Life in Hillaryworld is a lot like life in Oz. The former first lady says she knows what a tough life many Americans lead because she and Bill "came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt." She should tell that to Toto. A lot of folks in Kansas would think hard times in Oz look pretty good.
"As I recall," Mrs. Clinton told Diane Sawyer of ABC-TV, "we were something like $12 million in debt. What we faced when he got out of the White House meant that we just had to keep working really hard."
But hard work in Hillaryland doesn't mean a 60-hour workweek and a second (or even third) job. No waiting tables for tips or scouring the want ads every morning searching desperately for a chance to make a few bucks. No aching back or sore feet at the end of the day. That's what millions of Americans in Kansas (and 49 other states) have endured over five years under Obamanomics.
Recent college graduates, for example, face a 16.8 percent underemployment rate and the prospect of having to pay back an average student-loan debt of $30,000. For them, "dead broke" actually means "dead broke," and struggling to figure out how to pay the rent.
A typical tough day for Mrs. Clinton means checking in to a five-star hotel suite with just time enough for a long bubble bath and a massage after a long flight on a private jet. There's barely time to relax before heading to a corporate boardroom for cocktails and a speech that might require a full hour or even two. But then it's off to the bank to cash the check for the $200,000 speaker's fee. If she gets there after the bank closes, there's probably something left over from the $500,000 her husband got for a speech the night before.
Bill did in fact put a strain on the family budget with his lawyers' fees — high jinks and low life in the Oval Office were expensive — but with the proceeds of only a few dozen speeches that would have been all taken care of, and besides, Mr. Clinton's presidential pension of $200,000 every year (with free health care and a Secret Service detail) surely helped some.
Writing speeches is not always easy — writer's block and all — but the former president will get $157,000 to pay for secretarial help and $9,000 for a telephone this year. The taxpayers will pick up the bill for $450,000 on his 8,300-square-foot office in Manhattan, and an additional $123,000 for computers, printers and office equipment and furniture. Mr. Bill has billed the U.S. Treasury $15,938,000 for the services of America's favorite ex-president (according to a CNN poll). That surely eases the remembered pain of being "dead broke."
Still, it was hard work for Hillary. "Well, let me put it this way," she told ABC News. "I thought making speeches for money was a much better thing than being connected with any one group or company — as so many people who leave public life do." It's better to be connected to the companies that pay her to speak, such as Goldman Sachs, Fidelity and the National Association of Realtors, some of whom may be anticipating cashing in on their investment if she makes it back to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
The Clintons have nearly always lived in public housing, counting the years in the governor's mansion in Little Rock, since they were married years ago. So she could have lost perspective, trying to imagine life among the common folk. Now she knows what being "dead broke" feels like, even when she was living pretty high on the hog.