Monday, January 12, 2009

Banana Republic Foreign Minister

Christopher Hitchens is attacking the Clintons again. In Slate Magazine today, he underlines the huge conflict of interest with the donor list to the Clinton Foundation and Mrs. Clinton's ability to do her job if her appointment as Secretary of State passes Congress: (here)

The deal struck by the wide-eyed incoming Obama administration is that the list of donors to the Clinton Foundation will be reviewed once every year and that only the new donations from foreign states—which already include an extraordinarily large number from Gulf sheikdoms—will be scrutinized by administration lawyers. How would we react if we read that this was the rule for the Vladimir Putin government, say, or former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's regime in Germany? Before me, for example, is the report of a pledge of $100 million to the Clinton foundation's Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative by a set of companies based in Vancouver and known as the Lundin Group. The ostensible purpose of this mind-boggling contribution is stated in the usual vacuous terms of "sustainable local economies," chiefly in Africa. All I know for sure about the Lundin Group is that it does quite a lot of business in Sudan. And all I can think to ask—as perhaps some senator might think to ask—is why such a big corporate interest doesn't just donate the money directly, rather than distributing it through the offices of an outfit run by a seasoned ex-presidential influence-peddler. What do they and the other donors suppose they are getting for their money? A good feeling?

That was another no-brainer question I just asked. So let me stop insulting you, dear reader, and pose a question to which we do not have any obvious answer. Why is Sen. Clinton, the spouse of the great influence-peddler, being nominated in the first place? In exchange for giving the painful impression that our State Department will be an attractive destination for lobbyists and donors, what exactly are we getting? George Marshall? Dean Acheson? Even Madeleine Albright? No, we are getting a notoriously ambitious woman who made a fool of herself over Bosnia, at the time and during the recent campaign, and who otherwise has no command of foreign affairs except what she's picked up second-hand from an impeached ex-president, a disbarred lawyer, and a renter of the Lincoln Bedroom. If the Senate waves this through, it will have reinforced its recent image as the rubber-stamp chamber of a bankrupt banana republic. Not an especially good start to the brave new era.

This is a theme that Hitchens has been writing about lately, how utterly sordid Washington has become. It's not that there wasn't always corruption, there was, it just seems that in the last 6-12 months is nothing like we've seen in history.

1 comment:

  1. Hichens is crazy. He hates Mother Teresa!