The Morning Jolt

‘Her Instincts Can Be Terrible’

An assessment of Hillary Clinton from the people who know her best:

“Speaking of transparency, our friends Kendall, Cheryl and Phillipe sure weren’t forthcoming on the facts here,” John Podesta complained in the March 2015 note, referring to Clinton’s personal lawyer, David Kendall, as well as former State Department staffers Cheryl Mills and Philippe Reines.

“Why didn’t they get this stuff out like 18 months ago? So crazy,” replied Neera Tanden, a longtime Podesta friend who also has worked for Clinton. Then, answering her own question, Tanden wrote again: “I guess I know the answer. They wanted to get away with it.” . . .

“We’ve taken on a lot of water that won’t be easy to pump out of the boat,” Podesta wrote to Tanden in September 2015, at a time when Clinton’s campaign feared that Vice President Biden was about to enter the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. “Most of that has to do with terrible decisions made pre-campaign, but a lot has to do with her instincts.”

Tanden responded, “Almost no one knows better [than] me that her instincts can be terrible.”

Speaking of endorsements, Colin Powell is endorsing Hillary Clinton — not that surprising, as he endorsed Barack Obama over John McCain in 2008 and over Mitt Romney in 2012.

We know from leaked e-mails that Powell’s not such a big fan of her, either:

“I would rather not have to vote for her, although she is a friend I respect,” the former secretary of state wrote Democratic donor Jeffrey Leeds on July 26, 2014.

“A 70-year person with a long track record, unbridled ambition, greedy, not transformational, with a husband still d–kng bimbos at home (according to the NYP),” reads the explosive e-mail obtained by the Web site DCLeaks. Hillary is actually 68.

“Everything HRC touches she kind of screws up with hubris. I told you about the gig I lost at a University because she so overcharged them they came under heat and couldn’t [pay] any fees for awhile. I should send her a bill,” Powell griped.

“Wanted to get away with it.” “Her instincts can be terrible.” “Unbridled ambition.” “Greedy.” “Everything she touches she screws up with hubris.” All of these assessments from people who are on her side would make for one heck of a devastating ad.

Are the WikiLeaks Revelations Starting to Become a Genuine Public Service?

I recall during the revelations about Edward Snowden and the extent of the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance programs, a lot of the national media coverage was in the tone of, “Ed Snowden: Hero or Traitor?” As if he could only be one or the other, as if his actions had to be completely good or completely bad, as if the National Security Agency could only be sinister and Orwellian or a critical line of defense against threats and terrorism around the globe.

Grown-ups can realize that sometimes stories don’t have heroes. Snowden indisputably violated his oath, violated the law, and gave every enemy of the United States new knowledge and insight in how the NSA attempts to track and monitor them. The talk that he deserves a presidential pardon is nonsense. At least seventeen of the major disclosures from Snowden have nothing to do with the U.S. government collecting information on American citizens but involve the U.S. and its allies monitoring foreign citizens overseas, which is completely legal. Not only is the NSA’s successful interceptions of communications of Russian President Dimitri Medvedev not a scandal; it is literally the NSA’s job, and now the Russians have a better idea of what messages were intercepted and when.

But the NSA and the Obama administration were clearly violating the spirit of the Fourth Amendment with their far-reaching data collection. Your metadata says a lot about you, and if the federal government can collect as much as it wants without a warrant, the term “unreasonable search and seizure” means nothing. President Obama went out and told the public that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is “transparent“ when it is nothing of the sort. The FISA court is an effective rubber stamp; in 33 years, the government made 33,900 surveillance requests to the court; the FISA court declined 11 and modified several dozen. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper claimed he “misunderstood” a yes-or-no question while under oath before Congress and “accidentally” denied the U.S. was collecting data on millions of Americans.

None of this would have come to light without Snowden’s actions, and the public good of revealing an unconstitutional, far-reaching, intrusive surveillance program monitoring law-abiding American citizens. Whether or not that justifies his obvious crimes is in the eye of the beholder.

Julian Assange’s claim to have the American public’s best interest at heart is even more implausible. But even a bad guy’s actions can have good consequences. And perhaps at some point, we will reach the point about whether the WikiLeaks hacking of Podesta’s e-mails has revealed enough genuine scandals, exchanges and actions that the American public deserves to know, to mitigate their reputation.

For example, what should Americans call it when a future presidential candidate promises a foreign leader a public appearance for a donation of $12 million? Bob Woodward called it “corrupt.” How should Americans feel knowing the Qatari government offered a $1 million check to Bill Clinton for his birthday?

We now know Bill Clinton “is personally paid by 3 cgi [Clinton Global Initiative] sponsors, gets many expensive gifts from them, some that are at home etc.”

What should Americans think when Huma Abedin writes in spring 2015, “She’s going to stick to notes a little closer this am, still not perfect in her head.” Trouble memorizing a particular message? Or some lingering problems from a concussion years earlier? Or telling her staff she didn’t remember calling herself a “moderate Democrat” in an interview a few days earlier?

And while Julian Assange’s past actions, rhetoric and worldview is indisputably anti-American . . . at what point does this leak do a genuine service to the American people?

As our old friend Mark Hemingway pointed out, John Podesta’s e-mails offer a vivid, unflattering portrait of how our government, the hangers-on, the high-powered lobbyists and lawyers and the media interact.

Over a period of weeks, the shadowy WikiLeaks organization has been releasing hacked copies of Podesta’s emails dating back years. WikiLeaks almost certainly has ties to Russian intelligence and is obviously up to no good. The requisite caveat lector thus applies. But so far, every email under scrutiny appears to be genuine.

And what a story they tell. America’s greatest novelists could not have concocted a tale that so perfectly confirms dark suspicions about how the liberal elites running America really operate. Taken in total, the picture Podesta’s emails present is of a man whose tentacles are adroitly moving all the levers of power. In retrospect, Podesta’s casual attitude toward Clinton’s email problems doesn’t look oblivious—it looks prescient. Why should he worry about disgrace for Hillary Clinton when he and his friends in politics, business, and the media dictate what becomes a scandal?

In this respect, Podesta’s emails help explain why the FBI ignored basic procedure, destroyed the computers of Clinton aides in “side agreements” to their immunity deals, and then refused to charge Clinton for egregious violations of laws governing classified information.

The Trump-Pence Campaign Scheduler Isn’t Even Trying Anymore

Yesterday, Donald Trump held a campaign event at his golf course in National Doral Golf Club in Miami. Today, he attends the ribbon-cutting ceremony for his new hotel in Washington, D.C. and on Friday he’s holding a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, a state he has never led.

Meanwhile, Mike Pence is in Salt Lake City, Utah, today, trying to hold off Evan McMullin, spending Thursday in Omaha, Nebraska — presumably to keep Hillary from winning any one of the congressional districts and stealing an Electoral Vote, the way Obama did in 2008 — and then spending Friday in Pennsylvania, a state Trump has not led any poll in since July.

ADDENDA: Freedom Partners unveils a new map tracking the largest health-insurance premium increases under the Affordable Care Act. 

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