Monday, October 10, 2016


The Lincoln cabinet as pictured by the pro-slavery press in 1864; drawing by John Cameron, via Wikipedia.
When WikiLeaks sends out a new document dump on a Friday evening, also known as the "death slot" because it's where you make a news release when you're hoping nobody will read it, that could be a sign that the organization doesn't have a lot of confidence in the news value of the material.

That seems to be the case with this latest dump released Friday night (shortly after the Access Hollywood pussy-grabbing video, I think), featuring emails presumably hacked by Russian intelligence personnel and associated with John Podesta, chairman of the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign (and not, contrary to Julian Assange, in "control" of the Podesta Group lobbying firm, which he co-founded with his brother Tony in 1988 but hasn't been involved in for years). There isn't a whole lot of thereness there.

The centerpiece of the thing is a document apparently collated by or under the direction of Tony Carrk, research director of Hillary For America, in 2015 during the Democratic primary campaign, consisting of passages from some of those 2013 paid speeches of which the transcripts have never been released, though the Sanders forces kept demanding it. The excerpts flag moments that might look to the left opposition like evidence that she's in cahoots with the forces of corporate evil: telling the banksters, in particular, what she really thinks while publicly telling all us liberals she's one of us, so it looks as if the campaign gathered them as part of the process, maybe, of deciding whether to release them or not—how damaging would it be? Or maybe of preparing for the storm that would follow after they were released; each passage contains some phrase or clause that could be pulled out of the context to make it seem as if she was revealing some horrible secret plan to her audience, and there's a helpful headline telling the reader how opponents will read it (could be the headlines were supplied by the hackers, though):

And so on.

It looks as if the media have focused on the headlines and not read the actual excerpts, just as the campaign must have feared they would. For example on the second one above, Martha Raddatz in last night's debate:

RADDATZ: Thank you, Mr. Trump. I want to move on. This next question from the public through the Bipartisan Open Debate Coalition’s online forum, where Americans submitted questions that generated millions of votes. This question involves WikiLeaks release of purported excerpts of Secretary Clinton’s paid speeches, which she has refused to release, and one line in particular, in which you, Secretary Clinton, purportedly say you need both a public and private position on certain issues. So, Tu (ph), from Virginia asks, is it OK for politicians to be two-faced? Is it acceptable for a politician to have a private stance on issues? Secretary Clinton, your two minutes.
CLINTON: Well, right. As I recall, that was something I said about Abraham Lincoln after having seen the wonderful Steven Spielberg movie called “Lincoln.” It was a master class watching President Lincoln get the Congress to approve the 13th Amendment. It was principled, and it was strategic.
And I was making the point that it is hard sometimes to get the Congress to do what you want to do and you have to keep working at it. And, yes, President Lincoln was trying to convince some people, he used some arguments, convincing other people, he used other arguments. That was a great — I thought a great display of presidential leadership.
"As she recalls" is good. She's gone back and studied it, clearly, or else has an even better memory than I imagined. What she said in the speech (at a conference of the National Multi-Family Housing Council, a trade association of "apartment industry" interests, including ownership , development, management, and financing):
CLINTON: You just have to sort of figure out how to -- getting back to that word, "balance" -- how to balance the public and the private efforts that are necessary to be successful, politically, and that's not just a comment about today. That, I think, has probably been true for all of our history, and if you saw the Spielberg movie, Lincoln, and how he was maneuvering and working to get the 13th Amendment passed, and he called one of my favorite predecessors, Secretary Seward, who had been the governor and senator from New York, ran against Lincoln for president, and he told Seward, I need your help to get this done. And Seward called some of his lobbyist friends who knew how to make a deal, and they just kept going at it. I mean, politics is like sausage being made. It is unsavory, and it always has been that way, but we usually end up where we need to be. 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.
That is, her comments about having two different positions, public and private, are all about the Art of the Deal, and inarguably right.

Especially, you know, as they apply to that canny center-left politician Abraham Lincoln as he and Secretary of State Seward worked after the 1864 elections to get Congress to agree to the amendment abolishing slavery entirely and permanently throughout the Union (unlike the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1863, which only decreed that those persons enslaved in the Confederacy at that time were theoretically free). The skullduggery in question, as depicted in the Spielberg movie, involved Lincoln and Seward pretending to be negotiating for peace more seriously than they actually were to gain support from New York Congressman Samuel "Sunset" Cox, who in turn pretended to oppose the amendment, voting against it, even as he worked behind the scenes to whip colleagues into voting for. Haven't seen the film myself and don't know if it highlights the actual bribery Seward conducted in the process, which was pretty disgusting and which I would hope a President Hillary Clinton would avoid.

The general point is quite correct, though, as I've argued at length with reference to Obama and marriage equality. What the president thinks is bound to be somewhat ahead of what the president is ready to say to the people; there needs to be some distance between the person who is the president and the public institution of the presidency, a committee the president chairs and which he publicly represents, with all the necessary diplomatic caution. As Lincoln knew very well.

If Trump, the famous dealmaker, doesn't know it, that in itself would be disqualifying.

The other bit of speech I'd want to focus on wasn't mentioned in the debate, but has been making a lot of noise in otherwise respectable sources, such as NPR, where the public-radio equivalent of stupid Chuck Todd, Ron Elving, was saying on Saturday,
[Trump] is also very likely to bring up what we have learned in the last 24 hours from a Wikileaks release that includes emails that were apparently hacked and given to Wikileaks, which indicate that some of the speech material that she has not been willing to release - the Goldman Sachs speech and so forth - we don't have this actually authenticated. We don't know that this is real. But it seems to indicate that she spoke in friendly terms about open borders and open markets to Goldman Sachs.
Question to Radio Yerevan: Is it true that Hillary Clinton spoke in friendly terms about open border and open markets to Goldman Sachs?

Answer: In principle, yes. Only first of all, she was speaking to the Chilean bank Banco Itaú; second of all, she wasn't talking about opening the Mexican border in 2017 but creating the kind of Pacific Union I myself hoped that Trans-Pacific Partnership might ultimately develop into, years in the future; and third of all, the focus was on the possibility of using the hemispheric cooperation in a movement for green and sustainable energy use:
*Hillary Clinton Said Her Dream Is A Hemispheric Common Market, With Open Trade And Open Markets. 
*“My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders, some time in the future with energy that is as green and sustainable as we can get it, powering growth and opportunity for every person in the hemisphere.” [05162013 Remarks to Banco Itau.doc, p. 28]
And I still think so. 

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