The DNC Email Leaks: The Gift That Keeps On Feeding Distrust
There is a lot to be angry about in the Democratic National Committee’s recently leaked internal emails: allegations of the Russians hacking the DNC computers; WikiLeaks gleefully publishing the raw documents; Bernie Sanders (called “paranoid” when he’d complained of unfair treatment from the DNC) finally vindicated; and the downfall and resignation of that smug, awful Debbie Wasserman Schultz. It would all be funny if it weren’t so sad.
First, though, I don’t think the “Russians” were officially involved. It just wouldn’t make political sense. As my friend the State Department whistleblower Peter Van Buren said recently, “People are claiming the Russian government risked something close to war to hack DNC emails to embarrass [Hillary] Clinton after her own email shenanigans and to help [Donald] Trump, who maybe would win in November and who maybe would make decisions favorable to Russia? You realize that’s what has to be true for this [Vladimir] Putin scenario to be true, right? We’re back to the 1950s, accusing politicians of being in league with the Russians.”
Even if the Russians did interfere, which I doubt, I wouldn’t blame them. After all, the CIA told the Pike Committee, which was investigating CIA malfeasance in the mid-1970s, that it had sought to “influence” the 1948 Italian elections by donating $1 million to center-right parties there and by publishing forged letters in an attempt to discredit leftists and communists. Dastardly, yes. But that’s what intelligence services do to one-up their enemies and opponents. Like it or not, it’s a fact of life.
But that’s not the issue here. The issue is that the DNC colluded and conspired to favor the Clinton campaign and deny Bernie Sanders the Democratic nomination for president. The DNC’s actions were Nixonian, and they read like an account of that shamed president’s actions from a chapter of “All the President’s Men.” As Van Buren points out:
• The Clinton camp, for example, asked the DNC to explore ways to spread a rumor that Sanders was an atheist to hurt him in religious areas.
• Debbie Wasserman Schultz will be replaced as DNC chair by (only now the former) CNN commentator Donna Brazile. Brazile argued the pro-Clinton side of debates on CNN throughout the primary season. In the hacked emails, Brazile said, “I will cuss out the Sanders camp!” over complaints by Sanders of inadequate representation by the DNC. In March while still employed by CNN, Brazile called Sanders’ decision to run as a Democrat for the additional media exposure “extremely disgraceful.”
• On “60 Minutes,” Clinton refused to say intervention by the DNC to favor one candidate over another was “improper.” Her non-answer was edited out of the interview broadcast. The video is no longer available on the CBS site.
Politics is certainly a tough business, and it’s not for the faint of heart. I get that. But we’re a country of laws, and we’re supposed to honor and respect the idea of fair play. The parties should have learned a valuable lesson from Nixon’s dirty campaigns in 1968 and 1972, when opponents’ wives were threatened and the Republicans conspired to get the weakest Democrat nominated.
The Clinton campaign, though, apparently didn’t get the message.