Do you know the old wheelbarrow joke? It's truly funny only to grandpas and the grandkids they tell it to, so I won't bother with the elaborate setup. For years a factory worker pushes a wheelbarrow full of straw past a security guard on his way out. Suspicious that the guy is stealing something, the guard looks in the straw but can't find anything. Finally, when the worker is retiring, the guard asks, "I know you've been stealing something -- can you tell me what it is?
The guy smiles and says, "Wheelbarrows."
That joke keeps popping into my head whenever I hear
The Clinton team says there's no proof of that. Both Clinton and many of her critics can get ahead of the facts, though in opposite directions. But one thing is clear: Clinton lied. That's not shocking; she's famous for doing that.
Just last month, Clinton said, "There is absolutely no connection between anything that I did as secretary of state and the
While everyone but ardent Clinton surrogates can agree that the whole thing looks bad, there's ample disagreement about whether there's any fire under all the smoke. The Clinton campaign insists that there's no evidence of a quid pro quo in any of the newly released emails. In other words, there isn't an email saying something like, "If you donate
To which the obvious response is, "Duh." Some things just aren't put in writing.
She may or may not be guilty of selling favors. But if she is, I very much doubt we'll find evidence of it in an email.
This whole argument misses the point. What we know from these emails, particularly thanks to an analysis by the
Team Clinton wants to say that even though these meetings and conversations took place, there's no evidence that anyone was granted a special favor.
Fine. Maybe. We'll see. But even if that's true, is there any evidence that the
This brings me back to the wheelbarrow joke. The meetings (and phone calls) are the wheelbarrows. It really doesn't matter if there's nothing "inside" the wheelbarrows; the meetings and conversations alone were valuable.
Being able to say to business partners, creditors, local politicians, etc., "When I met with Secretary of State Clinton last week ..." is a gift. In America and even more so abroad, possessing a reputation for having friends in the highest places is a priceless asset.
All campaigns understand this. Donors could always just send the check by mail. But politicians understand that one of the things a donor is "buying" is the ability to strut like an insider and dine out on your political connections.