Angel Urena, a Clinton spokesman, said the former president "engaged with students at Laureate's campuses worldwide and advised Laureate's leadership on social responsibility and increasing access to higher education." Adam Smith, a Laureate spokesman, said Clinton "was paid to advise Laureate, inspire students and visit the campuses and communities they serve, and that's what he did, with great conviction and energy."
I'm not even sure what to say, or what to ask. The question of influence-peddling aside (and I guess it can't really be put aside, because once you've done that, what's left?), is there anything that can justify this kind of money for this kind of "engagement" and "advice"? Setting aside what this says about the role of money in U.S. politics (and, once again, I realize that's probably the central question, but I'm trying to get to the issues appropriate to this blog, and the ones that are, honestly, hitting most close to home for me), what does this say about the U.S. system of higher education, and about Americans' view of the U.S. education system's role in the world? Are we*** now engaged in peddling knockoffs of what once was (and to some extent still is) a great American-made "product" to the rest of the world? Am I missing something that would make this revelation okay, or even slightly less dispiriting (please?)
*No, not Stein, though I appreciate the need to make the distinction. 4 nationwide candidates: 2 male, 2 female, 1 of each gender from major/established parties, and 1 of each from smaller parties. That sounds about right -- representative of the population, at least in one way -- and is one of the bright spots that periodically bring some cheer to an otherwise dreary political year.
**And no, I'm not going to do the math to compare this amount with what I made over those 5 years, or my projected lifetime earnings, or the accumulated lifetime earnings of several generations of my generally well-educated, reasonably prosperous, immediate family, many of whom work(ed) in jobs that fall under the general headings of public service and/or education, but some of whom were in more lucrative, business-related fields. Because that would be really, really depressing.
***We as a nation, because we who read and comment on this blog -- including our members who work or have worked in the for-profit sector -- seem determined to keep producing the real thing, even at considerable personal cost.