Toronto Dominion is a Canadian bank which also operates south of the border under the amusing name of "TD - America's Most Convenient BankÂ®". It's certainly proved remarkably convenient for Bill Clinton. TD has paid millions to the future first First Gentleman of the United States, during his wife's tenure as Secretary of State and in her ongoing role as designated President-in-Waiting.
What exactly are they paying for? Speeches? He's less dull a public speaker than the average politician, or average former president (Gerald Ford, say). But nothing he says would seem to merit, for example, the $525,000 TD paid Bill in one 24-hour period alone, which convenience-wise is about as good as it gets. So again: what exactly are TD getting for their shareholders by putting all this money in the Clintons' pockets?
I've nothing against top stars or even lowly fellows like myself seeking top dollar for live appearances, but there is something unseemly about a former president pimping himself out to Gulf emirs and Saudi princes and even Canadian bankers for six-figure sums night after night. Hitherto, it has never been necessary explicitly to prohibit such conduct because it would have never occurred to, oh, Harry Truman to carry on like this.
~But don't worry, when it comes to her own robotic speeches, Mrs Clinton gives all her $225,000 checks from state universities to charity. So that's okay. Oh, by the way, any charity in particular?
"All of the fees have been donated to the Clinton Foundation for it to continue its life-changing and life-saving work," she told ABC News. "So it goes from a foundation at a university to another foundation."
The Clinton Foundation is a euphemism for the Clinton Machine. The life it's intended to change is that of Hillary, replacing the honorific "Madam Secretary" with "Madam President". In 2011, the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation spent $12.1 million on travel, which, when you consider how much of their travel is paid for by TD Bank, the Emir of Dubai and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas is kind of impressive.
~I have minimal expectations of the 2016 election, but in my wildest fantasies I dream of a regular bloke moving into the White House. As a child, I had always heard that "in America anyone can grow up to be president", but by the time I got here the choice had apparently narrowed to rich legacy nominees or obvious hucksters with a pronounced malodorousness. By "regular bloke", I'm thinking of someone like Australia's Tony Abbott, who flies coach even as prime minister.
Why is such a figure all but entirely lost to the upper echelons of American politics? By way of an interview with my compatriot F H Buckley, the libertarian lads over at Reason are pondering whether the presidency is "degenerating into the 'elective monarchy' George Mason warned about at the Philadelphia convention":
Prime ministers are "more likely to be figures of fun...or the butt of slanging matches during Question Period in the House of Commons." Indeed, the parliamentary practice of Prime Minister's Questions, in which the chief executive is regularly and ruthlessly grilled by the opposition, goes a long way toward explaining why there's no such thing as the Cult of the Prime Minister.
Presidents can isolate themselves in a cocoon of sycophants, even putting protesters in "Free-Speech Zones," where their signs can't offend the liege. And his role as head of state "tends to make criticism of a president seem like lese-majeste"â€”as Justice Samuel Alito learned when he dared mouth the words "not true" while Obama pummelled the Court in his 2010 State of the Union.
~Speaking of lĂ¨se-majestĂ©, even when our sovereign liege lord is not present, it is improper to disrespect him. For example, Friday's Fourth of July parade in Norfolk, Nebraska included a float with a wooden outhouse labeled "Obama Presidential Library". According to the gentlemen of the press, the float has "drawn criticism". I should certainly hope so. I assumed that the criticism it had drawn would be from freeborn citizens hoping for something a little less generic and anodyne in the way of Presidential mockery.
But no, the court eunuchs of the media are huffin' an' a-puffin' about how this time the Obama-haters have gone too far:
Norfolk City Councilman Dick Pfeil told the Omaha World-Herald that he was unhappy with the float, and he wanted to make clear the city had not approved it.
Because nothing better exemplifies the spirit of Independence Day than having your float approved by the government.