Trump Sr.’s June 3 comments came on the night that he won the final round of Republican primaries. His speech makes for depressing reading. “The Clintons have turned the politics of personal enrichment into an art form for themselves. They’ve made hundreds of millions of dollars selling access, selling favors, selling government contracts, and I mean hundreds of millions of dollars.” In light of the manner in which Trump and his family have behaved in connection with their own financial interests, this borders on self-parody.
One of the many things I may never understand about our current political climate is this: On the one hand, I do understand (and to a large extent share) the outrage that many people felt about the Clintons’ exercise of the “politics of personal enrichment.” (Although, to be fair, Trump’s ridiculous claim that the Clintons made “hundreds of millions of dollars” selling access and favors is just that, a ridiculous (and completely unsubstantiated) claim; we have their tax returns, remember?) I get the outrage, though, about the obscene speaking fees, and the foundation “contributions,” and the rest. But what I cannot understand is how many of the people who were the most outraged by the Clintons’ financial shenanigans just shrug off Trump’s far more blatant efforts to use the presidency to promote his personal brand and enrich himself and his family. “We voted for him because he’s a successful businessman — and you can’t expect him to drop all his business activities just because he’s the president” doesn’t quite work, to my mind. It smacks too much of a double standard — it’s okay for the millionaires to keep doing the things they did to become millionaires when they’re in public office, but not okay for those who want to become millionaires to do those things?