Buy This President

THERE IS A certain amount of hypocrisy in some of the expressions of outrage over the Washington Post's revelations that the Chinese embassy was involved in channeling campaign cash to the Clinton fundraising machine. After all, the U.S. has been involved in manipulating other countries' choice of governments for a very long time. Cast your eyes down the history of just the last 30 years: Using sometimes direct military intervention, sometimes covert organization and support of coups, we removed Iran's Mossadegh, Guatemala's Arbenz, the Dominican Republic's Bosch, and Chile's Allende to name but a few. Our pernicious interventions were not confined to the banana republics in our hemisphere or to the broader Third World. Working through the AFL-CIO's Jay Lovestone and Irving Brown, the CIA funneled huge amounts of money to prevent electoral victories by the left during the '40s, '50s, and '60s in European democracies like France and Italy.

In the 1970s, America helped the Greek Colonels come to power, and the CIA-NATO Operation Gladio used neo-fascist elements of the military and intelligence communities in Italy and a dozen other Western European countries to undermine the left. Our spooks helped their British counterparts to destabilize Harold Wilson's Labor government. In our day, Clinton's overt campaigning for Boris Yeltsin--from the infamous "chickens for Chechens" deal to the sending of a team of election specialists headed by Dick Morris's polling partner, Dick Dresner--became an issue in Russia's elections, and U.S. taxpayer dollars are currently flowing to the anti-Milosevic forces in Serbia.

Recall, too, that Clinton's coddling of Beijing's butchers for the benefit of greedy multinationals has enriched corporate elites but not the United States. China has now surpassed Japan as the nation with which we have the largest annual trade deficit.

More instructive as to the essence of Clintonism than the machinations of the Chinese Embassy, however, is the weekend story about Hillary's fundraising trip to Guam, where she collected $900,000 for Bill's re-election from this American colony, whose citizens cannot vote in U.S. elections. (That sum, incidentally, works out to $6 a head for each citizen of Guam.) The Guamian donors wanted autonomy to set their own immigration and labor laws, and they got it. This means that multinationals will now be able to bring in foreign workers and pay them slave wages--and yet still be able to stamp their products "Made in the U.S.A."

The Guam money helped to pay for the $15 million worth of early TV spots for Clinton that began in July 1995, a time when the Democratic National Committee was broke. In Sunday's New York Post, muckraking liberal columnist Jack Newfield interviewed one of the participants in a May 1995 White House meeting of Clinton and his campaign strategists at which the decision to raise the $15 million was made. "The number came from the president himself," relates Newfield's anonymous informant. "The president was incredibly intense about the need to raise all this money fast and early. That's what created all the pressure on the fundraisers. That's what caused people to start cutting corners...

"This soft money was used for Clinton commercials... that was unethical. Money was raised on federal property, from the White House, from Air Force One, and this was against the law. Where do you go for so much soft money? We went to the Asian clients of Clinton's Arkansas friends, we went to dirty unions like the Laborers International, to bankers with regulatory problems. We went to shady hustlers who were willing to pay $400,000 to get their picture taken with the president so they could con people about their White House access and influence."

Based on this insider's account, Newfield labels the meeting "the shameful day Bill sold his soul." That misses the point: As a lengthy investigative piece on Clinton's Little Rock cronies in last Friday's New York Times put it, "The way in which Mr. Clinton raised money to stay in power as president is not very different from the way he raised money to remain governor of Arkansas."

As we have tried to point out in these pages, the Clintons have been selling pieces of themselves and their governance for 20 years, in the process betraying the real interests of the working Americans who were their core constituency. By the time they got to the White House, they had no soul left to sell.

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