This has been making the rounds, and it should. Hillary Clinton recently spoke before a group of “major investors” — a “few hundred” Wall Street big-money denizens, according to the report — invited by Goldman Sachs executives to a gathering at the Conrad Hotel in downtown Manhattan.
Politico covered the meeting, Clinton’s speech (based on reports, not reporter attendance), and the general subject of Wall Street bankers and their relationship with politicians these days. It’s a major piece and I invite you to read it through.
My focus is on Hillary Clinton herself, however, her need for fundraising if she’s going to run in 2016, and her relationship to the scruffy Dems who form the newly-named “Elizabeth Warren wing” of the party.
Here’s what Politico said Clinton said to some of the wealthiest political donors in America, along with a few of Politicos other comments. Wall Street, be not afraid:
Lament of the Plutocrats
On a recent afternoon, executives at Goldman Sachs invited a few hundred major investors to the Conrad Hotel in lower Manhattan. The bankers and their guests filed into a large room and turned their eyes to Hillary Clinton.
Ordinarily these masters of the universe might have groaned at the idea of a politician taking the microphone. In the contentious years since the crash of 2008, they’ve grown wearily accustomed to being called names—labeled “fat cats“ by President Obama and worse by those on the left—and gotten used to being largely shunned by Tea Party Republicans for their association with the Washington establishment. And of course there are all those infuriating new rules and regulations, culminating this week with the imposition of the so-called Volcker Rule to make risky trades by big banks illegal.
But Clinton offered a message that the collected plutocrats found reassuring, according to accounts offered by several attendees, declaring that the banker-bashing so popular within both political parties was unproductive and indeed foolish. Striking a soothing note on the global financial crisis, she told the audience, in effect: We all got into this mess together, and we’re all going to have to work together to get out of it. What the bankers heard her to say was just what they would hope for from a prospective presidential candidate: Beating up the finance industry isn’t going to improve the economy—it needs to stop. And indeed Goldman’s Tim O’Neill, who heads the bank’s asset management business, introduced Clinton by saying how courageous she was for speaking at the bank. (Brave, perhaps, but also well-compensated: Clinton’s minimum fee for paid remarks is $200,000).
So there you go. What the writer thinks the bankers heard — meaning, what the banker who talked to the writer thought s/he heard — was: “I think going easy on you good souls is the right thing to do. I’m not like some other people. Lean forward, say I; that pesky past is so yesterday.”
A few takeaways, and then I’ll let you enjoy your Seasonal fun:
▪ They paid her to say that. Minimum take: $200,000 for the afternoon. That means she’s in the club. What club is that, you ask? The club of people who make millions doing things for people who are worth billions.
Your model for that is the NFL or the NBA — millionaire athlete-employees of billionaire owners — except in this case, Clinton is a free-lancer. Her money is reported on a 1099-MISC instead of a W-2. Crucial difference, at least for tax purposes.
▪ She didn’t take their money and disappoint. See how easy it is to get along? I should try it her way sometime.
▪ If she runs in 2016, she going to need more than $1,000,000,000 — that’s one billion dollars in words, if the zeros dazzled you. Where better than from billionaires to get a billion dollars?
▪ The crucial question — Has Hillary Clinton just declared she’s no friend of the “Elizabeth Warren wing” of her party? She didn’t make this speech in public. Will her public speeches be at odds with this one? If they are, will anyone — including MSNBC — notice?
▪ And the crucial leap — Was this an “ask,” a deal memo, an offer letter from Clinton to the East Coast billionaires? Only the one who sees hearts and intentions knows for sure, but the rest of us aren’t all that stupid, all that far behind, when the jigsaw puzzle pieces fall so neatly into place.
With that, I’ll leave you to your thoughts, and ask you to keep this in mind, when and if the public “I’m just as left as that Warren person” ad campaign starts up.
Happy Season all. Light posting from now until the end of the year.
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