By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

The Wikileaks DNC email dump is Putin’s latest gift to Trump

Trump's running mate. Official Kremlin photo (cc) 2014 via Global Panorama.

Trump’s running mate. Official Kremlin photo (cc) 2014 via Global Panorama.

The job of the party infrastructure is to win elections. Democratic and Republican party officials regularly recruit candidates and punish weaker contenders who refuse to get out of the way. So the Wikileaks revelation of emails showing that the Democratic National Committee talked about helping Hillary Clinton and hurting Bernie Sanders mean exactly nothing. One email suggested that Sanders be attacked on the grounds that he might be an atheist. That’s pretty vicious stuff, but it didn’t happen.

Top Democrats believed that they were more likely to lose in November with a 74-year-old socialist at the top of the ticket than with Hillary Clinton, however flawed she may be. You’re free to disagree, but that was their judgment, and it’s not insane.

Outraged Sanders supporters might also keep in mind that the Wikileaks email dump is almost certainly a favor to Donald Trump from the Russian government, even if Wikileaks wasn’t directly involved. What we’ve already learned about the Trump-Putin connection would have been enough to force a presidential candidate to step aside in past election cycles. Now no one seems to care.

Meanwhile, Trump is back to claiming that Ted Cruz’s father may have been involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

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  1. The point where I think things went wrong was the pre-candidacy run-up for Hillary Clinton (I think it was called “Ready for Hillary”). I think the field should have more open, so that other strong Democratic candidates could have felt it was okay for them to run, too. I feel that we got a flawed candidate foisted on the electorate, and I think the Democratic Party could have done better.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Diana, I’m surprised that no one stronger than Sanders emerged to challenge Clinton. But who? I honestly can’t think of anyone who would have made her break a sweat any more than Sanders did.

      • Dan Kennedy

        Deb, if it turned out that North Korea had sent nuclear weapons directly to the Trump Tower, Republicans would claim that Clinton had them first.

        • We’re doomed

          • Dan Kennedy

            Yes, we are. Clinton will probably win easily, but the fact that we’ve reached this point is proof that our system of democracy no longer works. It probably hasn’t for some time, but it took Trump to expose its rotten infrastructure.

          • I don’t want to suck all the oxygen out of your comments section, but I do feel the need to say that what Trump’s ascendance exposes the hollowness of the GOP more than our system as a whole. He wouldn’t be possible if that party had decided what it stood for and then actually acted in accordance. They’re a great example of why you need to be judicious about who you let into your tent and what you offer to get them there.

      • Andrew Cuomo? Joe Biden? I have a somewhat hazy recollection of a number of potential candidates letting it be known that if Clinton was running, they would not enter the race.

        • Dan Kennedy

          Biden was willing to run against Clinton, and he’s all but said he would have if not for the death of his son. Personally, I think Clinton would have wiped up the floor with either Biden or Cuomo. I think Sanders did much better than either one of them would have. And I like Biden a lot.

      • Biden waited to see if something or other would weaken Clinton before he decided, as I recall it, and it didn’t happen — but I agree that Biden’s son’s death made a campaign impossible for Biden (and I would say, as a neutral observation, that after that personal loss Biden has seemed a lot older), that Biden indicated willingness to run against Clinton, and that Biden gave his son’s death as the reason for not running. (To me, it was an interesting contrast to the way Biden ended up dealing with the combination of his political career and his first wife’s and daughter’s deaths years earlier.)

        As for how these other contenders would have fared, I’d have rather seen the floor-wiping than been treated to a Clinton roll-out that seemed to rely on inevitability and a sparser field. I would have preferred the possibilities to have been explored before they were ruled out.

        If I may ask a question on Clinton’s prospects for winning: you aren’t concerned it will be a variation on Coakley’s loss to Brown for that Senate seat?

        • Dan Kennedy

          Clinton has settled into a small but durable lead and should win easily. There are wild cards, of course, the biggest being a major terrorist attack in the US that Trump could somehow exploit even though any rational person would much rather see Clinton in charge during a crisis. This is helpful, too: “While the occasional poll has looked good for Mr. Trump, it has been two months since he led a national survey that included voters without a landline telephone. Mrs. Clinton has led dozens.”

  2. I don’t like the nastiness either, but that kind of party discipline meant that Democrats had at most five or six people running for the nomination, not 17, and that people who didn’t have a chance in a general election were winnowed out quickly. I’ll take it.

    That any American-at-large isn’t disgusted by Putin baffles me. If the Dems *really* want to win, they need to show that Trump is getting help from China or North Korea. Kidding! (Sort of.)

  3. Larz Neilson

    What’s most unsettling to me is that the rules now seem quite fluid, compared to everything we’ve known. Things do change,
    always have, always will. But it seems things are moving very fast in unpredictable ways. Patterns have become chaos.

  4. Carol Ottinger

    The votes are already taken and taken prior to this “report” coming out. Hillary beat Sanders by 4 million votes. This report, if real, had no bearing other than to stir up Bernie supporters.

  5. mike benedict

    This is a gift to Clinton. Putin in bed with Trump. Priceless!

  6. Arist Frangules

    The Russian hack was discovered in June. I’d guess that if the hackers’ priority was to merely cast light upon any injustice done to Sanders, and thus bolster his last-gasp efforts to become the Democratic nominee, the e-mail dump would have taken place then.

    Instead, the e-mail dump comes just before the Democratic convention. So, who does that benefit and what does it say about the Russian hackers’ motivations? Any outraged backer of Bernie Sanders ought to ask those questions.

    Meanwhile, while most reports correctly characterize the information contained in the e-mail dump as simply disparaging toward Sanders, the headline in the New York Observer is “Wikileaks Proves Primary Was Rigged: DNC Undermined Democracy”

    I’m sure this must be a coincidence, but the owner/publisher of the Observer is Jared Kushner. He is otherwise best known as the husband of Ivanka Trump and as a leading figure in the Trump campaign.

  7. Even if Putin was behind the hack, one could argue it’s a preferable and less violent means of political influence compared to military coups and bombings which Clinton has backed in Honduras and Libya. Nevertheless, it’s a brilliant move for the Clinton team/DNC to divert attention away from their election fraud by accusing a third party of meddling by exposing the fraud. The first rule of damage control is to attack the messenger and ignore the message.
    But assuming the Russian government did have hacked information on Hillary Clinton, wouldn’t they therefore want Clinton to achieve presidency so they could manipulate policy decisions through blackmail?

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