight at the convention enough of his delegates would defect to her that she would get the nomination, and then hope that the Republicans continued to self-destruct long enough that even after all that damage to the party, she would still win.

To that end, she bet another almost $30 million of her own money that she could do all of the above, and (thankfully) lost. And now she wants us to cover her bets for her. Typical right-wing Democrat: rich people gamble; if they win, they keep their winnings, and if they lose, the poor cover their losses.
Jun. 26th, 2008 05:37 pm (UTC)
Yeah - My thoughts were pretty simliar.
( 37 comments — Leave a comment )