Clinton’s Weak Campaign Finance “Pillar”

by Rob Hager, Truthout | Op-Ed –

clinton campaign trail

Hillary Clinton at Kirkwood Community College, Monticello, Iowa on April 14. (Photo: Barbara Kinney/Hillary for America)

1. First Bite

Hillary Clinton’s first official campaign trip produced a widely quoted soundbite. On April 14, she announced to a community college roundtable in Monticello, Iowa: “We need to fix our dysfunctional political system and get unaccountable money out of it once and for all – even if it takes a constitutional amendment.”

The Washington Post identified this statement as “one of several pillars of her 2016 presidential campaign.” CBS’ headline for its story on “unaccountable money” featured Clinton’s positioning it as one of the “four big fights that I think we have to take on,” the others being the evergreen apple-pie subjects of the economy, family and national security. Her communications director, elaborating on Clinton’s spare comments, enthused “It’s something she’s really concerned about.”

Considering the months spent crafting her campaign’s four policy pillars, and also the way the message was tightly controlled in Iowa, Clinton’s particular phrasing for her “unaccountable money” pillar may safely be assumed to have been delivered precisely as intended by her campaign team.

The Post‘s headline writers, NPR and others nevertheless quickly converted Clinton’s hypothetical statement, “if it takes a constitutional amendment,” into a far more committed “support for a constitutional amendment,” as if Clinton is expected to propose or endorse a constitutional amendment during her campaign.

George Will hyperventilated on Fox that, “One of her four fundamental goals is to change the First Amendment to empower the political class to write legislation restricting the quantity, content and timing of political speech about the political class. I don’t think anyone has ever announced running for president that they wanted to change the Bill of Rights.” Calm down George, she said nothing of the kind.

Slate’s dog-whistle headline, relying on nothing more than the above quote in the Post, also transformed her statement, even further than the Post: “Hillary Clinton Hints at Support for Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United.” The Post, and Clinton in Iowa, said nothing at all about Citizens United, let alone support for any “amendment to overturn” it. What Clinton did say is closer to the opposite of either of those two concepts, or Will’s.

2. Accountable Disclosure

Contrary to the commentariat, Clinton’s statement does not supportgetting all or any part of interested money out of politics, which is what people advocating an “Amendment to Overturn Citizens United” think they are supporting. Clinton is speaking solely about “unaccountable money.” Political investments can become “accountable” without being excluded from the pay-to-play system of US politics. Clinton is simply advocating that money be disclosed.



Reprinted with permission from Truthout


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