Why The 20,000 Pages Of Clinton Emails Aren’t As Important As Your Right-Wing Friends Think They Are


If there’s a one-word summary of the problems that bedevil the Clinton campaign, it’s “email.” That word sums up all the trust issues that people have, and every pseudo-scandal that’s swirled around her since Benghazi and before have been a result of emails.

Over the last two weeks, the whistleblower website Wikileaks has unleashed a number of campaign emails for public consumption, and make no mistake — some of them are cringe-worthy. But here’s the big news: none of them revelatory. They add detail, sure, but they’re not an earth-shattering kaboom.

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“AWKWARD”

Among the quotes leaked over the past few weeks is a joke that Clinton told a gathering of Wall Street bankers in 2013:

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This quote was one of many quotes isolated and transcribed by the Clinton team under the header of “AWKWARD.” It’s also cringe-worthy and even stomach turning to be sure, and like the rest of the emails, paint the picture of a campaign that’s close to Wall Street.

But see, here’s the thing: we knew that already. This is not new information. And while this banter is cringe-worthy, it’s not nearly as toxic or damaging as Trumps “grab ’em by the pussy” remark — which wasn’t even filed under “AWKWARD” by his team.

In fact, the emails don’t reveal any major bombshells. Yes, there’s emails detailing the Clinton foundation’s questionable relationship with its donors. Cool. We’ve known that. There are emails that show her campaign is close to Wall Street. Yep, we knew that too. The emails are not some silver bullet that’s going to torpedo her campaign allowing Spray-tan Hitler to roll through (for which we should all be thankful). Instead, the emails are merely a detailed look a how the Clinton camp operates. It’s ugly, yes. It’s a picture of a systematic problem in American politics, yes. But they’re not reasons to vote for Trump.

As the Vox article that originally examined the emails notes, not all the emails are bad. In fact, “dozens” show a campaign that’s striving to find a correct position on any given issue, whether it be the issue of a carbon tax or forming the “signature pillars of a future progressive agenda” like a “significant middle-class tax cut.” There were also internal debates over the “Cadillac tax,” or the tax on the more expensive health care plans brought about Obamacare, and whether to keep or reform it.

It also won’t surprise anyone to know that she’s close to her donors and those donors tend to be wealthy billionaires on Wall Street. As the emails show, early on, Clinton didn’t pick up on the voter frustration with Wall Street, which is probably where a lot of this awkwardness comes from.

I won’t make excuses for jokes about rich people at soup kitchens, which is disgusting and stomach turning, and Trump has yet to have his “47%” moment, so I can’t compare. At the same time, though, I feel the need to drop this into some sort of context: Clinton’s remarks suggest a cluelessness about the struggles poor people actually face, which again, is not shocking. Any random remark by Trump will suggest cluelessness about reality in general, especially his inquiry into why we can’t just nuke our problems.

Which, I will remind you, is something he legitimately thinks about doing.

If there’s any sort of damning revelation out of them at all, it’s confirmation that the Clinton Foundation — which has done legitimate good in the world and even received an “A” grade from Charitywatch — did blur the line between private and public donations. However, even here in the emails, among what’s arguably the most “shocking” find, we see something interesting: Chelsea Clinton attempted to call attention to potential conflicts of interest, suggesting the Clintons themselves were aware that something was wrong:

Chelsea Clinton flagged “serious concerns” about her father’s closest aides trying to cash in by using the former president’s name to gain access to government officials on behalf of paying clients, according to hacked emails released this week.

The emails, which were disseminated by WikiLeaks, reveal bitter tensions within the Clintons’ inner circle that were inflamed when Chelsea Clinton tried to put an end to practices that blurred the line between the foundation, governments and a consulting firm called Teneo that paid Bill Clinton.

To some, this will reek of corruption, but to others, this just shows a problem systemic with all major organizations and their inertia against reform. The only reason this is special is because it has the Clinton name on it. This is despite that, as I noted before, it’s helped thousands and its major success has fixed one of the Clinton Administration’s biggest failures: the response to HIV/AIDs.

This is in stark contrast with Trump’s charity — which is an out and out scam. Or, in fact, everything about Trump, really, from his university to his veteran’s charity drive.

The last thing the emails revealed was office gossip, which, and let’s be honest here, is common in just about every workplace across the country. Anytime you have people who get on each other’s nerves, you will have gossip, if for no other reason than for venting. Clinton’s camp is no different.

And really, I think that’s Clinton’s biggest sin: she’s no different from any other politician. But, at the same time, a normal and skilled politician is exactly what we need — especially given we’ve got a runaway Oompah Loompah acting as the standard-bearer for the thoroughly American “kitsch fascism” of the alt-right, who are too stupid to even do proper fascism right.


Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

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