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Wall Street’s Sugar Mama

The Goldman Sachs Democrat won't release transcripts of her paid Wall $treet speeches. Hmm...

In December 2013, Politico ran a story about Wall Street and Washington that begins with a speech Hillary Clinton gave to a group of bankers put together by some Goldman Sachs bigs. Boldface emphases below are mine. Excerpt:

But Clinton offered a message that the collected plutocrats found reassuring, according to accounts offered by several attendees, declaring that the banker-bashing so popular within both political parties was unproductive and indeed foolish. Striking a soothing note on the global financial crisis, she told the audience, in effect: We all got into this mess together, and we’re all going to have to work together to get out of it. What the bankers heard her to say was just what they would hope for from a prospective presidential candidate: Beating up the finance industry isn’t going to improve the economy—it needs to stop. And indeed Goldman’s Tim O’Neill, who heads the bank’s asset management business, introduced Clinton by saying how courageous she was for speaking at the bank. (Brave, perhaps, but also well-compensated: Clinton’s minimum fee for paid remarks is $200,000).

Certainly, Clinton offered the money men—and, yes, they are mostly men—at Goldman’s HQ a bit of a morale boost. “It was like, ‘Here’s someone who doesn’t want to vilify us but wants to get business back in the game,’” said an attendee. “Like, maybe here’s someone who can lead us out of the wilderness.”

Clinton’s remarks were hardly a sweeping absolution for the sins of Wall Street, whose leaders she courted assiduously for financial support over a decade, as a senator and a presidential candidate in 2008. But they did register as a repudiation of some of the angry anti-Wall Street rhetoric emanating from liberals rallying behind the likes of Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). And perhaps even more than that, Clinton’s presence offered a glimpse to a future in which Wall Street might repair its frayed political relationships.

That could explain why Clinton won’t release the transcript of that talk, or any of her other paid speeches to Wall Streeters. Chris Cillizza writes:

My guess is that in the speeches, Clinton likely acknowledges her various friends and acquaintances at Goldman Sachs (and other Wall Street firms) and praises them for the work they are doing.

Yes, it’s standard small talk. But it could look really, really bad in the context of the current campaign. Imagine a transcript of Clinton speaking to some big bank or investment firm where she thanks a litany of people she’s “been friends with forever” and then praises the broader enterprise for “all you do.”

In the hands of Sanders and his campaign team/supporters, that sort of thing could wind up being very problematic to Clinton’s attempts — already somewhat clumsy — to cast herself as a true progressive fighter for the 99 percent against the 1 percent. It might even prove deadly to those attempts.

So, no speech transcripts. Not today and my guess is not ever.

I’d say Cillizza nails it, and the Politico story backs him up. You know good and well that some banker had his smartphone on and recorded at least one of those speeches. It’s not in his interest to release that recording or a transcript of it, because that would only help the campaign of the socialist. But what if he does?

Anyway, Bernie is bound to keep pounding her to release the transcripts. And she has no good reason not to. This is getting fun.



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