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Despite populist rhetoric, Clinton clings to secrecy

WASHINGTON – The conservative-oriented Rasmussen poll found last week that 57 percent of its respondents believe that Hillary Rodham Clinton has already won the Democratic presidential primary and the 2016 presidential election as well.

The same survey shows voters have troubling questions about the former New York senator, but they anticipate she will win anyway.

This calls to mind words of two great thinkers: Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who coined the phrase “willing suspension of disbelief” two centuries ago, and David Riesman, who once taught at the University of Buffalo Law School, as well as Harvard and Chicago.

Riesman co-authored the book “The Lonely Crowd” and popularized the phrases “other directed,” for people whose decisions are framed by groupthink, and “inner directed,” meaning those who are more guided by principle, even prejudice.

“Willing suspension,” the grist of good drama, and groupthink are basic ingredients in all successful presidential campaigns.

But until Clinton’s new campaign, no major contender since Abraham Lincoln has made such a tight pivot from a life of fabulous wealth and privilege to a performance of humble guy. (Lincoln, portrayed in 1860 as a once-penniless log-splitter, had become wealthy as a lawyer for the Illinois Central Railroad.)

In Clinton’s case, Rasmussen’s poll suggests that likely voters have already cast off worries that she will continue to be manipulative and secretive about who she is, what she did as secretary of state and what she will do as president of the United States.

The Clinton campaign has suddenly swiveled from private jets and limousines to flying coach and riding in a van. Clinton has segued from earning millions in speaking fees from corporate groups, Goldman-Sachs and Carlyle Group, and colleges like the University at Buffalo, to a woman newly outraged at the 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision, which allows secretive unlimited campaign gifts from corporations and unions.

For all her populist bearing, Clinton clings to secrecy. During her Iowa trip, wire services reported that all electronic devices were collected before her huddles with folks.

Her accumulated wealth is unknown: The blog 24/7 Wall Street pegs it at $55 million. She insists the fees went to the family’s charitable foundations. But the Nonprofit Quarterly, which tracks private giving, said it is not possible under the law to see what she has done with the money. In addition, the gifts from universities may be recycled donations from undisclosed wealthy contributors.

“Her speaking fees from nonprofit and public universities raise questions about what the universities or some of their well-heeled donors might want from the Clintons,” the nonpartisan Nonprofit Quarterly observed.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is not yet impressed with Clinton’s precipitous lurch to the left after milking globalists for the last two years.

“It’s not what she says, but what she does,” Sanders told a group of Bloomberg editors. “Is Hillary Clinton, are other candidates, prepared to take on the billionaire class? Based on her record, I don’t think so.”

“The only hope that I see,” he said, “is a strong grass-roots movement that says ‘enough is enough.’ The country belongs to all of us, not just the billionaire class. Do I happen to think that’s Hillary Clinton’s politics? No. No I don’t.”

Even the left-leaning Politico said Wall Street managers, who had been raising money for her, aren’t taking her new criticisms of financial markets seriously.

“It’s just politics,” one broker told Politico, anonymously.

Sanders said he may enter the Democratic primary against her, but he will need money. Clinton’s campaign has set a 2016 campaign goal of $2.5 billion.

email: dturner@buffnews.com