She Just Doesn’t Get It

Hillary Clinton remains on the defensive over her claim that when she and former President Bill Clinton left the White House, they were “dead broke …”

What’s troubling about Clinton’s comment is that she really seems to believe what she said.

She just doesn’t get it.

Years ago, a friend of mine made it clear that, at the time, he didn’t get it, either.

I’m not certain I’d have been able to pay for college had I not landed jobs with the Department of Highways for two summers in a row.

There were four of us, referred to by the permanent DOH employees as “the college boys.” Except for operating heavy machinery, we did the same work they performed. Unless you’ve ever spent 10 hours a day in August shoveling “hot mix” asphalt out of a dump truck, spare me the jokes about leaning on a shovel.

Like the older guys, we worked hard. And that, one afternoon as we were taking our lunch break, prompted my friend to comment, “Well, at least now we know what it is to do physical work for a living.”

“No, boys, you don’t,” responded the DOH veteran with us. He was about 55 years old, with white hair and the ruddy, chiseled face you get by working outside during all four seasons.

“You boys know that in a couple of weeks, you’ll be going back to college,” he told us. “I won’t.”

He was right. And that’s what Clinton doesn’t get.

We college boys may have been working hard for a few weeks, but we knew it wouldn’t be that way for long. Our lives would change.

My DOH friend’s would not. We could not possibly understand working hard for a living, he taught us.

I and the young guys with whom I was working got it. We’d learned a valuable lesson, that life isn’t just where you are at any given time. It’s also where you know you’ll be going.

That’s what Clinton doesn’t seem to understand. She really believes she can empathize with people who have little or no money, because for a very brief period of time, she and Bill may not have had much in their bank account.

But they always knew for a certainty that would change. They knew that if they needed a few hundred thousand dollars in a hurry, a couple of phone calls would take care of it. They knew they would be earning more for the few hours’ work needed to make a speech than most people earn in a year.

For the record, the Clintons are worth somewhere in excess of $100 million.

In a very real way, they were filthy rich when they left the White House – and both of them knew it.

Clinton can’t seem to understand why her “dead broke” comment upset so many people. It’s because she was implying – and rest assured, she meant to do so – that she understands the trials and tribulations of most Americans.

The very fact she made the statement is evidence she does not. But it also indicates she isn’t very thoughtful.

My old DOH friend has been gone for some years, now. I wish he’d been alive earlier this month. I can imagine how he’d have reacted to Clinton’s thoughtless, stupid comment.

I remember how he described some people:?”Dumber than a fence post.”

Myer can be reached at: mmyer@theintelligencer.net.