The emails released by Wikileaks supposedly containing emails with information about Hillary Clinton’s paid Wall Street speeches with exchanges between Hillary Clinton, her campaign chairman John Podesta and other parties only hurt Hillary Clinton. This statement on its surface appears either ridiculously obvious or blithy meaningless, but with a little explanation it becomes meaningful. Hillary Clinton has been constantly accused and is widely perceived as unprincipled and deceitful. And in at least some instances this accusation is correct. Especially as it pertains to her private email server.
Hillary Clinton did send and receive content which was marked as classified on her private emails. The email practices which she described as allowed, were not. She said she turned over all work-related emails to the FBI. Instead around 33,000 emails from her time as secretary of state had been deleted. The fact that this was done before any subpoenas had been issued is pertinent but almost beside the point. While Clinton claimed that there were security measures in place to secure emails on that private server, this does not appear to be true. Even though the FBI levied no charges on Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server her explanation of that use does not line up with the FBI’s description.
While some have described this server as a non-issue, this does not appear to be the case. It’s an issue because it highlights those features of Hillary Clinton which many take as deceitful. The mismanagement of such problems by Clinton and her campaign only serves to bring more attention to them. By attempting to limit information and limit access it appears to many that Clinton is trying to cover up wrongdoing, even where there may have been none.
Hillary Clinton’s use of a private emails was unusual, but hardly unique. Having her own server was pretty unique but not pernicious. It was more pragmatic than anything. And this is the vision of Hillary Clinton. She is a political realist. Throughout her political career she has dispassionately navigated the political system of the United States, many times seemingly preferring realism and incrementalism over a vision of change and hope. Hillary Clinton is not Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump, each of whom profess not simply change but a change in the system. The system which Hillary Clinton has become so adept at navigating. The system which Hillary Clinton wants to tweak rather than collapse. Hillary Clinton would be the pragmatic president.
This is not a vision shared by many Americans. A recent YouGov/Huffington Post poll showed that a majority of Americans want to “take the country in a different direction”. Hillary Clinton is promising more of the same, with a few, small changes. Yet the same poll found there is a simultaneous feeling of general contentment among Americans. In other words, Americans both want change and want things to stay the same, probably best explained by a partisan divide. Many young voters and Republicans are dissatisfied with the state of the economy while many Democrats believe the economy is headed in the right direction.
How does any of this tie into Hillary Clinton’s private email server and the recent release of some of those emails by Wikileaks? Almost half the country (if you take Donald Trump’s polling numbers) or the majority of the country (if you take Hillary Clinton’s favorable rating) are apt to perceive Hillary Clinton’s deceit and to distrust her actions and her judgement. Thereby, when emails are released purporting to contain evidence of her wrongdoing and deceit, many take those claims at face value. However, what is actually revealed in the excerpts are neither new nor revealing nor surprising. It’s pragmatic.
Below are three such excerpts from the Wikileaks release which have been reported on by the media, what some claim they demonstrate, and what the words actually show.
- Need to have a “private” and “public” position on certain issues : This shows that Hillary Clinton says one thing to the public while actually promoting a different position. The excerpt:
“*CLINTON SAYS YOU NEED TO HAVE A PRIVATE AND PUBLIC POSITION ON POLICY*
“*Clinton: “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.”* 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. And finally, I think — I believe in evidence-based decision making. I want to know what the facts are. I mean, it’s like when you guys go into some kind of a deal, you know, are you going to do that development or not, are you going to do that renovation or not, you know, you look at the numbers. You try to figure out what’s going to work and what’s not going to work. [Clinton Speech For National Multi-Housing Council, 4/24/13]”
Clinton is arguing that politicians need to work with businesses in order to affect policy and to effectively get things done. Which is correct. And most Americans don’t know and don’t care how policy is made.
2. Clinton wants a single-payer healthcare system as in Canada: What Hillary Clinton wants is a completely government-controlled healthcare system where American citizens have no control over their healthcare, will pay more more healthcare and have to wait for a long time to get life-saving operations. The excerpt:
“*CLINTON IS MORE FAVORABLE TO CANADIAN HEALTH CARE AND SINGLE PAYER*
“*Clinton Said Single-Payer Health Care Systems “Can Get Costs Down,” And “Is As Good Or Better On Primary Care,” But “They Do Impose Things Like Waiting Times.” *“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. It takes longer to get like a hip replacement than it might take here.” [Hillary Clinton remarks to ECGR Grand Rapids, 6/17/13]
“Clinton Cited President Johnson’s Success In Establishing Medicare And Medicaid And Said She Wanted To See The U.S. Have Universal Health Care Like In Canada.* “You know, on healthcare we are the prisoner of our past. The way we got to develop any kind of medical insurance program was during World War II when companies facing shortages of workers began to offer healthcare benefits as an inducement for employment. So from the early 1940s healthcare was seen as a privilege connected to employment. And after the war when soldiers came back and went back into the market there was a lot of competition, because the economy was so heated up. So that model continued. And then of course our large labor unions bargained for healthcare with the employers that their members worked for. So from the early 1940s until the early 1960s we did not have any Medicare, or our program for the poor called Medicaid until President Johnson was able to get both passed in 1965. So the employer model continued as the primary means by which working people got health insurance. People over 65 were eligible for Medicare. Medicaid, which was a partnership, a funding partnership between the federal government and state governments, provided some, but by no means all poor people with access to healthcare. So what we’ve been struggling with certainly Harry Truman, then Johnson was successful on Medicare and Medicaid, but didn’t touch the employer based system, then actually Richard Nixon made a proposal that didn’t go anywhere, but was quite far reaching. Then with my husband’s administration we worked very hard to come up with a system, but we were very much constricted by the political realities that if you had your insurance from your employer you were reluctant to try anything else. And so we were trying to build a universal system around the employer-based system. And indeed now with President Obama’s legislative success in getting the Affordable Care Act passed that is what we’ve done. We still have primarily an employer-based system, but we now have people able to get subsidized insurance. So we have health insurance companies playing a major role in the provision of healthcare, both to the employed whose employers provide health insurance, and to those who are working but on their own are not able to afford it and their employers either don’t provide it, or don’t provide it at an affordable price. We are still struggling. We’ve made a lot of progress. Ten million Americans now have insurance who didn’t have it before the Affordable Care Act, and that is a great step forward. (Applause.) And what we’re going to have to continue to do is monitor what the costs are and watch closely to see whether employers drop more people from insurance so that they go into what we call the health exchange system. So we’re really just at the beginning. But we do have Medicare for people over 65. And you couldn’t, I don’t think, take it away if you tried, because people are very satisfied with it, but we also have a lot of political and financial resistance to expanding that system to more people. So we’re in a learning period as we move forward with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. And I’m hoping that whatever the shortfalls or the glitches have been, which in a big piece of legislation you’re going to have, those will be remedied and we can really take a hard look at what’s succeeding, fix what isn’t, and keep moving forward to get to affordable universal healthcare coverage like you have here in Canada. [Clinton Speech For tinePublic – Saskatoon, CA, 1/21/15]”
Hillary Clinton has said a public option might be possible and would like to expand the Affordable Care Act but has not advocated for government-controlled healthcare. The Affordable Care Act has expanded healthcare coverage to over 90% of Americans while raising overall healthcare premiums very little. While some Canadians do travel in order to avoid wait times in their healthcare system the number who do so is miniscule.
In the excerpt Clinton talks about wanting to make healthcare more affordable, institute better regulatory procedures and to tweak the existing U.S. healthcare system in place under the Affordable Care Act in order to make it better. She used the single-payer system as an example of healthcare in which these aspects are better. And the Canadian healthcare system is better in many ways.
3. Hillary Clinton suggests she is a moderate: She has in the past claimed to be “progressive”, not a moderate. This demonstrates that she is willing to do and say whatever is necessary in order to get elected, even if she doesn’t believe it. The excerpt:
“*CLINTON SUGGESTS SHE IS A MODERATE*
“*Clinton Said That Both The Democratic And Republican Parties Should Be “Moderate.” *“URSULA BURNS: Interesting. Democrats? SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, long, definitely. URSULA BURNS: Republicans? SECRETARY CLINTON: Unfortunately, at the time, short. URSULA BURNS: Okay. We’ll go back to questions. SECRETARY CLINTON: We need two parties. URSULA BURNS: Yeah, we do need two parties. SECRETARY CLINTON: Two sensible, moderate, pragmatic parties.” [Hillary Clinton Remarks, Remarks at Xerox, 3/18/14]”
Hillary Clinton has said she was moderate and a centrist. First, there isn’t that big a difference between a moderate Democrat and a progressive Democrat. Second, Clinton has numerous liberal positions and policies. Third, Clinton is the most progressive candidate on the ballot. Fourth, the nominee with the broadest (centrist) appeal is most likely to win. If Donald Trump’s lack of broad appeal will prevent him from winning, as many claim, how could Clinton attempting to have broad appeal be a bad thing?
These new Wikileaks releases are nothing new. Every claim made by these excerpts fits into an existing narrative in this election. Those who dislike Hillary Clinton and do not trust her are apt to believe the narrative. Some of which is based on objective problems Hillary Clinton has and has perpetuated through mismanagement. And there is enough in these excerpts to add to that narrative, unless you actually read them. In which case they’re pragmatic.
But that is Hillary Clinton’s biggest problem. Her pragmatism seemingly obfuscates a message of change and hope that many want. These emails are a problem for Hillary Clinton because they confirm who she is.