Tuesday, June 21, 2022
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Hillary Clinton’s Lunch with the Financial Times

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

The Financial Times bills “Lunch with the FT” as “a weekly interview with leading cultural and business figures.” The conceit is that an FT reporter takes a celebrity to lunch, and interviews them, while also describing the (posh) venue and meal choices. Sometimes I buy a printed copy of the paper on the weekend, and relax with coffee while reading it; I always enjoy “Lunch with the FT.” The interviewees are mostly B-List celebrities like Jarvis Cocker, Cyrus Vance, Albert Bourla, and Heather Cox Richardson (!), with an occasional A-lister like Stephanie Kelton, and the occasional sop to The Blob like (ugh) Eliot Higgins. Clinton is another rare A-lister, although as a figure I don’t know which bucket to throw Clinton in: cultural, or business. Business, I suppose.

For the interview with Clinton, the FT — or Clinton’s staff, I don’t know — chose the Blue Duck Tavern at the Park Hyatt Washington D.C., “the hotel’s Michelin-starred, locally sourced restaurant.” I’m all for local sourcing, but the Blue Duck lost its star in 2019, when “a Michelin inspector told the Washington Post that the restaurant was lacking in ‘technique and quality.’” In fact, the most recent date on the Blue Duck’s awards page is 2019. The reporter might have said, though granted “starred” is in the past tense. Rather like Clinton herself? Perhaps Clinton’s security detail liked the arrangment of the entrances and exits.

The reporter’s write-up has a lot of paraphrasing, and I’m just going to leave all of it out. What follows will be only direct quotes from Clinton herself, and lacking in technique and quality they too are.

So. I’ve pulled on my yellow waders. Let’s go through “Hillary Clinton: ‘We are standing on the precipice of losing our democracy.

* * *

REPORTER: Lunching with Hillary Clinton is no routine affair. When I arrive at Washington’s sleek Park Hyatt hotel, the somewhat jittery[1] manager steers me to a discreet side door to await her arrival.

[1] Jitttery? I wonder who gave him the jitters?

* * *

CLINTON: “Oh, I really like wine, but not today. But I am a happy observer of other people’s drinking, so you go ahead…. You guys should have more wine.”

Clinton transparently trying to get her interlocutors plotzed while she remains sober.

CLINTON: “I have to confess I thought chips were kind of fancy potato chips. I thought they were with round cuts of potatoes. You call them chips but they’re fries[1].”

[1] First, chips are not fries: “In the UK, chips are considered a separate item to french fries. Chips are a thicker cut than french fries, they are generally cooked only once and at a lower temperature.” Second — although I did search Hard Choices for “chips” and “fries,” finding nothing — it’s inconceivable to me that anyone of Clinton’s class, and as well-traveled as Clinton, could not know this. I don’t want to harp on it, but surely it’s odd?

CLINTON: “Whether they were from West Virginia or Tyneside, their lives were so [1] — but the nostalgia for those days. I don’t know.”

[1] Of miners. The “deplorables” thing runs deep, doesn’t it?

REPORTER: “I tell Clinton that on learning of her defeat in 2016 my then nine-year-old daughter stopped taking my word as gospel.”

CLINTON: “It’s really remarkable how often I’m told stories like that[1] and how often I’m reading something like a work of fiction set in modern times and 2016 is a traumatic event[2] — it’s almost eschatological. It is a break in history. It’s such a piece of unfinished business.”[3]

[1] This says a lot about the bubble Clinton lives in; a large part of the country doesn’t feel this way at all.

[2] One can only imagine what would happen if the people in Clinton’s bubble (including, sadly, William Gibson) suffered real trauma. Black lung disease, for example.

[3] To be finished how, exactly? The 1/6 Committee?

CLINTON: “If you go down the rabbit hole of far right intellectuals, you see that birth control, gay marriage — all of it is at risk[1].”

[1] So presumably (see below) there are tranches of voters that Democrats should not throw under the bus? On principle?

CLINTON: “The level of insidious rulemaking[1] to further oppress women almost knows no end. You look at this and how could you not but think that Margaret Atwood was a prophet? She’s not just a brilliant writer, she was a prophet.”

[1] Well, “insidious rulemaking” is what the Democrat base, the PMC, does. So the otherwise odd framing makes sense.

CLINTON: “I found Alito was the kind of young man who when he was at Princeton railed against coeducation, railed against letting women into the eating clubs, and that was all in the background that I read. He honestly struck me as one of those very self-righteous types seeking to remake society[1].”

]1] Heaven forfend that one should attempt to “remake society” through politics!

CLINTON: “Literally within hours of the polls closing in 2016, we had so much evidence pouring in about voters being turned away in Milwaukee[1] and not being able to vote in Detroit[1],”

[1] Low Black turnout lost Clinton Milwaukee, not voter suppression.

[2] Trump won Michigan in 2016 by flipping 12 counties that had voted for Obama. In Detroit specifically, the issue was that “37 percent [of precincts] tabulated more ballots than the number of voters tallied by workers in the poll books.” It should not, I suppose, surprise us at this point that Clinton is outright falsifying history, but here we are.

CLINTON: “These states were run by Republicans so there was no way to find out the truth about any of them. I also believe in peaceful succession and transition[1] and all of that.”

[1] In all fairness, the Democrats’ faithless elector scheme, and RussiaGate, were both peaceful. The latter was designed to render the Presidential transition a nullity, but peaceful it was.

CLINTON: “Even in his reptilian brain[1], Trump has to know that he lost this time. He refuses to accept it because it wasn’t supposed to happen[2].”

[1] We all have reptilian brains; I know I do. If, however, a voter wanted (unlike Clinton) no TPP and (unlike Clinton) no war with Russia, and got that plus the CARES Act plus Operation Warp Speed, then the case can be made that we need more lizards in office. (Not to sugarcoat Trump’s many stupidities and sins in his response to Covid, especially with masking, but he had plenty of help, and Biden’s sclerotic response, which has boiled down to “Let ‘er rip,” is arguably worse.)

[2] Project much?

CLINTON: “I think if [Trump] can he’s going to run again. Follow the money with Trump[1] — he’s raised about $130mn sitting in his bank account that he used to travel around, to fund organising against elections[2] . . . I don’t know who will challenge him in the Republican primary[3].”

[1] Well — ***cough*** The Clinton Foundation ***cough*** — naturally we follow the money. We’re not six-year-olds. Trump might have other motives, of course: revenge, an aversion to losing, the joy of battle, his place in history

[2] I hold no brief for Trump’s views on election 2020, but “organizing against elections” is not what he’s doing.

[3] DeSantis, for one. How can she not know is? Is Clinton paying attention at all? (Oddly, the interview never asked her about her bout with Covid.)

REPORTER: “Could you imagine running again, I ask.”

CLINTON: “No, out of the question. First[1] of all, I expect Biden to run. He certainly intends to run[2]. It would be very disruptivet[3] to challenge that.”

[1] “Clinton does not get around to her second point about why she will not seek high office again. The first seems final enough.” One can only imagine what the second point was.

[2] Hardly a Sherman Statement, hence not final at all. Would she turn down the nomination if it were offered to her?

[3] So, avoiding “disruption” is the ultimate value?

CLINTON “You’ve got to give Kissinger credit for longevity if nothing else. He just keeps going. I never thought Brzezinski had a romantic view of the Russians the way Kissinger did.[1] He values his relationship with Putin so much[2].”

[1] I think Clinton is reacting to Kissinger’s pronouncement at Davos — sadly, Clinton was not there — that “negotiations need to begin in the next two months before it creates upheavals and tensions that will not be easily overcome.” Here’s the video; listen, and see if iyou think it’s “romantic” (!). Brzezinski has also advocated breaking up Russia, which isn’t so much romantic as Quixotic or delusional. Who does he imagine would feast on the carcass?

[2] Kissinger’s 98 years old. He doesn’t buy green bananas at the supermarket, let alone trim his words to fit what somebody want to hear later.

REPORTER: “[Clinton] relates an anecdote about a restaurant dinner in London several years ago [chips not on the menu, presumably], where the guests debated the wisdom of NATO’s post-cold war expansion. After a while, the waiter interrupted”–

CLINTON: ” [WAITER]’Before I take your order, I am from Poland and I have one thing to say: never trust the Russians'[1]…. I always believed in expanding NATO and I find the arguments against that to be naive at best, because what we have seen is proof positive of why it was necessary[2] .”

[1] If this actually was allowed to happen, it’s amazing, and it’s also amazing that a waiter at a (presumably) high-end restaurant would presume. Also amazing that Clinton takes the waiter’s perspective as unmotivated by Poland’s history and geographical context, which is not ours. Finally, Clinton’s position is childish, especially for a former Secretary of State. Contrast Lord Palmerston: “We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.” Trust is all very well, but comes far behind arrangements for mutual interest. (For example, the United States and Russia certainly trusted each other on the International Space Station for many years.)

[2] Not a realist perspective, needless to say.

CLINTON: “Yes, he was very sexist towards me. We had some interesting, even helpful, interactions in private and then the press would be invited in and he would say something insulting about America[1]. He would then manspread[2] for effect[3].”

[1] Insulting America isn’t sexist.

[2] Manspreading isn’t a cultural universal, for pity’s sake.

[3] Well, when you’ve got stones the size of Putin’s…. Clinton is, apparently, a telepath. How does she know it’s “for effect?”

CLINTON: “If Trump had won in 2020 he would have pulled out of NATO — I have no doubt about that.”[1]

[1] Quelle horreur! Obviously, a nice long war to the last Ukrainian is infinitely preferable.

CLINTON: “We are standing on the precipice of losing our democracy[1], and everything that everybody else cares about then goes out the window[2]. Look, the most important thing is to win the next election. The alternative is so frightening[3] that whatever does not help you win should not be a priority.”

[1] That is the Democrat talking point, true. One of the most interesting aspects of the Republican 2022-2024 strategy is that the Republicans are running for office (e.g., election offiicials and Secretaries of State). Wouldn’t it be possiible — hear me out — for Democrats to run opposing candidates?

[2] Gay marriage? Suppose breaking up Google was a political winner. Would Clinton support that? Suppose Republican opposition to Biden’s war in Ukraine got real traction. Would Clinton flip fllop on that? Even assuming Clinton would do any or all of those things, what kind of party is it that will say or do anything to “win the next election”? A losing party, I would say.

[3] It does seem that fear is what primary motivates Democrats, at least in public (greed being a private matter).

CLINTON: “You need accountable measures. But you also need policing. It doesn’t even pass the common-sense politics test not to believe that. Some positions are so extreme on both the right and the left that they retreat to their corners . . . Politics should be the art of addition not subtraction[1].”

[1] I’m sure Bernie Sanders will be glad to hear that.

* * *

Here’s the concluding paragraph:

It has been an intensive 100 minutes but I am not sure I have persuaded Clinton to take off her proverbial mask. As we stride across the busy restaurant floor — Clinton waves gamely and returns a barrage of shouted greetings — I notice that she did not bring an actual one, an omission still viewed askance in some circles.

“Some circles” like the Blue Duck itself. Here are the rules:

Guest and colleague safety is our highest priority. We continue to evolve and enhance our safety and cleanliness protocols adhering to Hyatt’s Global Care & Cleanliness Commitment as well as following the guidance from D.C. government. and employees are required to wear masks at all times.

Of course, the rules are different for somebody at Clinton’s exalted level (see Invariant #1 here); and for the Clintons, they always have been. Bill and Hillary Clinton crossed a picket line on their first date. As then, now.



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