Hillary Clinton has been charged by her critics with so many crimes, so many bad decisions and so many shady associations that after 40 years of intense investigations by hostile prosecutors, it’s a wonder she’s allowed to wear pants suits instead of sackcloth and ashes. The latest “scandal” concerns the non-profit charitable organization established by the Clintons. Even detractors admit the foundation has done much good around the world. Mind boggling to some, however, is that this charity, likes others, seeks out wealthy donors. If Hillary is observed talking with Melinda Gates, is that suspicious? How about speaking with a wealthy oil man? More suspicion? (Click)
Sadly, the number of powerful and well-heeled people in this world is small. The 1%s tend to gather in places where they rub elbows. What’s more, they tend to want an audience and possibly a favor. It’s true. Even in my little pond where I held elective office, important people sought favors, though they knew better. Want to know what real diplomacy is? It’s the art of appeasing important people without giving them favors. It isn’t easy. Even more difficult is avoiding the appearance of wrong doing just by being seen with a generous contributor. As they say in politics, ”appearance is reality.”
Frankly, that truism is trash. What it means is if the public gets the wrong idea about something, it takes heaven and hell to set them right. Many people prefer to think the worst of their leaders. That willful ignorance isn’t okay, especially not in a democracy where we expect our politicians to be accessible. Accessibility, believe it or not, includes the rich as well as the poor, especially because the rich have the power to make change.
Despite the obvious fact that public figures are, well, public figures, Jeet Heer’s recent article about Hillary Clinton accuses her of being too accessible. He jeers at her ability to work with Newt Gingrich, John McCain and Sam Brownbeck while in the Senate. He mocks her ability to make peace with her harshest critics, especially those who prosecuted her while her husband was in office. Surely, Heer concludes, someone that malleable can’t be trusted. (“The Magic of Silly Putty,” by Jeet Heer, New Republic, September 2016 pgs. 14-15.) Clinton’s ability to work with people of diverse political views makes her guilty of “pragmatic politics.” (Ibid pg. 15)
If fomenting peace and learning to work with adversaries is a pragmatic trap, the world needs more of them. The ability to achieve progress when no consensus exists is a gift. For my money, the planet needs decision makers with less ego not more. I don’t know why I think that. Maybe it’s a woman thing.