Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Sun Queen

During the reign of Louis XIV, the Sun King, the most desired post in the court was for the man who helped the King put his shirt on in the morning. The reason for this has modern implications.

If you were a wealthy person in 17th century France and you wanted to make an appeal to the King you could go through official channels but it was unlikely that it would reach the king and if it did it was likely to be lost among similar appeals. Plus every step of the bureaucracy expected a bribe to expedite your request.

But there was a short-cut. The person who helped Louis dress was also the first person he spoke with each day. Louis made sure to choose someone he liked and trusted. So, that person was ideally placed to put a word in the King's ear. And he did. His fees for doing this were high but it was a way to bypass the bureaucracy. He couldn't guarantee how the King would act, only that your message would reach the King's ear.

That's how the Clinton Foundation acted during Hillary's term as Secretary of State. You could try going through normal channels but there was a short-cut for Clinton Foundation donors. The head of the Foundation had a direct line to Hillary's chief assistants. That didn't mean that Hillary would act on your request. Sometimes it was outside the control of her office. It also meant that you had a good chance at arranging a a personal meeting with the Secretary of State. Who knows what happened then?

Hillary has said that this issue is all "smoke but no fire" but she has a long and complicated relationship with the truth. The important thing is that donors to the Clinton Foundation didn't have to play by the same rules as the rest of us.

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