By Ralph Nader
There is a growing asymmetry between the media’s mounting demands for Donald Trump to release his tax returns (Hillary has done so) and their diminishing demands that Hillary Clinton release the secret transcripts of her $5000 per minute speeches before closed-door banking conferences and other business conventions.
The Washington Post, an endorser of Clinton, in its August 18 issue devoted another round of surmising as to why Trump doesn’t want to release his tax returns—speculating that he isn’t as rich as he brags he is, that he pays little or no taxes, and that he gives little to charity. Other media outlets endorsing Hillary have been less than vociferous in demanding that she release what she told business leaders in these pay-to-play venues.
When asked last year about her transcripts on Meet the Press, she said she would look into it. When the questions persisted in subsequent months, she said she would release the transcripts only if everybody else did. Bernie Sanders replied that he had no transcripts because he doesn’t give paid speeches to business audiences. Nonetheless she continues to be evasive.
We know she has such transcripts. Her contract with these numerous business groups, prepared by the Harry Walker Lecture Agency, stipulated that the sponsor pay $1000 for a stenographer to take down a verbatim record, exclusively for her possession. .
The presidential campaign is moving into a stage where it will be harder for reporters to reach her. Except for a recent informal gathering with some reporters, Hillary Clinton, unlike all other presidential candidates, has not held a news conference since last December. This aversion to media examination does not augur well should she reach the White House. Secrecy is corrosive to democracy.
Why wouldn’t Hillary tell the American people, whose votes she wants, what she told corporations in private for almost two years? Is it that she doesn’t want to be accused of doubletalk, of “gushing” (as one insider told the Wall Street Journal) when addressing bankers, stock traders or corporate bosses? On the campaign trail Hillary only mimics Bernie Sanders’s tough, populist challenges to Wall Street. The Clintons are not known for answering tough questions or participating in straight talk. Dodging and weaving is what they do and too often they get away with it.
Hillary is the clear reported choice for president not just by the Wall Street crowd. The champions of the military-industrial complex love her variety of extreme hawkishness, which rings the cash registers for ever more military weapons contracts.
As the Sanders uprising dims, Hillary can be seen already returning to her former militarized foreign policy. On the last day of the Democratic Convention, the stage’s military presence foreshadowed her return to militarism. Her supporters shouted “U.S.A., U.S.A.” to drown out the Sanders shoutouts for peace and justice. Hillary’s supporters sounded like the jingoistic Republicans. She’s been endorsed by numerous retired Pentagon, C.I.A. and N.S.A. officials who find Trump’s “Why can’t we get along with Russia and China?” statements disturbing to their world views.
Where Trump’s White House is seen as utterly unpredictable, Hillary’s White House is utterly predictable: more Wall Street, more military adventures. As Senator and Secretary of State she has never seen a weapons system or a war that she didn’t support. Remember her singular pressure to attack Libya over the objections of then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates who asked, “What happens after the regime is overthrown?”
Hillary’s judgement and experience regarding Libya resulted in an ongoing, spreading disaster of violence and chaos in that war-torn country and its neighboring countries to the south.
It is bad enough that monetized politicians and the mass media reduce voters to the status of spectators, excluded from injecting their issues, and their perceived injustices into the electoral campaigns. Now people are told to stop complaining when candidates such as Hillary Clinton tell the gilded few what she and they don’t want many of us to hear.
To help people prevail against the refusals to disclose by Hillary and Donald, I’ve made two videos you may wish to see and share.