If not for the fact that her opponent is Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton would almost certainly be losing this election. As it is, Republicans have hardly had a chance to capitalize on Clinton’s multitudinous e-mail scandals, so busy have they been defending and apologizing for their gaffe-prone presidential nominee.
In a more ordinary year, WikiLeaks’s “October Surprise” might have been the nail in the coffin for the Democrats’ unusually unpopular candidate. Instead, the trove of stolen e-mails released by the anti-secrecy organization has mostly gotten lost amid Trump’s horrific sexual-harassment and -assault allegations. Still, the latest leaked campaign documents are damning in their revelation that the Clintons are exactly what their always nemeses feared: back-stabbing, calculating, venal, and opportunistic. Regaining the public trust will be an uphill battle, and perhaps an impossible one, in this political environment.
While there is no smoking gun that should prevent Clinton from becoming president, the latest WikiLeaks e-mails are unrelenting in their portrayal of Clinton as a purely political creature. Alongside banal griping about Chelsea Clinton’s micromanagement of the Clinton Foundation, or John Podesta’s obsession with U.F.O.s, are less savory e-mails highlighting how the 2008 Clinton campaign discussed attacking Barack Obama for his past use of cocaine. In another, campaign strategist Joel Benenson and press secretary Brian Fallon explicitly debate when would be the best time to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline. “She risks looking very political, especially on this,” Benenson wrote. Elsewhere, Clinton bemoans being unable to publicly defend fracking and natural-gas extraction. “Get a life,” she wrote, referring to environmental activists. The latest exchange to make headlines Monday includes an e-mail from Podesta, sent days after the San Bernardino terrorist attack, in which the Clinton campaign chair lamented that the shooter, Syed Farook, was not a white man—a message that her right-wing critics seized upon as proof that she had an anti-terrorism agenda driven by political correctness.
The most problematic e-mails, which were stolen by hackers that the Clinton campaign alleges are connected to the Russian government, suggest that President Barack Obama himself may have been aware that Clinton was using a private e-mail server, contrary to State Department regulations. “Think we should hold emails to and from pouts?” Podesta wrote to Clinton campaign lawyer Cheryl Mills, hours after Clinton was issued a subpoena by the Justice Department. “That’s the heart of his exec privilege. We could get them to ask for that. They may not care, but I seems like they will. ” The perception of high-level collusion between the Clinton campaign and the Obama administration was bolstered Monday by a separate F.B.I. report claiming that the State Department “pressured” them into declassifying information from some of the e-mails seized off her secret servers.
As usual with the Clintons, there is the impression of impropriety, but no clear wrongdoing. Clinton’s defenders have rightly pointed out that the smoke-filled rooms revealed by WikiLeaks are nothing new. Such criticisms of Clinton have existed for decades; only naïfs will be shocked at seeing the political process—the bartering, the equivocating—laid bare. It’s the same standard skullduggery that her right-wing opponents, surely including Donald Trump, engage in on a regular basis. Yet it is still uncomfortable to see Clinton revealed as the consummate political operator. Possibly the most damning e-mail, containing excerpts from one of the paid Wall Street speeches she refused to release to the public, confirms the electorate’s suspicions that Clinton maintains “both a public and a private position” when it came to making financial policy.
Nobody likes to see how the sausage gets made. In an election where vast swaths of the electorate are fed up with politics as usual and ready to revolt against elites, the latest leaked Clinton campaign e-mails represent all that ordinary Americans resent. Surely this was the point of stealing them, for the hackers who broke into John Podesta’s account, and for WikiLeaks, which seeks to expose government secrecy and humiliate the powerful. It also furthers the Kremlin agenda of undermining faith in U.S. political institutions, weakening the democratic system that underpins the legitimacy of the American government. Likely, Clinton will still become the next president on November 8. But the fleeting possibility of winning back the public trust has been damaged, irreparably.
source : vanityfair.com