An interesting moment in the second presidential debate was when Hillary Clinton was asked about transcripts of speeches she made to Wall Street institutions, for which she was paid lavish sums. The transcripts were recently distributed after being purloined by a computer hacker.
Perhaps you remember these speeches. They were the ones she gave after leaving government in 2013, and they were evidently stuffed with rhetorical riches that she was paid some $22 million to give. Or maybe Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, UBS and the rest just weren't really impressed by her insights and were just making an odds-on bet that she'd soon run for president and win. They'd have paid her the same to recite nursery rhymes if that's what she'd offered. In other words, she enriched herself by flogging her past and future power, and the financiers, knowing a good hedge when they see one, were more than willing to part with the lucre.
Before Sunday night's debate, DNC chairwoman Donna Brazille tried to cast doubt upon the provenance of the speech transcripts that Wikileaks released. They were unreliable and perhaps came from a hacker in the pay of Russian President Putin, she argued. Brazille claims to have ordered her staff not even to read them.
But Team Clinton abandoned the indefensible redoubt of denial on Sunday during the debate, when the Democratic nominee declined to disavow them.
She had resisted making them public during her primary campaign against Sen. Bernie Sanders, which was suspicious. What had she said to her audiences of bankers that was so horrible?
That's easy to answer. Private speeches can be damaging when they come from two-faced politicians. Here are the details. Clinton endorsed cutting Social Security benefits and praised "open trade and open borders." These positions may surprise her Democratic supporters, to whom she promises the opposite. She had to eliminate Sanders, her socialist challenger for the nomination, and so she had to pretend that he did not outflank her to the left. In other words — one has to keep using that locution when writing about Clinton — she pretended she believed things that she actually rejected in order to dupe the rubes voting in the Democratic primary.
As if to highlight or justify her hypocrisy, she mentioned in one speech the need to have "both a public and a private position" on controversial issues. The elite could hear the truth but the plebs must be told something different.
When asked about this in Sunday night's debate, Clinton said she had been referring to backroom deal-making featured in a biopic about Abraham Lincoln. This offered Trump the opportunity for his best line of the night, and arguably the best of his entire campaign: "She lied," Trump said. "Now she's blaming the lie on the late, great Abraham Lincoln."
Clinton's speeches put the lie to her risible claim that she tenaciously fought her unpopular Wall Street paymasters. She didn't resist collecting their money — she and her husband have taken cash from far more questionable sources, including the shady Russian entities with whom she often accuses Trump of doing business.
Considering Clinton's big lead in the latest polls, those bankers who paid to hear her laugh about her false public posturing are probably already measuring drapes for the Lincoln Bedroom. They got in early, like good investors do, and paid for that right.