As recently as 2004, the Obama family enjoyed merely the kind of upper middle class income ($250k) that many Americans could imagine themselves making if a few breaks had gone their way. This comprehensibility of the Obama family financial situation can put them at a PR disadvantage relative to the Clintons, whose finances are evidently way, way up in the Davos Man stratosphere, as Bill jets around with Ron Burkle and the like, introducing the odd mining magnate to his close personal friend the Grand Khan of Boratstan.
For example, consider the Obama house controversy revolving around Tony Rezko purchasing the adjoining empty lot for the full asking price at the same moment the Obamas were buying their house from the same seller for $300k off the asking price. I could imagine scenarios where Rezko`s “investment” in Senator Obama ranged all the way from $0 to a few hundred thousand dollars, but my best guest would be around $70,000. (This assumes that two participants in an honest deal would have split the discount off the list price proportional to their investments. Instead, the fixer apparently let the politician have the entire discount.)
Man, wouldn`t it be nice if some old buddy of yours slipped you $70k in return for all the favors you`ve done for him and will do for him over the years? That would be great! Or wouldn`t it be awesome if your spouse got a raise of something like $150k per year, plus a signing bonus of almost $50k because you`ve now got even more power over her employer? Can you imagine all the things you could do with that kind of extra money?
Yes, I can.
So, it`s easy for me to get in a huff over the Obama`s relatively human scale corner-cutting, while Clinton-level shenanigans are just the way of the world.
I really can`t grasp the kind of money Mr. Clinton rakes in for things like giving speeches to companies whose profits are heavily dependent upon votes by Senators like, say, Mrs. Clinton, such as the $250,000 that Citigroup paid Mr. Clinton for one speech in 2004. Now, Citigroup is currently desirous of Congress voting for a massive bailout of the financial industry, but I`m sure that kind of eventuality never crossed Citigroup`s mind when hiring Mr. Clinton. Instead, they clearly must have done a cost-benefit analysis of the value of Mr. Clinton`s oratory and saw that his wisdom was indeed worth $100 per second.
A long time ago I reported to an entrepreneur who for awhile had his own jet (I am told that that`s the dividing line between the merely affluent and the really rich), but riding on it was kind of uncomfortable because the thing was so obviously hugely expensive relative to his ample but still finite net worth (for example, you have to employ two pilots full time).
So, even though I`ve been around private jet-rich people in the past, the idea of me ever being that rich just seems oppressive, with two pilots sitting around all day at the local airport drinking coffee, waiting for me to come up with some place to zoom off to where I can make enough money to keep paying them to drink coffee. Yeeesh. So, I never think about having that kind of money.
But if you are Bill Clinton, you don`t even have to bother owning a jet because zillionaires are constantly offering to lend you their private jets for free.
But I do think now and then about the 8,000 stock options I had in a company where I worked. They had a strike price of 14. I`d had them for years, but the stock was usually trading a little below $14. One day in the 1990s, I checked the stock price on a whim for the first time in months and it had gone up to 19. Wow, I should pick up the phone and cash cash them in for $40,000! But, then, I had an even better idea — I`ll just wait until the stock hits 20. A nice round number! It`ll probably get there by tomorrow. But, as I watched the computer screen, the stock slipped to 18 7/8, 18 3/4, and so on. Within a few weeks, it was underwater and never resurfaced.
That`s the kind of number I can dwell upon, like that $70,000 I`m guessing was Obama`s cut from Rezko.
Bill Clinton doesn`t get out of bed for $70,000.
This whole Clinton-Obama financial scandal comparison makes me feel like some poor 19th Century Russian peasant. That the czar has rooms full of rubies and diamonds is simply the natural order of things, but that my neighbor has a cow while I have none is an outrage.