At a Democratic presidential debate in Iowa last month, Hillary Clinton was challenged to account for the fact that a large proportion of her campaign fundraising haul has come from the financial sector. She responded with a non sequitur about 9/11. Asked to elaborate, she seemed to argue that her popularity in the finance sector is primarily a result of personal relationships developed in the aftermath of that tragedy in lower Manhattan.
This is a ludicrous response, designed not to actually convince anyone but to change the subject. It’s also a repulsive response, bringing to mind the worst demagoguery of the Bush era, and the debating tactics of world-historical assholes like former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. (Seriously, it’s straight from Giuliani’s playbook, and even Republicans had gotten tired of that shit circa eight years ago.)
For those who wished to give the Democratic frontrunner the benefit of the doubt—maybe she was chastened by the response to her statement and regrets it?—Clinton has just made that as difficult as possible. In an interview taped yesterday and released today by CBS, Clinton repeats the exact same pseudo-justification for her Wall Street-heavy donor base.
“I have stood for a lot of regulation on big banks and on the financial services sector. I also represented New York and represented everybody from the dairy farmers to the fishermen...And so, yes, do I know people? And did I help rebuild after 9/11? Yes, I did,” Clinton said.
It now seems unlikely that her original invocation of 9/11 was some sort of mistake or misguided extemporaneous remark. It seems more likely that it was, in fact, a rehearsed—and focus-grouped, probably—rhetorical maneuver. In this instance, this week, she’s not even bringing up 9/11 as any sort of explanation; she just drops it in, unbidden, to remind people that she held political office on That Fateful Day.
There are many far less reprehensible ways to spin your banker connections. Clinton and her campaign are smart enough to have thought of most of them. The fact that they’re sticking with this one is a pretty clear indication of the amount of respect they have for the Democratic electorate.