The New York Times inviting the Clinton campaign to edit a transcript of a Clinton interview before publication…. Many of the emails contain “snotty elitist comments that degrate religions and special interest groups Hillary Clinton has pretended to love…”
By Tim Stanley
October 14, 2016
The world’s focus is on Donald Trump’s attitude towards women, and rightly so. As his numbers dive, the Republican Party pays the price of nominating a candidate who was not only untested but actually refused to be vetted. There can be no complaints. They went with the “octopus” and they have to account for him.
But the Trumpites have some cause to grieve the fact that his troubles eclipse Hillary Clinton’s. WikiLeaks is slowly releasing emails allegedly hacked from the account of John Podesta, the top man in the Clinton campaign. If Hillary was running against anyone else, they would receive far greater attention – great ammunition in the hands of a political professional. There have been no smoking guns as such, no confession from Hillary that she shot JFK or faked the moon landings. But the emails do betray the institutional attitude that surrounds her. It’s an ethos that she’ll be bringing to the White House in a few weeks time.
There’s that view of ethnic minorities as constituencies to be bought and sold: Latino politicians are bracketed as “needy Latinos” in need of a kind word. Former governor Bill Richardson might be “a d*ck*” writes Podesta but it is worth “getting him in a good place” by being nice to him.
Sanders supporters were, in the words of former party official Mark Alan Siegel, “sometimes self-righteous ideologues” who should be allowed to think they had an impact at the convention so that they “go home happy and enthusiastic in working their asses off for Hillary.” Clinton shifted to the Left in the primaries in order to court these ideologues. Speechwriter Dan Schwerin wrote to Cheryl Mills, a top adviser, to say that they were trying to find a way “to leak her opposition” to an oil pipeline “without her having to actually say it and give up her principled stand.” A cynic might say that no stand is principled if you’re thinking about contradicting it through backchannels.
Then there’s her relationship with the media. It’s pretty adversarial in some places, but there’s an implication that the campaign has a good relationship with individual journalists that can be put to use. Conservatives will doubtless be anxious about the New York Times inviting the Clinton campaign to edit a transcript of a Clinton interview (the communications director signs off with “Pleasure doing business!”) and the implication that the campaign might have helped place stories in the NYT’s pages. Again, Democrat-sympathisers might call it business as usual – but the WikiLeaks emails have been interpreted by some to show that Clinton received warning about a primaries debate question in advance. The claim is heavily disputed.
In March 2015, Team Clinton also appeared to strategize the release of emails requested by a congressional subpoena. And in May of last year, Brian Fallon, a spokesman who previously worked at the Department of Justice, wrote that “DOJ folks” had informed him about an upcoming status hearing. This suggests he was in touch with them.
Then there’s the money. There’s always money involved when it comes to the Clintons. In 2014, Hillary sent an email to Podesta that included the claim that “the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia… are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.” Qatar was a donor to the Clinton Foundation. In 2012, Ami Desai wrote that the Arab state “would like to see [Bill] ‘for five minutes’ in NYC, to present $1 million check that Qatar promised for [Bill’s] birthday in 2011.” Rwanda also came up – Desai wrote that while Bill was in Africa if there was anything they wanted the former President to do they should just “let us know.” This was the same year that the US government cut aid to Rwanda over its links to conflict and human rights abuses.
Isn’t all of this a case of a politician being caught out being political? Maybe. In fact what’s arguably more important is what we discover about the candidate’s philosophy – a subject obscured by decades of U-turns and reinventions. And what we find ought, in usual conditions, to galvanise the Right. Leaked transcripts of speeches to Wall Street execs have Hillary gushing about a borderless future in the northern hemisphere. She’s happy about capitalism, at home among the corporations. She wanted to criticise Sanders’ views on Wall Street but her team discouraged it.
They did, however, wade into the culture war – the issue about which Hillary is most radical. In the WikiLeaks emails, John Halpin of the Center for American Progress writes to Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri to express dismay at conservative Catholics: “It’s an amazing bastardization of the faith. They must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations and must be totally unaware of Christian democracy.” Podesta and a Left-wing activist kicked around the idea of a Catholic spring: “in which Catholics themselves demand the end of a middle ages dictatorship and the beginning of a little democracy and respect for gender equality in the Catholic Church.”
These are not the views of Hillary herself, but it’s the company she keeps. In the second debate she talked without reservation about shifting the Supreme Court to the Left. This is not triangulation but a reflection of the cultural atmosphere within which she works and lives. For the Democrats, “Catholic” is a label like “Latino” – it means little more than “group I need to be seen to be nice to”. It’s considered a largely ethnic label, too. There’s little engagement with Thomistic theology in the WikiLeaks archives.
Cause for alarm? I’d be alarmed. I’m a Catholic. But if Trumpites are frustrated that all of this isn’t making the headlines then they need to put it into perspective. Everything Team Clinton has been exposed as doing is within the boundaries of what Americans are used to. It’s unappetising – but it’s normal. Everything Trump has been exposed as doing is well beyond that realm. Attention will only properly focus on Hillary when the election is over. Her win would thus be a disaster from the moment that it’s announced. She’s going to spend four years explaining herself.
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