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Hillary Clinton’s Goldman Sachs Speeches Are Probably Boring. That’s Why It’s So Telling That She Won’t Release Them.

Clinton's unwillingness to release the transcripts is another sign of her longstanding resistance to transparency.

C-SPANC-SPANThe first time a reporter asked Hillary Clinton whether she would release the transcripts to her speeches to Goldman Sachs, for which she recieved a total of $675,000 she just laughed. The idea was silly, absurd, a joke — and not even worth considering. 

At Thursday night’s Democratic debate in New Hampshire, Clinton was asked again whether she would release the speeches, with moderator Chuck Todd relaying a question that had been sent in, and then expanding the question, asking Clinton whether she would release the transcripts to every one of her paid speeches.

Clinton didn’t laugh this time. Instead, she said she didn’t know the status of the transcripts, but would “look into it.” And then she took off on a response arguing, essentially, were beside the point, transitioning by saying, “My view on this is look at my record.”

Perhaps I’m missing something, but aren’t Clinton’s many paid speeches part of, well, her record? After all, Clinton has said that they came to her for her wisdom as a former principal in the Obama administration, that they valued her insight and her experience as major player in world affairs, meaning that they were clearly linked to her public service. 

"I did go on the speaking circuit," she said at the debate. "I spoke to heart doctors, I spoke to the American Camping Association, I spoke to auto dealers, and yes, I spoke to firms on Wall Street. They wanted me to talk about the world, what my experience had been as secretary of state." One attendee at a Goldman session confirmed to The New York Times that Clinton’s speech was basically a “tour of the world” in which she discussed trouble-spot countries like China, Russia, and Iran, as well as political dysfunction in Washington, D.C. 

My guess is that Clinton’s speeches were probably pretty anodyne, filled with versions of the same sorts of insights she’s shared in interviews with journalists and at public events many times. While I have never attended a Goldman Sachs event or a paid Hillary Clinton speech, I’ve occasionally gone to dinners and gatherings in Washington, D.C. featuring remarks by some powerful person or another, and almost invariably their remarks are not particularly newsworthy.

The speaker flatters the room, talks about whatever it is they’re working on or concerned about at the moment, and, usually, relates it to something in the news. These events tend not to contain startling revelations, and generally speaking they’re not particularly newsworthy, at least in terms of new or surprising announcements or details. The opposite, in fact, is true: Paid speeches to big groups often seem designed not to make news. (There are better forums for that.) So I doubt that Clinton’s Goldman remarks started with a tribute to big banks and an invocation to salute the Wall Street-Washington conspiracy.

The all-but-required flattery portion might be a little trouble for Clinton, I suppose, since she’s now trying to pose as tough on Wall Street. (“No one will regulate Wall Street more strictly than her,” is a typical spokesman statement on the matter.) But the actual political content of her words is, if anything, likely to be pretty bland.

And that’s why Clinton’s unwillingness to release the transcripts is so strange, and so revealing. As with Clinton’s emails, the issue is not the content in question so much as the way she has handled it, and her knee-jerk resistance to transparency.

Indeed, Clinton seems to have built that resistance into her speech contracts, several of which, as Buzzfeed reports, give Clinton sole rights to all reprints, reuse, and transcripts, making the speeches hers and hers alone to release, or hide. It's as if an effort was made to make sure that no one else could ever reproduce the transcripts without her permission. Again, there’s a similarity here to her emails, where she made the decision to host all of her State Department email communications on a private, homebrew server that the Clintons fully controlled, one that she initially said she would not turn over for inspection.

The story here isn’t that Clinton went to Wall Street and was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to go easy on financial regulation. It’s that when asked to share almost-certainly-bland remarks already made to dozens of people, she tries to avoid doing so, and turns out to have taken steps long ago to ensure that no one else could so without her permission.

That essential instinct for secrecy and information control appears to have guided her during her time as Secretary of State, and in her lucrative speech-giving as a private citizen. You can see the same instinct at work, as well, in the Clinton Foundation’s lack of follow-through on an explicit agreement with the Obama administration to disclose all of its donors, and the Foundation’s misleading excuses when asked about its failures to disclose.

This pattern of resistance to transparency has followed Hillary Clinton for years, in her work for the government, in her foundation’s philanthropic work, and in her private business. There is every reason that it would follow her into the White House too.

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  • SIV||

    I’ve occasionally gone to dinners and gatherings in Washington, D.C


    Spit it out McSuderman, no euphemisms, you mean COCKTAIL PARTIES

  • Crusty Juggler||

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I KNEW IT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • SugarFree||

    The only thing transparent about Hillary is her panties.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Dude

  • SugarFree||

    Because they are so wet.

  • Florida Man||

    Bladder control issues?

  • SugarFree||

    No, the sexy kind of wet. So wet it broke through the crust.

  • Florida Man||

    Noyce.

  • MJGreen - Docile Citizen||

  • WTF||

    Godammit.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    No, the sexy kind of wet.

    So suddenly the other kind of wet isn't considered sexy? Welcome to Obama's America, I guess.

  • Citizen X||

    Welp, it's barely February, and Sweet'n'Low's already sewn up the coveted Worst Comment of the Year award.

  • Illocust||

    The Clinton's have patented the can't technically prove scandal. By refusing to release anything none of their misdeeds can every proved. Overwhelming circumstantial evidence can be mounted, but the smoking gun can't be produced. This gives their supporters all the aid they need to ignore everything and just accuse the other side of conspiracy theory talk. It's brilliant from a political point, and god I hope the other movers and shakers learn enough to prevent anybody else from pulling this position off again.

  • Drake||

    Except they fucked it up with the email server. Her minions were so busy scrubbing all the Clinton Foundation kick-backs and dirty deals off the thing, they completely forgot to look for top secret stuff. Or, they mistakenly assumed a Secretary of State wasn't that stupid.

  • Rational Exuberance||

    I'm sure they removed everything that was actually marked "top secret"; it would be bizarre beyond belief if Clinton hadn't received any such E-mails. They missed these because they weren't clearly marked as such.

  • Pay up, Palin's Buttplug!||

    Clinton probably thought the emails were gone when she deleted them… and forgot to actually clean them up on the server.

  • WTF||

    I believe they actually did scrub most of the classified stuff. They figured they had to leave some of it on there because otherwise their claim to have rel. So the stuff that is left is the stuff they thought wasn't so damaging compared to what they acutually scrubbed.

  • WTF||

    fUCKING skwerlz!

    They figured they had to leave some of it on there because otherwise their claim to have released everything she was required to have had records of as secretary of state wouldn't even have an aura of credibility. So the stuff that is left is the stuff they thought wasn't so damaging compared to what they acutually scrubbed.

  • cavalier973||

    We knew what you meant.

  • Irish ♥s ESB||

    OT: Gloria Steinem thinks the only reason any young women support Bernie Sanders is because they're thirsty for dick.

    "Ms. Steinem, 81, one of the most famous spokeswomen of the feminist movement, took the sentiment a step further on Friday in an interview with the talk show host Bill Maher. Explaining that women tend to become more active in politics as they become older, she suggested that younger women were backing Mr. Sanders just so they could meet young men.

    “When you’re young, you’re thinking: ‘Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie,’ ” Ms. Steinem said."

    Pay no attention to my candidate's wild and provable corruption! You're just using Bernie Sanders support to get fucked!

    This seems pretty un-feminist, but what do I know.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Slut shaming isn't feminist?

  • Eternal Blue Sky||

    It isn't when you shame the wrong people.

    Sander's supporters are the right people, so shaming them is feminist.

  • Florida Man||

    It's so hard for young women to get laid. Of course they have to sell out their principles to get some cock.

  • Irish ♥s ESB||

    Yeah, we all know young women TOTALLY have to chase men, too. It's not like men will go wherever the women are.

  • AlmightyJB||

    We've tried tramp stamps, twerking, groin grinding, lipstick parties, but nothing works. Let's support the crazy old man who yells at clouds. That outta get us laid.

  • Just say Nikki||

    It's just like Gamergate.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Is that what that was about?

  • Crusty Juggler||

    We're winning.

  • Irish ♥s ESB||

    Gamergate is still the most retarded culture war squabble I've ever seen. People kept explaining it to me and I just could not bring myself to care.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    I still think it is American Sniper.

  • Irish ♥s ESB||

    Other than far leftists, I don't recall that many people having problems with American Sniper.

    I knew Matt Taibbi threw a hissy fit over it, but that's kind of Taibbi's game. He's always been a little bitch who tries to act tough, just like Mark Ames, so Taibbi getting whiny about a movie doesn't count as a culture war. He's just being his bitch self.

  • GILMORE™||

    "Other than far leftists, I don't recall that many people having problems with American Sniper"

    What's your definition of "far leftists"?

    Because a good chunk of the just normally-lefty 'mainstream media' made a huge stink about the huge stink about the thing.

    *(e.g. - rather than suggest they had criticisms *themselves*, they wrote dozens of stories 'reporting on' the 'widespread backlash'. Sort of like the "Bernie Bros" narrative = create a backlash by suggesting there already is one that must certainly have some merit)

    people like Michael Moore and Seth Rogan made some especially-reprinted criticisms of the film, comparing it to Snuff-porn and nazi-propaganda... but those remarks became the de rigeur response to the film on twitters by anyone needing to signal their non-yokelness

    Its not so much that the most-vocal critics representing a wide swath of the public -- but that the "story about the story" became overblown to such an extreme that people who hadn't seen the film (e.g. me) really began to think there must be something really awful in there *(and therefore awesome).

    Imagine how disappointed i was.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Iris, there were also stories like this one: The University of Michigan, ‘American Sniper,’ and the state of college campuses

    They changed the screening of American Sniper to Paddington, for the kids/students.

  • GILMORE™||

    "" Paddington""

    Ugh. Anglophilic appropriation, hello

  • cavalier973||

    It's the first movement to successfully push back against the cultural tyranny being imposed by SJWs.

  • JeremyR||

    It pushed back, but not successfully.

  • Illocust||

    You don't need to care. That was the beauty of it. A group of people that are constantly shit on in popular media got fed up with SJW's insulting them in online rags purportedly aimed at them, so they protested, and no amount of shit slinging and name calling by the feminist's twitter mobs was able to cow them because they were used to being unpopular.

  • Lee G||

    Steinem's just holding onto her last, best hope for influence.

  • ||

    [B]ut what do I know[?]

    Certainly not how to use HTML tags.

  • Irish ♥s ESB||

    I'm a rebel with a cause and that cause is never using HTML tags.

    Except I did use HTML tags for the link, so I have kind of failed.

  • Citizen X||

    and that cause is never using HTML tags.

    Well, that and racism.

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    What, you don't read even H&R headlines?

    Pretty lame, trawling day-old H&R to claim OT breaking news.

  • Irish ♥s ESB||

    Scarecrow is asshole. Why Irish hate?

  • AlmightyJB||

    He just hates Irish people. Certainly you can relate to that.

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    I'm 1/32 Irish! Why you hate me?

  • Pay up, Palin's Buttplug!||

    "Feminist scholar"? Is Gloria Steinman not well known enough that people would know her name?

  • MJGreen - Docile Citizen||

    Time to hit up some Bernie rallies.

  • Number 2||

    This seems very much to be a concerted effort on the part of Hillary supporters to suggest that a vote for Sanders is a vote for the Male Patriarchy. As I said yesterday, panic is setting in.

  • Pay up, Palin's Buttplug!||

    Didn't Sanders write rape porn?

  • Citizen X||

    Bernie lacks the imagination or originality to write smut. He simply stated as fact that most women fantasize about being gang-raped.

  • Brian||

    Gloria's just pissed off because of what it says about her brand of feminism:

    Young women think Bernie is a more paternal caretaker than Hillary.

    That flies in the face of Gloria's vision of what feminism is, which points squarely at making a woman president, because they're not supposed to need men.

    Young women have disappointed Gloria, so she trolls them. Because she has nothing better to do.

  • Sevo||

    Not to worry. There's nothing which was marked "secret" in them when she gave them. She promises.

  • JWatts||

    Her aides assured her that all the emails marked secret were scrubbed from the hard drive.

  • C. Anacreon||

    You mean, like, with a towel?

  • R C Dean||

    I think the reason she doesn't want to release them is they are utterly banal.

    And thus, obviously not worth nearly $250K apiece. Which raises the issue of just what Goldman Sachs was really paying for.

  • Sevo||

    "Which raises the issue of just what Goldman Sachs was really paying for."

    Yep:
    'Now that we know what you are, we can negotiate the price.'

  • Don Escaped Texas||

    equal access: didn't NBC have Jenna on payroll in 2009 ?

  • Crusty Juggler||

  • Rich||

    Oh, very well. A hundred and twenty minutes of actual work.

  • sasob||

    Six hundred grand? Gee, you'd think she could afford to get her face fixed. Hell, for that kind of jack she ought to be able to get her mother's thighs and ass fixed, too.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Her speeches are just her saying the word "access" over and over again.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    I lol'd.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Indeed, Clinton seems to have built that resistance into her speech contracts, several of which, as Buzzfeed reports, give Clinton sole rights to all reprints, reuse, and transcripts, making the speeches hers and hers alone to release, or hide. It's as if an effort was made to make sure that no one else could ever reproduce the transcripts without her permission

    I will just assume she performs a ping-pong show while sharing her twisted sexual fantasies.

  • Lee G||

    I'm going to have to start taking Lorazepam before coming to HNR if you guys keep this up.

  • R C Dean||

    I'm pretty sure that's standard language, or close to it, in a lot of these speaker's contracts.

  • JWatts||

    Regardless, it's clear that the primarly block to releasing the transcripts is Hillary Clinton.

  • ||

    Which would seem to be a self-defeating fuck up, no?

    As host, why go to the point of having your lawyers comb over the 'who owns what' paperwork only to have her stand there and say, "I don't know who controls the access to this!"

    It would be awesome if some PR person with one of these companies (presumably on their way out) would go Buzzfeed/clickbait on her; "Top 10 blunders Hillary Clinton made at a private speech, No. 7 will shock you!"

  • sarcasmic||

    Does she stand anything to gain by releasing them? No. So they will not be released.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Yeah, why give your opponents more of your own words to hang you with. Same reason she used private email. She knew she was running for president. The same reason the debates are on when no one is watching as well. Once annointed say nothing.

  • ||

    My guess is that Clinton’s speeches were probably pretty anodyne

    Yeah, they probably contain completely innocuous and mostly accurate statements like; 'There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what.'

  • Rational Exuberance||

    Clinton didn’t laugh this time. Instead, she said she didn’t know the status of the transcripts, but would “look into it.

    Predictable sequence of future statements from her: "They can't be found." "My people tell me the dog ate them." "You're paid for by the Koch brothers and the 1%." "It's a Republican witch hunt." "What difference, at this point, does it make?"

  • Rational Exuberance||

    Oh, forgot the last ones: "That was disproved months ago." "Why are you bringing up that old history?"

    And you have to imagine her delivering that with her supercilious tone of voice and facial expressions.

  • R C Dean||

    I can't decide which is worse for Hillary:

    Having to constantly duck and weave the non-stop rain of scandals, or talking about herself, her qualifications, and her plans.

  • Sevo||

    "talking about [...] her qualifications"

    Uh, OK. I'm listening.

  • Rich||

    "President Obama trusted me so much he asked me to be his Secretary of State."

  • ATXChappy||

    "And that’s why Clinton’s unwillingness to release the transcripts is so strange, and so revealing. As with Clinton’s emails, the issue is not the content in question so much as the way she has handled it, and her knee-jerk resistance to transparency."

    "My guess is that Clinton’s speeches were probably pretty anodyne, filled with versions of the same sorts of insights she’s shared in interviews with journalists and at public events many times."

    The fact that Goldman Sachs, or any other for profit company would pay $675,000 for 3 speeches that they could cobble together from YouTube clips is the telling part for me. And, that's probably why she doesn't want the transcripts released. People will read them and then ask themselves, now why would a financial services company pay that much money to here these remarks. And, the most plausible conclusion will be that the $$$ wasn't really for the speech at all. But, actually for the meetings that took place backstage before the speech.

  • WTF||

    As Fisty noted above, it's all about "access".

  • The Last American Hero||

    I'm beginning to think there were no speeches. There are probably transcripts in case someone makes the accusation, but they were probably just meetings.

  • Bubba Jones||

    I suspect the real concern is that she said a lot of nice things about Goldman and that is awkward during a campaign where she is running against them.

  • GILMORE™||

    "My guess is that Clinton’s speeches were probably pretty anodyne, filled with versions of the same sorts of insights she’s shared in interviews with journalists and at public events many times."

    True, but there's probably a lot of lip-service paid to the wonders of capitalism and free-enterprise which wouldn't jibe well with her current "Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, Who is Most Proggy of Them All!?"-posture

  • ||

    Hillary's speaking engagements as a metaphor for access is like her pulling a Sharon Stone in 'Fatal Attraction'.

    Only as she flashes she says, 'Access' and winks.

  • C. Anacreon||

    Good grief. It's like this thread needs the Monty Python policemen to come in and break it up.

    "All right, that's enough, move along."

    Do we need so many graphic discussions of Hillary this morning? Some of us drank at Super Bowl parties last night. We're already close to nausea as it is.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    What do you think it smells like?

  • Citizen X||

    Some sort of DARPA-created mob dispersal weapon, i'd imagine.

  • Rich||

    Victory. 8-(

  • Bubba Jones||

    No, I said DART gun.

  • Trigger Warning||

    Has anyone photographed her shrine to Frank Underwood?

  • splarry||

    I agree with your characterization of what the transcripts would be: boring, distilled old stories that could have been had for a few bucks in the leftover bin at the Barnes and Noble. However, I disagree on how damaging those transcripts would be if they were to be made public. First of all, discounting the praise of her friends and supporters on Wall Street, no matter how perfunctory, could be very damaging (see Romney’s 47%) But more damaging, I believe, would be the realization that time and time again, she was paid nearly a quarter of a million dollars for a boring, thirty minute speech that said nothing so profound or insightful that would warrant such compensation, in other words, it reveals the true purpose for the astronomical fee, which wasn’t the content of her speech, but to buy access to the Clintons'. That’s the dichotomy that’s so apparent to those supporting Sanders (or Trump for that matter) and the establishment, political insider who’s strongest argument is everyone else does it.

  • splarry||

    We’ve heard Hillary say that by Bernie's criteria president Obama isn’t a progressive. And with regards to her speaking fees, that all past Secretaries of State gave speeches. Today Bill Clinton is on the stump saying, if we were to discount everyone who took money from Wall Street we wouldn’t have anyone left in Washington.

    So, that’s their best argument: Everyone else is doing it.

    To which I say: Look where it’s gotten us.

  • Glide||

    I understand the premise of this article - but I must admit, I give zero damns about what Clinton said to some bankers in a speech years ago. We've seen her record, we've seen who she receives donations from, we've heard her explanations for her alleged corruption, and we've heard her platform. If someone really needs this info to make their voting decision, they're dumb.

    (Mind you, the electorate is obviously pretty dumb as evidenced by current polling.)

  • C. Anacreon||

    If your roommate's sister is making that kind of scratch, she should be donating to the Hillary campaign. There's a special place in Hell for her if she doesn't.

  • Mainer2||

    They say in the old Soviet Union the purpose of propaganda was to humiliate. People knew the party line was a lie, but had to pretend otherwise.

    I see some element of that in these outsize payments. There is some reasonable amount to pay for a Secretary of State to speak. Double that. But no, she had to have an amount so absurd as to humiliate.

    Look at NBC paying Chelsea. Anything under $100k would have been in some sense defensible, even if a little silly for such a novice. But $600,000 ? They cross some threshold of absurdity, and then just figure, fuck it, keep going. Make them pay an amount so ridiculous it's humiliating.

  • Doc Smith||

    Wanna see something really scary? Chelsea Clinton is a clone of her mother and will be running for office someday.

  • bassjoe||

    I was just going to assume the speeches were the property of the people who paid for them and she could easily hide behind the "my customers don't want to release what I told them".

    That the speeches are her exclusive property... zero excuse for not releasing them.

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