- - Monday, September 19, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

What a difference a week makes. A week after Hillary Clinton stumbled, both literally — at a Sept. 11 memorial — and figuratively — by calling half of Donald Trump supporters “a basket of deplorables” — polls show that the race for the White House is essentially tied.

While Hillary falters, Mr. Trump is picking up speed. His series of pro-growth proposals announced last week indicates that his new campaign team is keeping him on message and preventing him from speaking off the cuff. But let’s not kid ourselves. The outcome of the presidency will turn on whether any of Hillary’s brewing scandals boil over into the mainstream.

These scandals have been well-covered — from setting up a private email server to seemingly accepting donations to the Clinton Foundation in return for political favors to blaming the Benghazi attacks on a YouTube video. They go all the way back to her 100 fold profit trading cattle futures, which she explained away with the pedestrian excuse of reading The Wall Street Journal.

What hasn’t been widely addressed, however, is the psychology behind such perpetual scandals. A new documentary that hits theaters later this month called “Clinton Inc.,” which I had the opportunity to see an advance screening of, gives a behind-the-scenes look at the Clintons, their unique marriage arrangement, and how it has influenced their political actions and controversy.

The documentary, produced by Doug Sain, who also produced “2016: Obama’s America,” follows the lives of Bill and Hillary Clinton from childhood to the 2016 presidential election. It seeks to find out what drives the Clintons. Are they guided by love, ambition, charity, or greed?

To answer these questions, “Clinton, Inc.” — derived from Daniel Halper’s New York Times bestseller — is told through the eyes of various individuals who know the Clintons well and come from both ends of the political spectrum, including Democrats. Dick Morris, a former Clinton pollster who has since grown critical of the family, is featured prominently in the movie and explains that the Clinton marriage has devolved into a mutually beneficial business arrangement with financial and political motivations trumping familial and physical ones.

Mr. Morris and other featured commentators do admit that love is an enduring part of the Clinton marriage, but concede that other factors — ambition and greed among them — figure prominently. The movie portrays the Clinton arrangement as a layered and complex marriage, but a loving marriage nonetheless. (Not unlike Frank and Claire Underwood in the Netflix series “House of Cards.”)

As “Clinton, Inc.“‘s screenplay moves forward the tone of the story grows increasingly ominous. In this way, it follows the Clinton marriage over time — from an affectionate bond to a power dynamic motivated by money and beset by baggage of all kinds. Perhaps the foremost of which is Bill Clinton’s long history of extramarital affairs, which weigh on his wife but ultimately fail to persuade her to end the marriage.

After detailing the former president’s many affairs — which the movie traces back to the early 1970s — “Clinton, Inc.” ultimately transitions to a discussion of the couple’s beleaguered Clinton Foundation. For good reason. The foundation has solicited $25 million from Saudi Arabia — holder of a notorious human rights record — while flooding the Clintons’ personal bank accounts. The family now has an estimated net worth well over $100 million, which “Clinton, Inc.” commentators suggest warrants a closer look.

“Clinton, Inc.” is one of three recently produced Clinton-related movies. “Clinton Cash,” based on Peter Schweizer’s book, focuses primarily on the pay to play money flooding the Clinton Foundation, while Dinesh D’Souza’s “Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party” traces the roots of the Democratic Party — from slavery to its most recent presidential nominee.

Yet “Clinton Inc.” is the most personal portrayal of them all, examining the ins and outs of a marriage with many complexities. In a sense, the movie brings you into their living room. And it leaves you with a better understanding of why Hillary is so scandal-ridden.

Though it’s still unclear whether one of Hillary’s scandals will be her downfall, it is clear that if that does occur, “Clinton Inc.” will be required viewing in American History 101.

Richard Berman is the president of Berman and Company, a public affairs firm in Washington, D.C.


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