Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Is Clinton buyout weird, or politics as usual

Last night and today there have been discussions in the media about the possibility of Hillary Clinton negotiating a buyout in order to step out of the race. As it was discussed in various print and broadcast venues, the Obama campaign would take over the the Clinton campaign debt including repaying Hillary and Bill the apparent $11.4 million that they have lent the campaign out of the $109 million net worth amassed since Bill left office. In addition the Obama campaign would accept some Clinton workers into the national campaign, praise Hillary, and give both Hillary and Bill major roles at the Democratic convention. All speculation maybe, but even as speculation does anyone think that this is a bit strange.

What is this, a banana republic election, a corporate takeover, did I hear all of this correctly. My first thought as I listened was the election in Nicaragua over a year ago when Daniel Ortega agreed to buy the support of his predecessor and former opponent by agreeing to let him keep the spoils of his corruption and not prosecute him for any of his significant fraud and malfeasance. With the support of the protected "leader's" legislators, Ortega then won the job with just 37% of the popular vote and Jimmy Carter was hauled down to bless the fairness of the election. Now this is completely different but that's the first thought that came to mind. Then as the discussions kept developing the corporate takeover model came to mind. Well-performing company X wants to takeover underperforming company Y. Company Y's CEO won't agree until, of course, he/she receives a huge payout, unrestricted use of a company plane for five years, office, secretary, car and driver for life, and a pension that is adjusted for the length of time the poor CEO would have been with the company if he had been a good leader. Company X would also agree to tolerate a few of Y CEO's favorites in key positions and shower them with gifts as well if it didn't work out.

Is it naive to think that this proposed buyout of Clinton is not just politics as usual? What is the precedent? There may be many that have not been so openly discussed, but how cynical have we become to discuss this as just a routine political event? If there is truth in this, how humiliating is it for Obama to have the Clinton pair trash him for the last six months on their own dime and then be forced by political negotiation to repay them for the gesture. How crude is it of the Clinton's to expect this, especially given that(non sequitur coming) much of this money has been accumulated through Bill's exploitation of the presidential imprimatur with hedge fund managers and foreign governments. Does anyone have a problem with this buyout idea?

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