Monday, February 04, 2008

The Clintons' Baptism by Uranium

Long before Roman Polansky expatriated himself to France, after having pleaded guilty in the United States to having had unlawful sexual intercourse with a thirteen year old girl, he made a short film called “Two Men and a Wardrobe” that might serve as a metaphor for our time.

The two men in the film carry with them wherever they go a cumbersome wardrobe that causes them no end of trouble. Seeing the men and the wardrobe, other people naturally try to avoid them. Such baggage, which separates the two from the common run of humanity, can only spell trouble.

The film is an allegory, and the beauty of allegories is that they sometimes mean more than one thing at the same time. If our checkered past could take form in some material object, a wardrobe would serve the purpose perfectly. The good thing about the past is that it usually lies tucked away beyond the notice of prying eyes. Occupying the realm of reason and the imagination, it is invisible most of the time, unlike the wardrobe the two men in the Polansky film must trundle around with them everywhere.

The same is not true of politicians and other public celebrities. They carry their pasts around with them, however cumbersome, where ever they go – to a press conference or to the beach.

Just before Sen. Barack Obama came to Hartford, Sen. Hillary Clinton told a rally in St. Louis that she and her husband had been seared by a baptism of fire. Her record was well known, whereas Obama’s was relatively unexamined, a point made earlier by former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, who noted that Obama did not have the support system commanded by the Clintons. In his remarks to Newmakers Live, Young seemed not to be anxious to throw Obama into the lion’s den.

"My opponent,” Hillary Clinton said, “hasn't had to go through that kind of baptism by fire. This is going to be open season once again, and we need to nominate someone with the experience and the fortitude and the know-how to take whatever they send our way and send it right back.”

The New York Times recently took a peak in a drawer of the Clinton’s messy bureau, and just look what popped out.

The Times reported that on Sept. 6, 2005 Clinton and a friend, Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra, paid a visit to Kazakhstan, whose ruler, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev, the paper described as a retrograde soviet leader “whose 19-year stranglehold on the country has all but quashed political dissent.”

The two were there to do business. Giustra was in hot pursuit of an exclusive deal to tap highly coveted deposits of uranium in Kazakhstan that could fuel nuclear reactors around the world. With a little help from friend Clinton, Giustra consummated the deal. The Times reported, “Within two days, corporate records show that Mr. Giustra also came up a winner when his company signed preliminary agreements giving it the right to buy into three uranium projects controlled by Kazakhstan’s state-owned uranium agency, Kazatomprom.”

The deal having been consummated, the Times reported, money began to flow from Giustra into Clinton’s charitable foundation: “Just months after the Kazakh pact was finalized, Mr. Clinton’s charitable foundation received its own windfall: a $31.3 million donation from Mr. Giustra that had remained a secret until he acknowledged it last month. The gift, combined with Mr. Giustra’s more recent and public pledge to give the William J. Clinton Foundation an additional $100 million, secured Mr. Giustra a place in Mr. Clinton’s inner circle, an exclusive club of wealthy entrepreneurs in which friendship with the former president has its privileges.”

To be sure, there is a tiny hitch to the deal, but it is nothing that the Clintons, baptized by fire, cannot overcome with a little silver tongued jaw jaw: Mrs. Clinton, running for president this year, is on record as having sharply criticized what the Times blithely calls “Kazakhstan’s poor human rights record.”

So then, Bill and his friend strike a business deal with a dictator, as a result of which the friend makes a bundle and passes along a few dollars to Bill’s charity over protestations of Bill’s wife. And the deal involves uranium that may be used in nuclear reactors.

Nice big bulging bureau there. And is it not astonishing that no one seems to have noticed the thing?

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