Illustration by ALEX FINE
BUSINESS INSIDER: Hillary Clinton’s multimillion dollar fortune has caused some negative headlines during the media tour for the release of her new book “Hard Choices,” which is widely seen as a prelude to a potential 2016 presidential campaign. Clinton responded to criticism of her wealth in an interview with the Guardian newspaper published Saturday night by suggesting Americans won’t be concerned about the more than $100 million her family has reportedly earned in recent years because they’re not “truly well off.” “They don’t see me as part of the problem,” Clinton said of Americans who are upset about income inequality. MORE
THE GUARDIAN: By refusing to acknowledge her wealth, Clinton continues in an American tradition of defining “middle class” as whatever one’s family is worth, regardless of the country’s actual average or median income. But whereas that misidentification has usually been aspirational – 40% of Americans making under $20,000 a year still say they’re middle class – Hillary’s denial only reminds the less well-off of their delusion. […]
The GOP often accuses the Democrats of trying to stir up class warfare, but successful wealthy politicians know that artful rhetoric can keep the dividing line from being exactly between the haves and have-notes and, rather, between the care-about-you’s and the don’t-care-about-you’s. That division allows both Democrats and Republicans to leverage class anxiety, at varying levels of sincerity and policy relevance. The Republican argument has long relied on social issues as a proxy for economic ones: the care-about-you line meant “cares about your religion and values”. But as income inequality grows between now and an election that’s still 868 days from now, even the GOP will have to reckon with anxieties far more tangible than the gay agenda and feminazis. Between 2008 and today, the number of conservatives identifying as lower class has grown from 19% to 32% – a sharper increase than either among independents (24% to 30%) or liberals (29% to 33%).
Class insecurity among conservatives could finally trump those already tired social issues and make income inequality the wedge issue the Obama White House has half-hoped – and half-warned – that it could be. But the mantle of class warrior has always fit poorly on Hillary’s shoulders. When she said in 2007 that lobbyists “represent real Americans”, it gave Obama an early opportunity to turn her experience in Washington into a synonym for entrenched interests. (As David Axelrod said at the time: “I can’t say I’ve ever heard a more fulsome defense of lobbyists before.”) The missteps on the $225,000-a-speech Hard Choices campaign echo that fundamental problem with Hillary’s first run at the presidency: she is an insider who claims to be an outsider. MORE
WASHINGTON POST: As Philip Rucker wrote Sunday, “She and her husband are established members of the 1 percent, leading lives far removed from the millions of middle-class voters who swing elections.” MORE
THE GUARDIAN: Hillary’s a lot like Mitt Romney in her lack of self-awareness – except she pays her taxes. (Though even that distinction is shrinking; last week brought the news that the Clintons have used trusts to shimmy out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in estate taxes, and Chelsea isn’t helping anything.) MORE
BUSINESS INSIDER: Chelsea Clinton’s wealth also made headlines earlier this month after Politico reported she earned a $600,000 salary as a “special correspondent” for NBC News, a sum Business Insider noted seems to amount to $26,724 for each minute she was on air. MORE