Hillary presses the self-destruct button again over money

Hillary Clinton’s weird inferiority complex about money is doing in her potential presidential campaign. Only a couple of weeks ago she lamented being “dead broke” when leaving the White House, evoking gales of laughter and waves of scorn over the self-pity displayed. In a nation with scores of millions of people actually dead broke, with a net worth at or below zero, the spectacle of a woman set to collect millions of dollars in speaking fees and publisher’s advances bemoaning her financial plight bespeaks a bizarre detachment from the lives of ordinary people.

Now, she’s done it again. In an interview with the Guardian, as friendly a publication as one could imagine, she’s gone and stuck her foot in her mouth again.

She has claimed that despite the reported hundred million dollars she and her husband have raked in since the time since they were “dead broke,” they are not “truly well off.”

…with her huge personal wealth, how could Clinton possibly hope to be credible on this issue when people see her as part of the problem, not its solution?

"But they don't see me as part of the problem," she protests, "because we pay ordinary income tax, unlike a lot of people who are truly well off, not to name names; and we've done it through dint of hard work," she says, letting off another burst of laughter. If past form is any guide, she must be finding my question painful.

For 99.9% percent of the public, receiving a hundred million bucks over the course of 14 years, even if you pay half of it in income taxes, makes one “truly well off.”

Hillary’s money problem is twofold:

First, her childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood were financially pressed. Her father, Hugh Rodham, sold draperies and was not terribly successful at it. The professional peak of his career was getting the contract to install draperies at an airline lounge at O’Hare Airport.  

It must have been painful for her to attend Wellesley College, dowdy with buck teeth, an unfashionable Midwesterner surrounded by prettier and much richer girls, languishing behind coke bottle glasses and secretly fuming that she was smarter and more worthy than they.

Ego blows like this fade slowly, if at all. It is the kind of pain that sometimes drives ambition. And clearly Hillary has been ambitious, though for much of her adulthood channeling that ambition through her husband. It was Bill who received the glory of the presidency while she grumbled about not choosing to “stay home and bake cookies” in an infamous put-down of women whose choices were different than hers. Her obvious desire to be president demonstrates that even without cookie-baking, a degree of dissatisfaction with her place in life still rankles.

Second, as she and her husband climbed the ladder of social status, and achieved the  heights  acquired through elective office, they started associating with really, really rich people. So rich that, in fact, no matter how much money she and Bill earned, they were still among the less well-off members of their social set.  Whereas she knows many people with their own private jets, she and Bill cannot afford one. You might think that this would not matter, since she can readily borrow one from a friend, or require the dispatch of one as a condition of speaking at some function. But once you are in a social set where that is a dividing line, it becomes a painful mark of inferiority to have to depend on the kindness others for what has become an essential convenience. If you add on the scars of a childhood and adolescence where she felt humiliated by her parents’ middle class status, this form of comparative deprivation becomes a burden, and phrases like “truly well off” just tumble out in unguarded moments.

It is clear that Mrs. Clinton’s greatest enemy is her subconscious mind, full of resentments and arrogance. When she is on guard, as in her Fox News interview, these mistakes don’t happen. But when she is in friendly territory, they just slip out.

Has there ever been a presidential campaign without an unguarded moment? If she does indeed run for president, Hillary had better plan on never relaxing and letting the real Hillary out.  Ever.