Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Revisiting The Clintons of Arkansas's Pre-2016 Presidential Campaign's Pre-1996 Political Record: Part 2

In 2016 the Clintons of Arkansas are campaigning for a third term in the White House after January 21, 2017. Yet the Clintons' political record when Bill Clinton was Arkansas's governor (at the same time that his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, represented Arkansas corporate establishment clients as a corporate lawyer for Arkansas's Rose Law firm and sat on the board of directors of the Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Corporation)--was apparently not considered to be an ethical political record by the Center for Public Integrity. As Charles Lewis and the Center for Pubic Integrity's 1996 book, The Buying Of The President, recalled:

"...The point of Whitewater and Bill Clinton's public service career in Arkansas is that long before the presidential election of 1992, his political identity as an accommodator of the largest, most powerful monied interests was well established. While he was governor, millions of dollars in private favors at public expense accrued to various companies and individuals, and Clinton's professional career as a politician wasa supported by the Arkansas financial and political elites.

"Bill Clinton...has always understood the political importance of raising substantial campaign funds. What is most striking about his first campaign is how a 28-year-old assistant professor of law in Fayetteville, Arkansas, running for a seat in the Congress for the first time, could raise more money than the incumbent four-term Republican congressman. During that 1974 election Clinton raised $178,000, about $20,000 more than John Hammerschmidt, from traditional Democratic party sources.

"In 1974 as well as 1992, candidate Clinton has actually embraced powerful corporate interests and much of their agenda despite his rhetoric against them. When Clinton ran for Congress in 1974 the largest employer in the Third District of Arkansas was Tyson Foods, based in Springdale, which was well on its way to becoming the nation's largest poultry producer...

"The chairman, Don Tyson, is a colorful figure who in the late 1970s designed his corporate office as a replica of the Oval Office in the White House, with doorknobs shaped like chicken eggs. Tyson was estimated to be worth $800 million. He supported Clinton in the 1974 race and according to author David Maraniss, the Tyson family donated a campaign telephone bank which was operated from an apartment near the University of Arkansas, although it should be noted that no such `in-kind' contribution was reported by the campaign to the Federal Election Commission. Clinton never talked much about the company itself publicly, but, instead spoke empathetically about the plight of chicken farmers.

"The Tyson-Clinton relationship continued in Washington, of course, and it grew out of a special culture. Probably no one has better captured the real essence of the political-financial nexus in Arkansas than journalist Michael Kelly, who wrote that Arkansas:

"`...has been ruled for almost all of its existence, and is largely ruled still, by a thin upper crust of Democratic party officials and Democratic legislative leaders and important landholders and businessmen. This elite, bound together not by party or even ideology but by mutually advantageous relationships, holds sway over a small and politically disorganized middle class and a large but well-beaten population of the poor. The contradiction is that Arkansas voters, in a class-based reaction against this condition, perpetually favor politicians who are `common' in touch, populist in theology, and reformist in policies.'

"To be plausible and acceptable to the political and financial elite of Arkansas, a politician certainly cna and must relate well to the people. But he or she must not substantially interfere with the daily commerce of the state, the business status quo. Every candidate in Arkansas instinctively knows this or learns it the hard way. Such is the theater into which Bill Clinton's political career was born." 

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