Hillary might want to listen on the Bill issue

The ill-informed partisan rantings of David Vitter probably made Sen. Lugar’s more thoughtful (and helpful) criticisms of the gaps in the Memorandum of Understanding between the Clinton Foundation and the transition team seem less valid and more partisan than they were. The New York Times and Washington Post editorial pages were not, however, swayed by ...

589521_090114_HillaryBill2.jpg
589521_090114_HillaryBill2.jpg

The ill-informed partisan rantings of David Vitter probably made Sen. Lugar's more thoughtful (and helpful) criticisms of the gaps in the Memorandum of Understanding between the Clinton Foundation and the transition team seem less valid and more partisan than they were. The New York Times and Washington Post editorial pages were not, however, swayed by Vitter's failings or Clinton's defenses.

The Post says:

The ill-informed partisan rantings of David Vitter probably made Sen. Lugar’s more thoughtful (and helpful) criticisms of the gaps in the Memorandum of Understanding between the Clinton Foundation and the transition team seem less valid and more partisan than they were. The New York Times and Washington Post editorial pages were not, however, swayed by Vitter’s failings or Clinton’s defenses.

The Post says:

To his credit, Mr. Lugar released a list of improvements that former president Clinton could make to the disclosure agreement. These are eminently sensible: For example, instead of disclosing new foreign contributions only once a year, the foundation would immediately report all gifts of $50,000 or more, and all such donations from foreigners at the time they are pledged. Also, a State Department ethics review would cover all donations above $50,000 from foreign sources — and not just foreign governments. Ms. Clinton would be doing herself, and Mr. Obama, a favor by pressing her husband to accept greater disclosure or, better yet, to suspend foreign fundraising. Otherwise, the questions raised by senators yesterday will haunt her, and her president, throughout their tenure.

The Times agrees:

[Senator Richard Lugar] rightly called for steps to make Mr. Clinton’s fund-raising activities more transparent and to strengthen the oversight process that the former president has agreed to. Mrs. Clinton said the current agreement is “probably as close as we can get.” We strongly endorse Mr. Lugar’s point that the Clintons must do everything possible to err on the side of caution. We urge them to take another look at tightening the oversight procedures.

The difficulty is that, with the Clintons, there never has been — and never will be — any benefit of the doubt given by their detractors. Although Clinton was right to point out that many other secretaries’ spouses have (and are allowed to keep) their jobs, and that the disclosure to which Bill and the foundation have agreed goes above and beyond what is required by law, that doesn’t matter in politics (and Hillary knows that).

Yes, there are loopholes to the current set-up between the foundation and the transition team, and those might well exist for good reasons. Her arguments that donations to the Global Initiative pass straight through to projects and don’t go to the foundation, for instance, make sense to me. But at the end of the day, what matters is what they can attack her on, and, given those loopholes, she’s giving her stateside detractors ammunition even as she is building her own popularity here and abroad.

Goodness knows that I understand feeling a bit defensive, and Bill and Hillary have every reason — and then some — to feel so. But the point of being a Cabinet secretary is to serve your country. If making things more of a pain for yourself or your spouse enables you to accomplish as much as Hillary has said she would like to accomplish, it is certainly worth considering the more-annoying disclosure requirements.

Chris Hondros/Getty Images News

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