THE SPINE JANUARY 23, 2008
Is this a real business deal? Or is it a gift from Bill Clinton's enamored billionaire friend Ron Burkle, who's in the supermarket business, specifically, and the investment business, more generally. If it's a gift, which means that Clinton didn't really work for the $20,000,000 the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday he's about to get, than Burkle should be rapped with a gift tax somewhere above $10 million.
Jonathan Kaufman's piece is very vivid, and without making any untoward accusations there is a strong suggestion that Bill did not labor for this big sum -- big, even by Burkle's standards. In any case, Clinton seems to be burdened by a quite realistic anxiety that the deal would cause Hillary trouble because of the questionable financial ethics of her husband. So he's trying to get his arrangement done and the payment made.
The first Clinton pre-presidency began with tacky money arrangements. And, alas, so does the second, if this is a pre-presidential moment.