If the foundation had put an end to that scourge, outraged conservatives likely would demand the death penalty for Bill, Hillary, Chelsea and their extended family.
Certainly that is the response one might guess from the outraged howls of protest emanating with the constancy and continuousness of a ticking clock from the campaign of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his surrogates. These GOP stalwarts demand with inquisitorial insistence that the Clintons and the Clinton Foundation be investigated because Hillary Clinton met with donors to the foundations while she was U.S. secretary of state.
This, Trump and his hyena chorus bray, is evidence of gross conflicts of interest and corruption on the part of the Clinton clan.
Well, if there were to be an investigation of the Clinton Foundation, presumably it would start by doing what I just did – combing through the Clinton Foundation’s Internal Revenue Service 990 tax forms and the foundation’s annual report.
If investigators did that, they would find that the members of the Clinton family receive no money from the foundation that bears their name.
In a sane world, that would make charges of personal corruption either absurd or surreal.
But we no longer live in a sane world.
If those investigators delved further into the Clinton Foundation’s tax forms or financial reports, they would find out how the foundation does spend its money.
Among the foundation’s priorities are initiatives aimed at encouraging American school children to eat healthier and exercise more, at improving educational and career opportunities for girls and women both in the United States and around the world, improving health care in developing nations and studying climate change and finding ways to mitigate its effects.
Put more simply, the Clinton Foundation is feeding hungry kids, trying to level the playing field for young girls, providing care for sick people and attempting to preserve the planet.
I have difficulty finding anything on that list that runs contrary to the United States’ best interests.
That makes the conflict-of-interest charges a stretch.
This is particularly true coming from a political party, such as the GOP, that loves to argue that private and philanthropic organizations, like the Clinton Foundation, should solve pressing public problems instead of relying on the government to do the job.
Don’t get me wrong.
There are reasons to criticize the Clintons.
I don’t much care for their devotion to selling themselves to wealthy interests in the form of speeches that bring them six-figure and seven-figure paychecks. The potential for quid-pro-quo understandings or misunderstandings is high there.
But those checks have gone to the Clintons personally – not to the foundation.
In my view, that makes it worse, but a guy such as Trump – who has slapped his name and face on everything but rolls of toilet paper in exchange for a buck – is hardly in a position to criticize the Clintons on those grounds.
I also wish the Clinton Foundation focused more of its attention and resources on correcting the worst sin of Bill Clinton’s presidency, the ill-conceived welfare reform initiative that has trapped millions of Americans in poverty and shattered nearly as many lives.
Here in Indiana alone, more than 20 percent of the state’s children live in poverty. Their hard lives and stunted possibilities can be traced back, at least in part, to Clinton’s welfare reform plan.
Those kids (and their parents and grandparents) could use some help – more than they’re getting now from the Clinton Foundation.
But that’s a discussion of priorities, not ethics.
The fact is the Clinton Foundation is doing good work and helping to make many people’s lives better.
That it has become a target of criticism is a sign that we live now in a world in which down is up, night is day and black is white.
For many conservatives and the most rabidly partisan Republicans, anything associated with the Clintons must be bad because it is associated with the Clintons.
If one of the Clintons endorsed the Sermon on the Mount, some rabid right-wingers immediately would denounce it.
After all, love, mercy and peace can’t be all that great if Bill and Hillary are in favor of them, right?
Thank goodness the Clinton Foundation didn’t fund or find a cure for cancer.