Hillary Clinton, Wall Street, and the neoconservatives

In my post from two days ago expressing my puzzlement about the Washington and Republican establishment’s strategy against Donald Trump, I concluded with the following prediction.

Trump will be the Republican nominee and be selected on the first ballot. Most of the anti-Trump forces who are now screaming loudly will eventually give in and support him because they do not want a Democrat to win. You can seen the equivocation already taking place, with some in the party suggesting that maybe Trump is not so bad after all and laying the groundwork for eventual total capitulation. At the last debate, after calling Trump a conman and fraud and clown and suggesting he has a small penis, Rubio, Cruz, and Kasich all said that they would support Trump if he were the nominee. That shows that all this anti-Trump rhetoric is mostly sound and fury, signifying nothing.

While I said that ‘most’ of the anti-Trump forces will eventually come around to supporting him, I did not specify those who would not and this post will elaborate.

There are two groups that do not have a mass following and thus do not have any actual voter power but are extremely influential in American political life and if they have to choose between Trump and Hillary Clinton, I expect them to choose Clinton.

One group is Wall Street and the financial and investment bank community generally. The ties of this group to the establishment of both parties are long and strong and to the Clintons particularly so. The financial sector has invested heavily in both Bill and Hillary and you can be sure that despite her new-found fervor about being tough on the banks that she has been forced to adopt because of Sanders and the populist surge, once she is in office she will go easy on them and even favor them, just like Barack Obama and Bill Clinton before her.

In a long essay in the March 2016 issue of Z Magazine (subscription required) titled The Clinton Dynasty and the Shadow Government, Laurence Shoup traces the long history of influence-peddling of the Clintons going back to their days in Arkansas. The main vehicles they used to get money from wealthy influence seekers were writing books, giving speeches, serving on corporate boards, and getting donations to their election campaigns and to the Clinton Foundation. For example, Hillary Clinton served on the board of WalMart for six years even as that corporation was engaged in vicious anti-union policies. He points to the strong links that the Clintons have created with billionaires like Haim Saban and George Soros and a host of others and to solidly conservative establishment entities like the Council on Foreign Relations and they are all eagerly looking forward to a Clinton presidency.

Shoup concludes:

The Clintons, over the past three and a half decades, have taken influence peddling and corruption (the self serving use of public power for private ends) to a new and destructive level by serving the shadow government in a variety of ways. They have provided a convenient cover and means for wealthy and powerful interests to directly and indirectly influence governmental policies.

Shoup points to an article that appeared in the Washington Post on November 19, 2015 that looked at the network of connections that the Clinton have built over the last 41 years and the vast amount of money that those connections have made from them.

They made historic inroads on Wall Street, pulling in at least $69 million in political contributions from the employees and PACs of banks, insurance companies, and securities and investment firms. Wealthy hedge fund managers S. Donald Sussman and David E. Shaw are among their top campaign supporters, having given more than $1 million each.

Over her political career, she has maintained close relations with the financial sector, which tops the list of industries that have supported her, according to The Post’s analysis. Other major sectors that have backed her include the entertainment industry, health care and real estate.

Since 2000, Hillary Clinton has raised $29.2 million from the PACs and employees of banks, hedge funds, securities firms and insurance companies, according to The Post analysis. During his political career, Bill Clinton raised $39.7 million from the same sector.

In her current campaign, Clinton has pledged to rein in Wall Street. She has proposed higher taxes on high-frequency traders and an end to special tax breaks for hedge fund managers, and recently called for more aggressive enforcement of criminal statutes that govern the finance industry.

But her rhetoric has not alarmed her backers in the financial sector. So far, donors in the banking and insurance industries have given $6.4 million to her campaign and allied super PACs, behind only those in communications and technology, The Post found.[My emphasis-MS]

Of course they are not concerned by her rhetoric. They have bought her and they know it. They are confident that once in office, she will return to the fold, making up some story about why this is now the right thing to do. If the Clinton’s have a talent, it is the ability to manufacture high-toned reasons to justify naked political and financial expediency. But Trump has not been feeding at the Wall Street trough like the Clintons. This is why Wall Street is planning a big campaign against him.

The other group that is likely to support Clinton over Trump are the neoconservatives. These people are firmly ensconced in the Washington beltway and media and in magazines like the National Review magazine and think tanks like the The American Enterprise Institute. This group advocates a belligerent and aggressive US foreign policy that seeks to dominate the world even if it risks destabilizing it, and especially supports waging war against any nation that Israel thinks must be destroyed, in addition to condoning the oppressive policies of the Israeli government against the Palestinian people. For neoconservatives, this takes precedence over everything else.

Clinton has shown herself to be a warmonger and fervent supporter of Israel’s aggressive policies against the Palestinians so she is a natural choice for neoconservatives. Her support for the debacles that are the current Iraq and Libyan wars is well known and the Nation recently ran an article about her less well known role in the military coup in Honduras where the leaders are now picking off opposition leaders. Clinton is a true pupil of Henry Kissinger, so her pleasure at being praised by her mentor, someone who really should be in prison as a war criminal, is not surprising.

Both the financial sector and the neoconservatives want and expect unconditional adherence to their agenda and they will get it from Clinton. But Trump is a shaky prospect. He has not received huge sums from the big Wall Street donors and the neoconservatives and so he is not beholden to them the way that Clinton is. His populist rhetoric that the government has been bought by big money influence peddlers and that he opposes the US’s military adventures in the world and will take a more neutral stance on the Israel-Palestinian issue must be alarming to them. This explains why the National Review devoted an entire issue to attack Trump.

So it is highly likely that in a matchup between Clinton and Trump, Wall Street and the neoconservatives will end up supporting Clinton.


  1. says


    I’m also waiting for when Chelsea has her political awakening and runs for governor or some stepping-stone position. With all the money of the Clinton Tax Shelter* behind her, she’ll do fine. She may have no political sense at all, but you know how aristoi like setting up dynasties.

    (* Foundations like the Clinton foundation or the Kennedy, Gates foundation etc -- are ways of intergenerationally passing wealth without paying taxes, while still giving your spawn access to a huge amount of wealth they don’t have to work for.)

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    Clinton more and more reminds me of an American Margaret Thatcher, except with some union-leader backing.

  3. Holms says

    Tellingly, that backing puts those leaders at odds with those that they claim to represent.

  4. lorn says

    I don’t see Hillary as pro-corporation/banking/finance. I see her as a survivor of the lean years when the unions were getting their asses kicked (As a union member I saw it from the inside) when nobody, absolutely no body, had wealth or inclination to keep the Democratic party alive. Those who had no money couldn’t give. Those with money were largely reeling from the recession and political shocks and so uncertain that they felt they couldn’t give away any of what little they still had. And certainly not to a cause, no matter how noble its aspirations and ideals, that was consistently loosing ground.

    You rob banks because that’s where the money is. You dance with the devil if it means your party, and its ideals, live to see another day. Not to resurrect ancient history but at the time the Democratic party was having its ass handed to it. The Republicans were gloating about possible permanent GOP control of government and they were more right than wrong. The GOP had run the board in the states at all levels. They own have installed the majority of federal and state judges, right up to a firm majority in the SCOTUS. Bother houses of congress were looking to go Republican.

    Business, including the corporations, finance, banking were flush with money and desperate to trade cash for respectability. They were also looking to side with who is winning at the moment and were backing the GOP to a multiplier of two or three to one compared to the Democrats. So yes, the Clintons peddled their wares and made sweet noises at the vulgar newly rich who were desperate to polish their image. It was either that or close up shop and capitulate entirely to the right-wing.

    Irony is that so many Progressives have so soon forgotten the tough times when practicality and the need to keep the Democratic party viable trumped (Should that be Trumped) the need for ideological purity.

    It was an arrangement that had down sides and up. Down side is that humans incorporate the world view of those around them and thousand of hours talking to billionaires does shift your language, if not your perspective. It also effected how the Clintons made money. In those circles a speaking engagement is just one of the perks offered to someone you like. The Clintons, contrary to how much money they were reported to have had, were not liquid. Kenneth Starr and his taxpayer sponsored inquisition and auto-de-fay had swamped the Clintons in legal bills. So yes, they were desperate both as individuals, and as representatives of a party on a long losing streak.

    Up side is the Democrats got through that decade. The Clinton’s legal bills were paid off and the media bombardment was lifted as the GOP noise machine found other people to shoot at. There is also the fact that being around bankers and financiers showed them in detail how they worked. A fact that comes out in Hillary’s banking and finance reform proposals. Bernie says he will reform banking. It is a claim like Truman saying he will “Go to Korea”. Few details are offered and no viable path to execution is mapped out. Clinton’s proposal is more modest but it is the equivalent to the ACA for healthcare. The ACA is a necessary step toward single-payer. The key point is to get the foot in the door on curbing the power of banking and finance. Establishing the right of the government to say no is both the most anyone can expect to get, and the vital foundation for any real reform.

    This insight was only possible because the Clintons rubbed elbows with the big money boys and learned the understand the system well enough to map out a workable reform strategy. Yes, it is frustrating to not get a “revolution”. I would love to see the banks broken up and their executive suites emptied for tumbrel fodder. That isn’t going to happen. Not under Bernie; not under Hillary. Not with bankers running 80% of the economy and the GOP holding on to the House of Representatives.

    Hillary’s more modest reform has a slim chance simply because the majority of bankers realize that the free market doesn’t remove or punish bad actors and the corruption has gotten so bad that they are at a turning point where finance either has to give up the illusion of respectability and start wearing stove-pipe hats and twirling long mustaches or admit that someone outside their industry has to impose regulations they cannot impose on themselves.

    I really don’t think that Hillary is in anyone’s pocket. He reforms are going to be couched in terms favorable to banking but hidden inside is the crux of the argument over the right of the government, carrying out the will of the people through elected representatives, to impose regulation and controls over money and property. Ayn Rand and the free market fundamentalists has been proved wrong on every point. The bankers will never ever admit to this fact. Not in so many words; not in public. The Clinton reform tacitly admits that point while providing rhetorical cover. She offers up a settlement that denies Progressives of the spectacle of Tumbrels filed with billionaires but it is also a tacit but legally binding capitulation of the free-market ideology to the need for regulation. It is also about as much as any Democrat has any chance of getting.

  5. says

    @5 lorn:

    You rob banks because that’s where the money is. You dance with the devil if it means your party, and its ideals, live to see another day. Not to resurrect ancient history but at the time the Democratic party was having its ass handed to it.

    I think the problem I see here is that, while the party lived, the party also changed permanently. As you also note, “Up side is the Democrats got through that decade.” OK, so we should see the Dems no longer robbing banks, right? You seem to think they are no longer robbing banks (“I really don’t think that Hillary is in anyone’s pocket.”), but I don’t think many of the rest of us that read this blog are convinced. No, instead the attitude seems to be, “We got away with robbing banks, so we’re going to keep robbing banks.” In some ways, I wonder if it would have been better if the party had just died. It is, after all, really just an unfounded assumption to believe the death of the Democratic party would have been for the worse of the country, is it not? I can understand the appeal of such an assumption, but let us recognize it for what it is.

  6. lorn says

    ” It is, after all, really just an unfounded assumption to believe the death of the Democratic party would have been for the worse of the country, is it not?”

    It is not an unfounded belief. Bernie wouldn’t have a shadow of a chance in this election without the Democratic party setting up primaries.

    For better or worse the voting system in this democracy (small ‘d’) is set up, and will remain set up that way until restructured by legislation, to accommodate a two-party political structure. Any third party, or, to a less extent, any party not named Democratic or Republican is going to fight up hill and against the wind.

    If the Democrats had gone out of business in those dark days Bernie would have no Democratic party to fall in bed with. No Democratic party to smooth his path and guarantee his coverage. He wouldn’t have been heard from, or gotten any press, at this time because there would be no Democratic primaries for him to run in. There would be no extended media coverage, no chance to convert primary results and media coverage into champaign contributions, or any chances for voters to vote for him prior to November 7. Without the backing of an established Democratic party Bernie would have far less money to work with, far less media coverage, and a deucedly short run up to a single vote of Nov 7.

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