HILLARY CLINTON’S GOT TALENT

The mind boggles at the thought of what embarrassing information lurks in Donald Trump’s hidden tax returns. Are his public pretensions to great wealth at odds with his use of Form 1040-EZ? Does he list his public relations alter ego as a dependent? Is he claiming Crisco Christie as a charitable deduction? Do his medical expenses include metacarpal implants?

You are welcome to speculate, but, alas, I can solve only one mystery at a time. Today’s revelation is a secret that Hillary Clinton has been keeping from the world. Actually, it’s a bit less of a secret now than it was several days ago. Up until a couple of days ago, anyone who saw Donald Trump being savagely skewered on television would have thought that the speaker would be John Oliver or Trevor Noah. Both of those guys took this week off. The sight of someone who vaguely resembled Hillary Clinton delivering such a beat down would inevitably conjure up memories of Amy Poehler or Kate McKinnon on Saturday Night Live.

It was live all right, but it was Thursday afternoon, and it was from San Diego rather than New York. And it really was Hillary Clinton, giving what had been billed as a foreign policy address but was actually much more of a standup comedy routine. She killed [1]. For many people, it was the first sign that she is a remarkably talented performer. But I, and some others, already knew that.

Secretary Clinton has not yet released transcripts of her very well-paid speeches to the upper strata of the top one percent. Her refusal to do so has prompted many to wonder what she had to say that could have been worth two hundred thousand dollars or more [2]. While I have been unable to obtain any of those transcripts, I have come into possession of a DVD of her remarks to the good folks at Goldman Sachs. Actually, “remarks” is quite an understatement, and even “performance” damns her with faint praise. The lady put on a show, demonstrating onstage versatility that Liza with a Z would have envied.

I am unable to post the DVD online [3], so I will summarize it. Her entrance set the tone. An ornate bed [4] was wheeled onstage to the tune of “Money Makes the World Go ‘Round”. The covers were lifted to reveal the star, whose first action was to grab and gleefully count out a pile of bills that had been placed conspicuously on an adjacent nightstand. The counting concluded, she emerged from the bed clad in an outfit straight out of “Cabaret” [4].

She segued seamlessly into a tribute to Madeline Kahn, beginning with an homage to Lilly von Schtupp from “Blazing Saddles”. The refrain was changed from “I’m tired” to “Retired”, and the song explained that she had planned to devote her post-Senate years to housekeeping, babysitting, and needlepoint until Debbie Wasserman Schultz broke into her house and forced her to seek the Presidency. She followed up with a forward-looking revision of a number Ms. Kahn performed from Sondheim’s “Company”, called, “Not Staying Married Today”. In this version, she and her trusted aide Huma Abedin [6] interrupted the Inauguration ceremony to have the Chief Justice annul their respective marriages to former President Bill Clinton and Congressman Andrew Weiner.

The crowd roared throughout a quick change, from which Hillary the Entertainer emerged wearing the very latest pants suit from the Ellen DeGeneres collection and began her monologue. She began by thanking those assembled for the Faberge eggs at breakfast. Then she speculated as to why it was that she had to report the money they had paid her as a speaking fee, when they all knew it was an investment. From there, she went off on a riff imagining herself as a hedge fund, extolling the virtues of the “carried interest” fiction by which fund managers minimize their tax liability on the billions they make investing other people’s money.

That led to a discussion of capital gains. “If a grocer buys chicken from a farmer and sells it at a profit, the grocer pays ordinary income tax on his store’s profits. The grocer will also pay self-employment taxes on those profits, and will be expected to collect and remit sales tax on any sales to the public. I promise that you guys will continue being able to pay lower capital gains tax rates on the stuff you sell. And there won’t be any pesky FDA, or Elizabeth Warren, inspecting your merchandise”. After a bit more in that vein, she closed the segment with, “My primary opponent insists that I have been bought by Wall Street”. Raising her voice to its trademark (“Is the microphone not working?”) level, she continued, “But we know that’s not tru! You’re only RENTING me [7]”.

A brief intermission gave the audience the opportunity to purchase some beverages, snacks, and additional access. When the show resumed, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee appeared wearing a sequined evening dress. She delivered her economic platform a la Billie Holliday, singing “God Bless the Child” [8]. By this point, those seated in the first few rows were shouting, “Encore!” and tossing money clips and inside information onto the stage.

Bidding her fawning fans adieu, the literal and figurative showstopper apologized for having to leave for another highly remunerative engagement, but promised that “Bill will be here next week to discuss the Clinton Global Initiative IPO”.

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1. In the standup sense of the word, by which I mean that she slayed the audience, not that she was personally responsible for the death of Vince Forster or five Americans in Libya. Calm down Donald.

2. One theory is that she took a page from her Republican opponent and sold money-making secrets. Unlike the curriculum at Trump University, her advice would have been worth maxing out one’s credit cards. Wouldn’t you want to know how to make a fortune trading cattle futures by having a friend wait until the end of the day to allocate the most profitable trades to your account? Just like Trump University, the Clinton seminar requires an application process that pretty much begins and ends with a writing sample starting with, “Pay to the Order of”. There is, however, absolutely no truth to the rumor that Ms. Clinton’s curriculum includes any secrets from the Rose Law Firm billing system. Those tricks may have been cutting-edge when Chelsea was a baby, but legal billing standards have evolved considerably. As anyone who has received an invoice from a law firm in the past decade knows, there is no manner of chicanery, no matter how duplicitous or conniving, that isn’t fairly customary by now.

3. not so much due to bandwidth restrictions as to an injunction obtained by the Walt Disney Company, which somehow managed to secure all rights throughout the entire universe for all time (with options to renew for additional eternities)

4. clearly labeled, “Do not remove from Lincoln bedroom”

5. My apologies to the LGBT community for using the word, “straight”. Whatever was I thinking? I must have lost my mind. I should be dragged off in a “breeder” jacket.

6. played by a remarkably versatile Mindy Kaling

7. Yes, she really did say, “RENTING” in capital letters.

8. The lyric begins “Them that’s got shall get. Them that’s not, shall lose”, and doesn’t get any better after that.

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