Saturday, December 15, 2007

Media Discovers Library Donors- Silent on Campaign Donors

The Washington Post is aghast today to discover that the governments of Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and other countries have contributed funds to some of the presidential libraries, including those of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. According to the Post's story,
Bill Clinton's presidential library raised more than 10 percent of the cost of its $165 million facility from foreign sources, with the most generous overseas donation coming from Saudi Arabia, according to interviews yesterday.

The royal family of Saudi Arabia gave the Clinton facility in Little Rock about $10 million, roughly the same amount it gave toward the presidential library of George H.W. Bush, according to people directly familiar with the contributions.

Hoqwever, the Post is not satisfied with this, and goes on to dig further into the sources of funding for presidential libraries. They discover that,
Spokesmen for Kuwait and Taiwan confirmed that each government has given the library $1 million. Both governments also donated to other presidential libraries. Kuwait contributed at least $1 million to the library of former president George H.W. Bush, and Taiwan gave $2 million to the Ronald Reagan library.

Calls to the other governments were not returned, and the Middle Eastern individuals could not be located for comment.

Jack Kuei, a press officer for Taiwan in Washington, said his government's donation "is a way to promote a mutual understanding and it's a kind of public diplomacy." Kuwaiti counselor Jasem Albudaiwi called his nation's contribution "a friendly donation from the people and the government of Kuwait to the cause of the library."

Personally, I cannot see the news interest in this story. Do foreign governments contribute to presidential libraries? Certainly, as this report confirms. Does this have any effect on American political decisions? Unless the library donations are used to pay back favors received while the president was in office, I would suspect it does not. Looking at a list of Reagan's foreign donors, this makes perfect sense. Japan and Taiwan were definitely beneficiaries of Reagan's muscular foreign policy, and he was known to be very strong in their defense. Therefore, their donations are unsurprising.

I would wish that the media focused on actual campaign funding issues- such as the Norman Hsu case that they have done their best to bury. Unless Senator Clinton is receiving money from her husband's library, then where said library's donations originate are really not anyone's business. If these are payoffs from her husband's years in the White House, then that is what the media ought to be investigating, but they did their best to kill any and all stories about Bill';s Asian money problem while he was President, so it is a little difficult now.

I suspect that the media has begun to realize that Hillary Clinton has some very serious problems as a candidate and since they are committed to getting a Democrat into the White House in 2008, they are trying to make certain that the Democratic nominee is not Mrs. Clinton, who has extremely high negatives and who would guarantee a high Republican turnout- she is despised and mistrusted by most Republicans. Since the media dares not attack Clinton too directly, I suspect this is a sideways strike to try to ensure that she is not the Democratic nominee.

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