When you’ve lost Chuck Todd, you’ve lost them all, Hil.
Yesterday, Kemberlee Kaye covered the New York Times’ nuclear bomb of a story about the Clinton Foundation’s alleged status as a go between for a US-Russia uranium transfer. (Read the whole thing for background.) The piece went viral, candidates and pundits had a field day, and then…the unthinkable happened.
NBC News’ Chuck Todd officially gave the Clinton establishment the sideeye.
Transcript via Real Clear Politics:
Look, for the life of me, and this is just political judgment, the Obama administration when they offered her the job looked at the [Clinton] Foundation and said, boy, there will be the appearance of influence. We better be careful here.
[Former Senator] Dick Lugar, at the time, ranking member of the [Senate] Foreign Relations [Committee], even said very publicly, you know, it’s going to look like foreign governments can buy access to you because of the foundation. How many more warnings did the Clintons need to have and yet they ended up doing these things. Look, I hear what David [Axelrod] is saying, and clearly he is right. There is not proof, it’s sort of circumstantial scandal.
This scandal isn’t just weeks or months in the making—it’s years in the making. The fact that the Obama administration flipped on the green light for Hillary Clinton highlights a systemic problem with the political culture surrounding the Clintons. They’ve managed to make themselves appear to be so bulletproof as to make the President of the United States feel comfortable with getting cozy with yet another corrupt politician whose tentacles reach much further than the distance from Capitol Hill to the White House.
The question I have is it’s politically though just dumb and inept. And I guess — somebody I read the other day, I can’t remember who it was, said there is something about the way President Clinton has operated in his post-presidency that’s simply been sloppy. What’s he doing hanging out with the questionable president of Kazakhstan? You know, and taking money to do things like that?
Never underestimate the importance of 1) having political savvy, and 2) employing your political savvy even after your time in the spotlight is over. (I suppose you could argue that the Clintons are and always will be in the spotlight, but once you’re the former president, the thing dims.) Even if for the sake of argument we weren’t dealing with corruption, and instead just a hopelessly stupid pair of wannabe-diplomat/philanthropists, this should still worry the hell out of everyone with a brain. This level of sloppy should be reserved for…the intern cubicle. On behalf of the intern you fire.
I understand he may rationalize it and say, yeah, you know, what we’ll use this money for good, they’re not buying influence from me, I don’t care. But, boy, the appearance of it is terrible. And I kind of think — I’m surprised someone hasn’t come out and said, you know what, no foreign governments for any presidential libraries. Bush libraries have been built by foreign money, Clinton library and foundation by foreign money. The appearance is just too awful.
In this world, appearance is everything. If I’m sitting at the head of a government in Europe or Asia, I’m not going to look kindly on a candidate that bounces around with “questionable” figureheads—and we shouldn’t either. Pulling the “I don’t CARE how it looks” gymnastics routine is a feat usually reserved for the intern you just fired for being sloppy, not a former president and his prodigiously ambitious wife.
Todd may have lobbed up Axelrod’s “circumstantial scandal” talking point, but that doesn’t take away from the overall effect of what he’s saying about the Clinton brand.
The Clinton brand is damaged at a level that even the most skilled crisis manager may not be able to completely salvage. I say “completely” because I don’t expect this to be the nail in the Team Hillary coffin; election season is one big troll on America’s emotional stability, and I won’t be surprised to see international bribery and corruption presented as par for the course when one is such a dedicated advocate for The People©.
All we can do is make sure it doesn’t go away—so that’s what we’ll do.
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