© Josh Sager – October 2016
Last Friday was, arguably, the worst day in presidential campaigning in modern memory. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton suffered leaks that, in any other race would end their political careers, never mind lose them the election.
While the media has covered the Trump leak to exhaustion, few media sources have made any effort to cover the Podesta Leaks, or their ramifications in the case of a Hillary presidency (an increasingly likely probability). Given the proximity of the leaks, I’m pretty sure that this is by design, and that the Hillary campaign had been sitting on the damaging Trump tapes to release at the end of the race or a day that they needed to disrupt the news cycle—my suspicion that this was coordinated by Hillary staffers and not Trump staffers is simply a function of my complete lack of faith in the self-control and forethought of the Trump campaign.
None of these leaks alter the arguments that I made in my previous article, explaining why I am voting for Hillary as the lesser of two evils in the 2016 race.
Trump Exposes his Sexual Predation
A tape of b-reel from Trump’s reality career has surfaced, in which he joked that his status as a rich celebrity allowed him to “grab them [attractive women] by the pussy” and where he admitted that he had forced kisses on women in the past. The 2nd half of this video has been confirmed, as several women have come forward with stories of him kissing them without (or against) their consent.
Honestly, my opinion of Trump was completely unaffected by the release of this tape and I find it amazing that people are treating this like a giant shock. Sure, he showed himself to be a misogynist, possible sexual predator, and crass idiot, but anybody to have paid attention during the last year already knew that.
Trump is a reprehensible human being. He (allegedly—no charges were proven in court) raped his wife Ivana after her plastic surgeon did an unsatisfactory job on his hair plugs and has repeatedly made truly repugnant comments about women. In addition to his record on women, he has called for torturing suspected terrorists and killing their families, speculated about nuking parts of the Middle East, and engaged in blatant calls to violence and racial hatred.
Anybody who needs this tape to decide not to vote for Trump is either shockingly ignorant or has distorted priorities—they find it more offensive that Trump is crass than they do that he is openly calling for torture, murder, and using nuclear weapons as a weapon of first strike against civilian areas.
Podesta Leaks Reveal Hillary’s Inner Monologue
Wikileaks has released a large trove of documents, hacked from the email account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta. As Hillary’s top campaign official and the leader of the Podesta Group, a lobbying firm that stands to gain a great deal from a Hillary presidency, Podesta has extremely close access to Hillary and his emails exposed a great deal about her political calculations.
While many claim that these emails are fake or were invalid because they were obtained by the Russians, both of these are red herrings. Podesta admitted that his email was hacked and the most damaging claims would be easily refuted by Hillary releasing the full speeches that they were sourced from—she has refused to do this. Additionally, the source of the information is irrelevant to their content and I would fully stipulate that the Russian ARE trying to fix the election in favor of Trump, but that this doesn’t excuse any bad acts exposed.
There were thousands of emails posted, most of which are benign and irrelevant. That said, several are truly devastating, starting with a document produced by Clinton PR workers that details parts of paid Hillary speeches that need to be covered up or “given an extra scrub.” Just from a political perspective, the person who decided to produce this document was an idiot and needs to be exiled from working on any political campaign in the future—he created the perfect attack document that could be used against his employer, and then sent it via email.
Here are the worst sections of this email:
- Hillary admits that she has a “public” policy position that she uses while campaigning and a “private” policy position that represents what she pushes for in “back room discussions” While we all assume that this is how politics works and Hillary is by no means special in this regard, it is rare that we have a politician admit to her donors that she is being two-faced while campaigning. Even if we want to believe her on an issue (e.g. free college) this admission throws doubt on her plans because we never know if this is an issues where there is a disparity between her “private” or “public” positions and whether she is simply lying to us to get votes while working against us in “back room discussion.”
“But If Everybody’s Watching, You Know, All Of The Back Room Discussions And The Deals, You Know, Then People Get A Little Nervous, To Say The Least. So, You Need Both A Public And A Private Position.”
–Hillary Clinton, 4/24/13, National Multi-Housing Council
- Hillary argues that Wall Street Bankers are the most competent experts to decide how to regulate Wall Street because they know the most about the system. This comment is astonishingly stupid and anybody with even a rudimentary understanding of public policy can see its flaws. Self-regulation by the industry is a right wing talking policy priority that helped produce the 2008 housing crash. The people who work in the industry may know the system the best, but they also have an incentive to rig the rules in their favor (e.g. players may know a sport their best, but we don’t let them referee their own games), regardless of whether these rules open the rest of us up to fraud and exploitation, or even whether it destabilizes the entire economy.
“The People That Know The Industry Better Than Anybody Are The People Who Work In The Industry. I mean, it’s still happening, as you know. People are looking back and trying to, you know, get compensation for bad mortgages and all the rest of it in some of the agreements that are being reached. There’s nothing magic about regulations, too much is bad, too little is bad. How do you get to the golden key, how do we figure out what works? And the people that know the industry better than anybody are the people who work in the industry.”
– Hillary Clinton, 10/24/13, speech to Goldman Sachs
- Hillary supported free trade deals like the TPP and argued against “protectionism and other barriers to market access” These quotes validate the fears of many progressives that Hillary is actually in favor of the trade policies that led to so much outsourcing in the past. It is apparent that Hillary’s “public” position against free trade deals is different from her “private” position in favor of them and the only question now is to determine who she is lying to. In a best case scenario, she is lying to donors in order to get their money and will betray them once on office; in a worst case scenario, she is lying to us in order to get our votes and will push the TPP once elected.
“There is so much more we can do, there is a lot of low hanging fruit but businesses on both sides have to make it a priority and it’s not for governments to do but governments can either make it easy or make it hard and we have to resist, protectionism, other kinds of barriers to market access and to trade and I would like to see this get much more attention and be not just a policy for a year under president X or president Y but a consistent one.”
–Hillary Clinton, 5/16/13, speech to Banto Itau
- Hillary said that it was “politicization” and “oversimplification” to blame American banks for the global economic crash of 2008. The banks engaged in long-term, systemic, fraud and overleveraging that brought down the economy, and hold virtually all of the blame for the crash. I’m sure that this isn’t a popular position in a room full of bankers, and saying it is a surefire way not to get invited back to give another $250,000 speech, but it is simply the truth.
“That was one of the reasons that I started traveling in February of ’09, so people could, you know, literally yell at me for the United States and our banking system causing this everywhere. Now, that’s an oversimplification we know, but it was the conventional wisdom. And I think that there’s a lot that could have been avoided in terms of both misunderstanding and really politicizing what happened with greater transparency, with greater openness on all sides, you know, what happened, how did it happen, how do we prevent it from happening?”
–Hillary Clinton, 10/24/13, speech to AIG
- Hillary promoted single payer and public healthcare systems in her private speeches, while attacking Bernie Sanders in the primary by calling his single payer aspirations unrealistic and unreasonable. Hillary’s “private” position on universal healthcare is, apparently, very close to Bernie’s but she was willing to drag their shared position through the mud during the primary in order to score political points against him. This is actually a mixed negative/positive, because it gives some hope that she may push for more progressive reform on healthcare now that she doesn’t benefit from attacking the progressive healthcare position in order to fend off a more progressive primary challenger.
“If you look at countries that are comparable, like Switzerland or Germany, for example, they have mixed systems. They don’t have just a single-payer system, but they have very clear controls over budgeting and accountability. If you look at the single-payer systems, like Scandinavia, Canada, and elsewhere, they can get costs down because, you know, although their care, according to statistics, overall is as good or better on primary care, in particular, they do impose things like waiting times, you know.”
–Hillary Clinton, 6/17/13, speech to ECGR Grand Rapids
In effect, the emails released by Wikileaks validate many of the claims that Bernie supporters have made about Hillary’s character and history. Several progressive outlets have picked up on this fact (e.g. The Daily Beast published an article titled “Leaked Podesta Emails Show Bernie Was Right: Better Late than Never”) and even some more mainstream print outlets recognized it (e.g. Reuters arguing that this “appeared to confirm their [Bernie supporters] fears” even though the Hillary campaign has refused to confirm the email’s validity).
In addition to the email detailing some of the more damaging aspects of her speeches that need to be hidden (ironically, her staffers did a great job compiling them), there were several other leaked documents that raise significant questions.
One document indicates that the DNC and Hillary staffers had a concerted strategy during the primary of not marginalizing the GOP’s most extreme candidates. They called these extremists “pied piper” candidates and (correctly) asserted that they could drag the rest of the field so far to the right that they were unelectable. Rather than ignore these extremists, it was their plan to “elevate” them to the top of the race and to request that their media allies not attack these extremists during the primary.
While I can see the political sense behind this game of chicken, the fact remains that this tactic is very effective…until it works. The GOP nominated a lunatic who actually had a very good chance of winning until he began spouting an endless stream of self-sabotaging nonsense. In particular, this tactic is galling because much of the Hillary campaign has focused on how we need to vote for her because Trump is so extreme and dangerous.
Wikileaks has promised to release new material every week until the election and there is a very good chance that this is not even the most damning material they release about Hillary—after all, putting the most damaging leaks first would render the rest largely anti-climactic, and this leak was largely downplayed, with Wikileaks not even holding a press conference to announce it.
While it appears that Trump’s leak is sinking his campaign, we don’t know what future leaks will contain, and it is still possible that Assange drops a bomb in the coming weeks that really hurts Hillary’s campaign. If this happens, we may wake up on November 9th, realizing that our country just elected a bloviating sexual predator, with a history of running his businesses into the ground and penchant for racist authoritarianism to the highest office of the land.