We once believed that successful politicians made sacrifices for us, that when they chose public service it meant tight finances for most of them. No longer. They get fame through being in the public eye, and then cash in. When they're the center of their own financial universe, they find it difficult to see the rest of us, moving like ants in the streets outside the darkly shaded windows of their limousines. Modern leaders make an investment in politics as a stepping stone to future riches. Since many are relatively young when they hit the exits from the public arena, and if they haven't been eaten alive by scandal (or sometimes even if they have), they can expect a second life as lobbyists, consultants and expensive speechifiers with stories from the inside. Those who grow richest create charitable foundations, which give them the patina of moral superiority and, more important, big salaries for their children, friends and those who helped them get where they are.
Hillary says she remembers being "dead broke" when the first couple left the White House with their bags stuffed with souvenirs. "Dead broke" included Bubba's $200,000 pension, and soon they were born again with greater earning ability, leading to collecting $163 million between 2001 and 2012. Nice poverty, if you can get it.
Hillary now concedes she was "inartful" in characterizing her finances, but Bubba, as usual, is "artful" enough for both of them, spreading blarney in abundance. In an interview on "Meet the Press," he assures us that Hillary is "the most gifted public servant I've ever worked with," and thought so -- even believed -- this after he asked her to marry him and she first said no. (How cute.)
"It is factually true that we were several million dollars in debt," he says. "Everybody now assumes that what happened in the intervening years was automatic; I'm shocked that it's happened. I'm shocked that people still want me to come give talks."
Bubba is as shocked as Captain Renault discovering gambling in the back room at Rick's Cafe Americain in "Casablanca." Bubba can get away with sizzling hyperbole that's too hot for Hillary to handle. He has the glib gab of the smooth-talking womanizer who seduces the public as easily as he seduces an intern. Besides, memories are short. Hillary reminds him that half the people asking questions couldn't even vote when he was doing those things that are in question.