Thursday, December 20, 2007

Defining Hillary's "foreign policy experience"

As a rule, I'm not much into playing the primary games. Personally, none of them do much for me... either side of the aisle. But occasionally there are some real head scratchers that crop up in the plethora of candidate news scandals.... after all, isn't everything a scandal nowadays?

Such a moment comes to me today as AP writer, Nedra Pickler, reports
Hillary's boasting of superior experience in foreign policy over her rivals today.

"It is tempting any time things seem quieter for a minute on the international front to think that we don't need a president who is up to speed on foreign affairs and military matters," Clinton said.

"Well, that's the kind of logic that got us George Bush in the first place," she said to laughter from her friendly audience at a high school auditorium. "Experience in foreign affairs is critical for ending the war in Iraq, averting war in Iran, negotiating a Middle East peace and dealing with North Korea."

Quite the mantra, considering that her co-presidency with hubby, Bill, yielded N. Korean negotiations that did little but veil their continued proliferation of their nuclear programmes - some of which ended up in Syria and was recently bombed out of existence by the Israelis. Then, of course, the Clintonian slashes of the 90s in the intel budgets didn't do much to help us sniff out that 911 was enroute. I'd say that effectively renders the "preventing war with Iran" or anyone as null and voice. And the Palestinian/Israeli pow wows with Arafat were little more than a joke. But let's not digress with historical truths.

However Hillary is correct... she certainly has foreign policy experience as it relates to donations for both her campaign and the Clinton Presidential Foundation. However the heavily denied quid pro quo for donations in exchange for policy considerations may not be the kind of "experience" voters have in mind.

Source for this data... caveat here... is a New York Times article, believe it or not, titled
In Charity and Politics, Clinton Donors Overlap. Some excerpts below to document Ms. Clinton's "foreign policy experience".

As the scope of the foundation expanded from the Clinton library into issues like treating AIDS in the developing world and addressing global poverty and climate change, and Mrs. Clinton moved closer to announcing her candidacy, the pace of giving quickened. Last year, contributions reached $135 million, a 70 percent increase over the previous year. Two-thirds came from just 11 donors.

In a separate written response from Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, a spokesman, Phil Singer, said, “Senator Clinton is not involved in the fund-raising or operations of the Clinton Foundation.” Mr. Singer noted that President Clinton’s promise to disclose future donors should his wife become president went beyond what the law required.


At a Democratic debate in September, when Mrs. Clinton was asked whether the foundation would disclose its donors, she indicated that the decision was not hers. “Well, you’ll have to ask them,” she replied, referring to the former president and his staff.

But Mrs. Clinton’s effort to distance herself understates the extent to which the foundation was a joint enterprise from the start.

Shortly after the Clintons left the White House, close advisers convened meetings at the couple’s Washington home to map out Mr. Clinton’s future as a philanthropist.

Mrs. Clinton played an important role in shaping both the foundation’s organization and the scope of its work, said Karen A. Tramontano, a senior adviser in the Clinton White House and the foundation’s first chief of staff.

Advisers also were acutely aware that the foundation’s operations — and any perception of a conflict — could harm Mrs. Clinton politically. “She and I would speak frequently,” Ms. Tramontano said. “She had a lot of ideas. All the papers that went to him went to her.”

So much for plausible deniability.... The words "willing suspension of disbelief" comes to mind. Some of the donations that carry the distinct aroma of quid pro quo?

The $31.3 million donation, which was previously undisclosed, came from the Radcliffe Foundation run by Frank Giustra, a Canadian who has made millions financing mining deals around the world. Mr. Giustra has become a member of Mr. Clinton’s inner circle, joining him on global trips and lending him the use of his private MD-87 jet.

For weeks, Clinton Foundation officials had suggested that the $31.3 million contribution listed on its tax return did not come from a single donor. They then said it came from a single source, but declined to identify it. Wednesday afternoon, a representative of Mr. Giustra contacted The Times and acknowledged the Radcliffe contribution.

This year,
Mr. Giustra announced separate plans to give the Clinton Foundation $100 million, plus half of his future earnings from natural resource business ventures, for a joint project to spur economic growth in poor Latin American mining communities. (Mata Musing: think any of those ventures might benefit from future policies by Congress, prodded by a President Clinton??)

Taken together, the contributions make Mr. Giustra one of the foundation’s largest benefactors, if not the single largest.


On October 6, 1999, the charitable arm of the Anheuser-Busch Companies gave $200,000, the first of five payments over five years totaling $1 million, according to records filed by the company’s foundation. Less than a month earlier, the company, the country’s leading beer maker, had scored a major victory when the Clinton administration’s Federal Trade Commission dropped a bid to regulate beer, wine and liquor advertising that critics said was aimed at under-age drinkers.


Bernard L. Schwartz, another major Democratic contributor who was then chief executive of Loral Space and Communications, gave $250,000 and pledged $750,000 more in 2000. At the time, investigators were trying to determine if Loral had improperly provided satellite technology to China. Under the Bush administration, Loral agreed to pay a civil fine of $14 million to settle the case. Mr. Schwartz, who is now also a Hillraiser, said that his donations were unconnected to Loral’s troubles and added that he had contributed to other presidential libraries.


Early on, donations to the library caused perception problems. The day after he left office, Mr. Clinton was embroiled in a scandal over his 11th-hour pardon of the financier Marc Rich, who fled the United States in 1983 to avoid tax evasion and other charges. A Congressional hearing later revealed that the pardon came after Mr. Rich’s former wife, Denise Rich, contributed $450,000 to Mr. Clinton’s library.


Beyond the revelation of the Rich donation, the names of some other donors emerged after the library opened in November 2004, when a New York Sun reporter found a partial contributor list displayed on a public computer there. The list, with neither amounts nor dates, disclosed donations from the Saudi royal family and other foreign sources. After the Sun story, the computer plug was pulled.

One has to hand it to the family from Little Rock... they've certainly worked the system adeptly, putting them into the extraordinarily high income brackets ... along with the political clout the couple wields.

However the quid pro quo foreign (and) policy experience offered by Hillary is far from a "change" in the beltway that we who are disgusted with Congressional antics crave. And the distrust by voters for the Clinton family may well be their undoing in their quest for a third WH term. Only time will tell.

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