John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

Surviving Billy Beer

Posted on July 13, 2017
In 1977, Billy Beer was a thing.

Jimmy Carter had just got elected to office, and the Fall City Brewing Company had the bright idea of brewing a special beer in honor of the new President.

Well, actually, not the President.  The President’s brother, Billy.

Billy Carter endorsed Billy Beer. That was one of the things that the President’s brother tried to do, in order to capitalize on his brother’s influential new position.

Billy Carter was also hired a lobbyist for the country of Libya, who reportedly had loan the Presidential brother $200,000.  In the aftermath of Watergate, came Billygate..

Jimmy Carter was an outsider who had few friends when he came to Washington with the expressed goal of cleaning up the Washington swamp.   Carter never cleaned up the swamp, but Washington sure was able to make a laughing stock of his infamous brother.

When the Clintons came to town, Roger Clinton’s musical and acting career magically took off.    He was the President’s half-brother, and he wasn’t going to allow this opportunity pass him by.  His Secret-service codename was “Headache” because of all the scrapes with the law, including a conviction for cocaine addiction.   His rock band was so good, it got invited to play in North and South Korea.

Not to be outdone, the siblings of Hillary Clinton also sought to make a few bucks off their famous brother in law.  One failed venture in the Republic of Georgia revolved around selling hazelnuts on behalf of a Georgian politician who was close to the Kremlin.  Another successful venture involved getting well-heeled criminals, including a notorious drug-dealer, pardoned by the President.

Neil Bush, President George W. Bush’s brother and George H.W. Bush’s son, caused hot water for his dad and his brother.  First, a Denver-based Savings and Loan called Silverado went bust.  Neil served on its board and was found to be guilty of  "breaches of his fiduciary duties involving multiple conflicts of interest.”  The President still went forward with a plan to bailout all the S&L’s despite the bad optics.

Second, when his brother was elected, it was found that Neil was paid close to two million dollars in stock for a company that was owned by the son of Chinese Premier Jiang Zemin.

In all of these cases, close family members embarrassed or otherwise brought dishonor to their more famous siblings or parents.

This is a well-worn path taken by many in past Administrations.

Almost all of these scandals were big deals at the time, harped on by the media and seized upon by the political opposition.

None of them had more than a passing impact on the trajectory of the Presidency.

I look at the meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya as just another sideshow in the long history of Washington side-shows.

I don’t see that a meeting taken by the President’s son to see if he could somehow get information about his father’s opponent’s campaign as all that significant.

I appreciate the Russians may have attempted to manipulate the Presidential election, but I have serious doubts that it had much of an impact.

If it was the Russians that told Hillary Clinton to not have any plan to ease the economic struggles of working class Americans, well, then we are on to something.

If it was the Russians who told Hillary to call a huge chunk of the American people “deplorable” well, then we might have conspiracy.

If it was the Russians who convinced Hillary to be the most boring, uninspirational candidate in my life-time, well, then we should blame the Russians then.

Donald Trump Jr. is no rocket scientist.   And the fact that he met with Veselnitskaya in the hopes of furthering his father’s Presidential campaign is hardly evidence of treason.

The President was smart not to bring his sons into the White House.  He should rethink about bringing any family members into the White House.  It makes things needlessly complicated.

It was the great mayor of Chicago, Richard J. Daley, who once said, “If a man can't put his arms around his sons and help them, then what's the world coming to?”

It’s a good question.  What is the world coming to?

I don’t have an answer.  But I do know that the world won’t end because Donald J. Trump had a short meeting with a Russian lawyer close to Vladimir Putin.

We have seen this kind of stuff before, and somehow we have all survived.

If we can survive Billy Beer, we can survive anything.