Hillary: Bubble-wrapped candidate

Chris Stirewalt, 

There are bubbles, and then there is Hillary Clinton’s bubble.

As journalists pore over emails allegedly stolen from Clinton’s top advisor, John Podesta, we get some soundings on just how thick the walls are of the Democratic nominee’s private reality.

Think back to March 2015 when news broke that not only did Clinton conduct government business on a private, unsecured email account as secretary of state, but that that account was actually housed on a secret “homebrew” server at her New York home. 

Worst, Clinton had actually set up the server in advance of her confirmation with the unmistakable intent to avoid prying eyes and federal records laws.

We’ve grown accustomed to these facts, but as the story was breaking it looked like it could be a devastating blow to Clinton, who had still not yet officially announced her second presidential run.

In what is purportedly an exchange between Podesta and another top Clinton adviser, Neera Tanden, the two commiserate about the handling of the server scandal.

A disbelieving Tanden allegedly wrote to Podesta to express her frustration with Cheryl Mills, a legal adviser to Clinton since the days of her husband’s impeachment: “This is a cheryl special. Know you love her, but this stuff is like her Achilles heal. Or kryptonite. she just can’t say no to this sh–. Why didn’t they get this stuff out like 18 months ago? So crazy.”

Podesta wrote back: “Unbelievable.”

“I guess I know the answer,” Tanden responded. “They wanted to get away with it.”

Good advisers are skilled at telling politicians the things they don’t want to hear. In Clinton’s case it was this: you broke the rules, mishandled national security information and are caught. You cannot brush this away. You cannot sidestep.

Because there was no one around Clinton who was apparently willing to tell her that she had to face facts and come clean about her secret server, the problem dragged on and became so much worse for her. 

And it all goes back to that impulse in Clinton World: “They wanted to get away with it.”

The nature of what “it” is has changed over the decades, but at the core, the Clintons’ problems often relate to a desire to cut corners and get their way without paying the price.

election20162_small-2 Hillary: Bubble-wrapped candidate Headlines

The price here would have involved a public embarrassment when archives officials first requested Clinton’s emails. She would have had to say what she did and offer some rationale for it, and something that cut closer to the bone than her laughable lines about “convenience.”

It’s not unreasonable to imagine that Clinton gave away 30 points on favorability and trustworthiness because of her refusal to show even a little contrition and forthrightness.

Republicans know just what we’re talking about here as they watch their nominee close the campaign with a weeks-long fight with women who accuse him of various kinds of misconduct ranging from cruelty to sexual assault. Trump never tried to address the matters in a contrite, earnest way, but has just kept battering.

Presumably he too has found a group of advisers that tell him he’s right even when all available evidence suggests otherwise.

It’s more than a little unseemly to be looking through somebody’s electronic garbage to find private conversations as we are doing with Podesta’s emails. But there are real concerns here.

Politics draws big egos and big egos often prefer to be surrounded by sycophants. The consequences of that conduct in politics can be devastating to campaigns. The consequences in government to such airless cocoons of ego protection can be truly disastrous for the country.

“It has been observed in a former paper, that ‘the true test of a good government is its aptitude and tendency to produce a good administration.’  If the justness of this observation be admitted, the mode of appointing the officers of the United States contained in the foregoing clauses, must, when examined, be allowed to be entitled to particular commendation.”– Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 76

NBC News: “Donald Trump’s campaign is pushing back against a new report that says Trump has all but stopped raising money for the joint fundraising effort with the Republican National Committee, insisting that the campaign is continuing to support the Republican Party. Trump finance chairman Steven Mnuchin told NBC News that the report by The Washington Post was ‘completely misleading’ and that ‘we continue to do fundraising for Trump Victory.’ The Post reported Tuesday evening that the Trump campaign has ‘wound down’ its joint fundraising effort, holding its last major fundraiser Oct. 19 in Las Vegas, and that it would still raise money online. The Post has since changed its headline but kept the contents of the story. The report caused a stir because most of the money raised through Trump Victory goes to help the Republican Party implement an effective ground game and a get-out-the-vote effort and to help candidates down the ballot.”

GOP Senate PAC dumps $25 million towards shoring up races – WSJ: “In an effort to protect the Republicans’ fragile Senate majority, a major GOP super PAC will spend an additional $25 million on behalf of the party’s most vulnerable candidates. The group, Senate Leadership Fund, is putting the investment into six Senate races where Republicans remain competitive in an effort to counter the growing fire power of Democrats, a spokesman confirmed…The fund’s primary investment will be devoted to Nevada, where it plans to spend an additional $7.5 million boosting Rep. Joe Heck, a Republican running for the seat being vacated by outgoing Minority Leader Harry Reid. The race is Republicans’ best hope of picking up a seat, which would complicate Democrats’ path to a majority. It also plans to spend $5 million in Pennsylvania, $4 million in Indiana, and smaller amounts in Missouri, New Hampshire and North Carolina.”

As reports that top Senate Democrats are fighting over whether to continue funding Rep. Patrick Murphy’s efforts to unseat incumbent Republican Sen.Marco Rubio, a new Bloomberg poll shows Rubio with a 10-point advantage. Murphy’s candidacy has been an ongoing debacle for Democrats. This week the embarrassment for Murphy includes ties between his family’s construction company and Donald Trump, which Murphy previously denied. The company’s website boasts “Trump Royale” and “Trump Hollywood” as two of its featured high-rise buildings. And Murphy’s father is even featured in a photo with Trump at the groundbreaking of “Trump Hollywood” in 2007.

That Bloomberg poll also shows Donald Trump ahead by 2-points in the Sunshine State. But even as top Democrats are ready to pull funding from their Senate candidate, Hillary Clinton is going all out in the Sunshine State with a two-day visit to promote early voting, which started Monday.

Trump says he’d fight Biden: ‘I’d love that. Mr. tough guy’ – USA Today

Trump: Hillary’s Syria policy would lead to World War III – Reuters

Bill Bradley PAC goes full mushroom cloud on Trump with Ohio ad – Bloomberg

Kaine says this will be the first time he’s had a female boss if Hillary wins – The Hill

Koch-backed group lays out ObamaCare premium tracker state by state – Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce

What is the precedent for candidate’s refusing to concede? – The Hill

What is an exit poll? How do they work? – Edison Research

What makes IBD’s poll an outlier? – WaPo

“Chris, I assume that Donald Trump is using his money and citizen’s donations to fly across our great country, in his personal aircraft, to various campaign stops. When the Obama’s/Biden campaign for Hillary, are they using their personal money or are the American tax payers picking up the tab?” –Wayne Gadow, Amory, Miss.

[Ed. note: A little of both, Mr. Gadow. When the president or vice president flies for political purposes, they reimburse the federal government for essentially the cost of a first-class plane ticket for their travels and those of others attending the rally or event. This can obviously not begin to defray the cost of flying Air Force One or the cost of securing transit routes and locations. On the other hand, the president doesn’t really have the opportunity to travel without security, a state-of-the-art communications array or key staffers. But even so, when presidents campaign for themselves or for others, taxpayers end up defraying plenty of the costs. The biggest benefit of course, is the symbol of the aircraft itself and the other trappings of presidential power. Those are, quite literally, invaluable.]