Traverse City Record-Eagle


July 1, 2014

Appearances do matter

WASHINGTON — Dear Secretary Clinton,

Please consider this in the nature of a friendly intervention. You have a money problem. It’s time to deal with it before it gets worse.

Actually, you have two money problems. The first is how you talk about it. The second is how you collect it — or, to be more precise, the fact that you’re still frenetically collecting it.

Let me be clear at the outset, the issue isn’t that you’re rich, or even that you and your husband became rich after leaving office. American voters don’t have a problem with wealthy candidates or even wealthy ex-presidents and ex-officials.

They have a problem with wealthy candidates who are whiny and/or defensive about their wealth; who are greedy and/or ostentatious in their acquisition and display thereof; or whose wealth makes them, or makes them appear to be, out of touch with the concerns of everyday people. Your difficulties, at the moment anyway, appear to be chiefly in the first two categories: defensiveness and greed.

These categories parallel my suggestion of twin money problems — talk and action. You must stop answering money questions in a way that makes matters worse!

Anyone, especially anyone who’s a little rusty on the interview circuit, can be forgiven for a single flub, as when you answered Diane Sawyer’s question about your family’s wealth by explaining that your family was “dead broke” when you left the White House, that your family “struggled to piece together the resources for mortgages for houses” — houses! — and that giving paid speeches was, anyway, less unseemly than signing up with a single firm.

You cleaned that up — but then you stepped in it again, during an interview with The Guardian, when asked how you could be a credible voice on income inequality.

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