In an interview with The Inquirer editorial board, Hillary Clinton was asked if she would release the transcripts of her speeches with Golden Sachs and other banks. Clinton charged back claiming that she’s being held to a double standard (emphasis mine):
“No, I want to make a broader point, because I’ve already told you what my answer is. When everybody meets the same standards, so will I. You know, I have to be very clear with you. I believe that the American people have more information about me than anyone who has ever run for president. I believe there has been a concerted effort to tear me down, to attack me, to criticize me, and there certainly has been a double standard between me and others who run. And at some point, you know, I have to say, look, let’s meet the same standards. Let’s start with tax returns. That has been the standard. I have more than met that standard. People have been pouring over my tax returns going back 30 years. And as I said, eight years I posted on my website. That is a very clear difference between me and Sen. Sanders; between me and Donald Trump. And I frankly always a little bit bewildered. Everybody keeps asking me to do more and more and more. And I have said, let’s have the same standards. And I will be happy to do the same.
But when you have transparency demands that only I meet, and others running do not, you know, it kind of raises a question in my mind, will people ever be held to the same standards that I’ve been held to. So I’ve been clear for months. When people release transcripts of speeches they gave, I will release mine. But in the meantime, I want to see their tax returns. That’s been the standard for decades, and they should meet that standard.“
Hillary Clinton is right! There is a double standard, but it’s not how she claims it to be. Hillary Clinton has always been held to a lower standard. She even had the privilege in many cases to define the standard as she sees fits. I will illustrate just a few examples in this article.
Double Standard on Influence of Money
Hillary Clinton accused Republicans of being beholden to the Koch brothers because of campaign contributions that they receive from the multibillionaires. She said: “Most of [Republicans] are not that ill-informed. They just have to do what the Koch brothers tell them. They say, ‘don’t believe your lying eyes — listen to us’.”
Yet it’s interesting that she accuses Bernie Sanders of “artfully smearing” her when he questioned the millions she receives from Wall Street. The Washington Post reported that the Clinton campaign and her super PAC accepted over $44 million in campaign contributions. Clinton doesn’t find any reason for concern asserting that Wall Street support “didn’t change her vote or her view,” despite the fact that Elizabeth Warren has explicitly said that Wall Street contributions influenced Clinton’s vote on the bankruptcy bill.
Yes, there is a double standard. Hillary Clinton can criticize Republicans for taking millions in campaign contributions, and she is free to insinuate that these contributions influence their view on climate change. But how dare Bernie Sanders criticize her for taking millions in contributions from Wall Street, the fossil fuel industry, and Big Pharma? How dare a Greenpeace activist “lie” about the fact that she takes money from the fossil fuel industry when she and her super PAC actually took $4.5 million from the industry through lobbyists?
Double Standard on Transparency
Hillary Clinton claims that she is the “most transparent public official in modern times.” She has the audacity to make that claim despite her frequent refusal to release the transcripts. In fact, she argues that Bernie Sanders is not as transparent as her by not providing his tax returns. Yes, Clinton can demand that Bernie Sanders releases his taxes, which his campaign stated that they will do, but how dare Sanders hold her to a so-called double standard demanding that she releases her speeches? Sanders, who is Clinton’s only rival in the Democratic race, has repeatedly stated that he never gave a speech to Wall Street and was forthcoming with providing a video of his paid speech. However, Clinton was not fazed by these attempts and continues to demand that Republican candidates, who she is not running against in the primary nomination, release their transcripts first.
It’s important to note that it was Lee Fang, a journalist for The Intercept, who asked Clinton if she’d release her transcripts. She laughed at his “ridiculous” request.
Yes, there is a double standard. In fact, Hillary Clinton sets the standards for what ought or ought not to be released. Clinton asserts that there is nothing in those speeches other than “talk about her experience as a Secretary of State, the world we live in and global challenges”. At the same time, there are reports that her speeches “sounded more like a Goldman Sachs managing director” and that they make her “look like an ally of the firm.” But anyone, including the editorial board of NY times which has officially endorsed the Secretary, demanding that she should come clean with the transcripts is somehow holding her into a double standard.
Double Standard on Her Plan
Back in January, Hillary Clinton demanded that Bernie Sanders should level with the American people and release the details of his healthcare plan. I agree with the former Secretary; the American people have a right to know the details of the proposals of the different candidates. Sanders complied and released a full plan showing how he’d pay for his ‘Medicare for All’ plan.
But when Hillary Clinton claimed that she supports universal health coverage “for every single man, woman, and child“, she provided no plan on how to achieve that goal. And while she touted expanding the Affordable Care Act, that in itself is not universal coverage. And till this day, it is still unclear how and when universal coverage would be achieved under a Clinton presidency. But that’s ok because there is a double standard.
"I know that we can finish the job of universal health care coverage for every single man, woman, and child." —Hillary
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 2, 2016
Double Standard on Working with Republicans
There is, however, a double standard. Many of Clinton’s own plans rely on Republicans like Scott Walker. Hillary Clinton’s education plan requires states to “step up and meet their obligation to invest in higher education by maintaining current levels of higher education funding and reinvesting over time.” On health care, Clinton doesn’t provide how she can convince cruel Republican governors to expand Medicaid and provide insurance to millions of Americans. And even her most progressive proposal, the “public option,” is contingent on Governors being interested in it.
Also, when Clinton attacks Sanders on his ability to pass his resolutions in a Republican Congress, there is hardly any discussion on how Hillary Clinton would be able to coax a Republican Congress that vilifies Obamacare to expand the Affordable Care Act. Does anyone in his or her right mind believe that Republicans would consider expanding funding for Planned Parenthood, let alone repealing the Hyde Amendment? As I’ve written before (here and here), the idea that a Clinton presidency would be able to get more progressive policies ‘done’ in a Republican-controlled Congress by giving them “bear hugs” is incredibly ridiculous.
Hillary Clinton also had the support of mainstream media throughout this election season. The Clinton campaign had the privilege of influencing the debate schedule and the implicit support of the DNC. She also has the support of the entire establishment, netting the endorsement of the vast majority of superdelegates. She is the only candidate in modern history, as Obama said in 2008, who can “embrace every success of Bill Clinton’s presidency and distance herself from every failure of Bill Clinton’s presidency.”
The truth of the matter is that Hillary Clinton has been privileged like no other politician running for the oval office in recent history.