Hillary Defends Possible Straw Donor Cash With Disingenuous Straw Man Argument
Judging by Hillary's refusal to return the hundreds of thousands in Hsu-tainted funds that she raked in through her Senate campaign and HillPAC, and now her insistence that she'll keep (and keep on keeping) the questionably princely sums that are pouring out of low income, possibly non-existent Chinatown residents, one has to presume that she's decided the scandal has finally hit that magical Clintonian critical complexity, beyond which neither the public's attention span nor the media's already mild appetite for Democrat-damaging stories will hold her to any kind of reasonable standard of conduct.
She took advantage of the controversy's complexity this weekend in a defiant speech that addressed not the impropriety of keeping questionable funds, without so much of a second look even after serious questions were raised about the legality of those contributions, but the non-issue of the propriety of accepting donations from first-generation Americans.
A defiant Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton says she has no intention of curtailing her fundraising in the Chinese community despite reports that she accepted cash from dozens of questionable donors in Chinatown earlier this year.
“I represent New York and New York is a symbol of the success of immigrants coming to America,” the senator told reporters Saturday after addressing supporters at the Oak Park Elementary School in Des Moines.
“I am pleased to have a lot of first-generation American support as well as people who have been longtime involved in the political process … I’m going to keep reaching out to everybody in our country. I want to be a president to everybody.”
Earlier this year, Clinton returned about $7,000 of about $380,000 raised during a fundraiser that targeted donors from China’s east coast after campaign officials raised red flags about the donors. It’s not clear whether other refunds will be issued.
It's a good try. And possibly shrewd, in a wholly deceitful way. Hillary's disingneuous straw man argument may work if people are losing enough of the plot to swallow the idea that what she's being assailed for is accepting donations from hard-working immigrants. That, she can spin into an "I'll champion the underdogs, no matter how much they the establishment tries to stop me!" cry. But of course that's not what's at issue.
As with the Norman Hsu scandal (which I suspect can be tied to the Chinatown situation at some level), the problem here is one of significant irregularities among Clinton's donors, specifically an apparent financial inability of many of the tightly clustered contributors to afford such largesse. In the Hsu case, the tainted funds came from two sources - alleged straw donors who were reimbursed by Hsu and investors in the New York and Orange County investment funds who were pressured by Hsu to contribute to Clinton in order to participate in what they thought were legitimate business deals.
The specifics of the peculiar Chinatown donations have yet to come into focus, but based on the L.A. Times' investigation and follow-up by the New York Post, the contributors in question either cannot be found (sometimes because their addresses don't exist), hold minimum wage jobs that typically wouldn't support 4-figure political contributions, are not registered to vote, and/or specifically admitted they had been reimbursed for their donations.
The Chinatown cluster involves some 150 donors, suggesting it represents a sophisticated, large-scale, coordinated effort to circumvent federal election laws. As in the Hsu case, the implications here are severe enough to warrant a more mature response from the Clinton campaign than a dishonest dismissal of the problem as one of ethnic intolerance.
"We do not ethnically profile donors," growled [campaign spokesman] Howard Wolfson. "Asian-Americans in Chinatown and Flushing have the same right to contribute as every other American."
Agreed. Just as they're subject to the same prohibitions from violating election laws as every other American.
If, as appears to be the case, Hillary has made the decision to bank on the scandal's complexity to save her not only from having to answer for these ubiquitous irregularities, but even from having to return the tainted funds, she may be in for a surprise. The public's Clinton scandal stamina may not have improved, but as the sordid details and immense scope of Hillary's fundraising problems continue to unfold, more and more mainstream media outlets are taking an interest.
Surely, she could wriggle out of almost any underlying impropriety, but overt denials, dismissals, and failures to address the irregularities as they splash across the front pages (i.e. precisely what we're seeing now in the Chinatown brush-off and the sloppy and incomplete Hsu refunds) may make for a stickier mess.
Hillary says she wants to be "President to everybody." She can start by showing everybody that she's dependable and conscientious enough to deal responsibly with serious issues when they present themselves, not sweep them under the rug or shrug them off as the product of the prejudices of others.
Handcrafted by Flip on October 22, 2007 |
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