The Political Significance of the ‘Clinton emails’
The email controversy that haunted Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation ‘pay for play scandals’ for a number of years all the way to the end of her bid for president will help to keep the executive branch and central government relatively weak once she is president, assuming she makes it as polls indicate. If Clinton top aides lied to the FBI or if they were involved in what the FBI may deem prosecutable offenses, and if congressional Republicans press this issue, then the new administration will be distracted by such scandals.
On the other hand, if the FBI and/or any Republicans were involved in any type of collusion or conspiracy to secure confidential information from the Clinton campaign, that too may be subject to congressional investigation to determine if there are within the FBI and/or Justice Department rogue elements operating outside legal channels. The FBI investigation into Clinton-related email has exposed the bureau as a highly political agency rather than the image it likes to project.
As published, Wikileak emails simply confirm what had been known about the Clintons and the Democratic National Committee, namely, the level of preponderate influence in the Obama government to make sure that Hillary wins the nomination and the election at any cost, including bending the law to the extent they could do it. The hacked emails reveal the well known connection of the Clintons to Wall Street and the awareness of the various players from John Podesta on down that they were at the very least on the edge of legality but certainly operating a heavy-handed campaign with the considerable muscle of billionaires and millionaires behind them.
The Clinton Foundation charity network does some very good work globally. However, to make money for the key players in the Foundation is typical of how the Clintons operate by merging charity and private political and economic interests. It is clear that the Foundation is somewhat of a front for the family to amass personal wealth. People who had looked into the considerable wealth that the Clintons amassed in the last fifteen years did not need Wikileaks to tell them that the family had cleverly merged charity with private interests as a means of becoming multimillionaires.
The Clintons have a well known record as pro-Wall Street politicians while at the same time trying to appeal to the Democratic Party’s working class and middle class base that has been hurt by neoliberal policies they have been supporting since the 1990s. Once in office, she will continue the same neoliberal policies with a firm commitment to strengthening defense and continuing militaristic solutions to political crises around the world. This does not mean that there would be no proposals for development of the infrastructure, reforming the college debt mess currently at $1.3 trillion, refining health care reform including come controls on drug prices, as well as other social programs. As president, Clinton would support a more humane position on immigration, law and order regime that currently target minorities, gender equality, and socio-cultural tolerance. To the extent that congressional Republicans go along, some of these measures will pass.
In a pluralistic society, these are all important but they will have only a marginal impact on living standards that will continue to decline for the working class and the middle class in the next four years. Minimum wage will most definitely go up largely because corporations are raising it. For example, WALMART adopted the wage model of COSTCO and discovered that its sales and productivity rose as a result of raising wages. Along with state-mandated minimum wage laws, corporations will likely continue raising wages even if the federal minimum wage is raised at a slow pace in the next five years as expected. Although a higher minimum wage is imperative as living standards have risen and the US rests so inordinately on consumer spending, the occupant of the White House will take credit for supporting the policy.
Politicians above the Law
Political corruption in the US is not anywhere near many other countries where heads of state enter politics poor and in the process become millionaires or even billionaires. There are strict laws about political corruption, but at the same time the laws provide many windows of opportunity to politicians to profit once they exit from public life while they become peddlers for corporate America as influence peddlers on policy. Public corruption is invariably linked to private sector corruption, although rarely does the media point any fingers at the private sector, focusing instead on the public officials at the receiving end.
Just as big banks and big corporations are too big to fail, so are ‘big politicians’ like Hillary Clinton. Presidents have been impeached, and others removed from office; senators and congressmen stripped of their seats, and governors have served in minimum security facilities. All of them for crimes carried out with the goal of illegally amassing personal wealth, obstruction of justice or some other activity to the detriment of their office. As long as the politician follows the legal path which is very wide and open, it is assumed if not expected that she/he will be rewarded by the system and at some point while protected legally in the process.
Senator Bernie Sanders was right that the Clinton State Department emails controversy as relating to Libya was simply red meat for Republicans; the real crime was her close ties to billionaires and Wall Street. Because of Wikileaks, the world now knows that John Podesta’s multi-million dollar consulting-lobbying firm in Washington works closely with billionaires who define the issues and control the Democratic Party. One could argue that even if Wikileaks had not revealed this hacked email the world already knew enough to reach the exact same conclusion. Besides, aren’t billionaires also behind the Republican Party and out in the open about it? Most people are resigned to this reality and are unlikely to react with much surprise or hostility that Hillary Clinton and powerful politicians are above the law or at least the privileged class treated by a different set of criteria than the average person.
Russia, Wikileaks and Political Distraction
I have no way of knowing if Russia is behind the stolen email controversy and I honestly do not believe it matters. The accusers have never provided evidence to prove their claims and if they ever do, the evidence would have to be carefully scrutinized for authenticity. There are several issues here. First, if Russia is indeed behind Wikileaks, is it because it desperately wanted Trump to win. One would have to assume that the Kremlin knew such interference exposed would in reality help Clinton not Trump. Although Putin has said that he will work with anyone in the White House, he probably preferred authoritarian Trump who would not have continued the military solution option in Syria and would not have pressed as much as Clinton on the issue of sanctions and containment that Obama has been pursuing.
Putin is correct that it is absurd to assume Russia can influence the US election even if it tried. On the contrary, American voters make up their minds on the basis of what goes on inside the country, relying on their historic ties to a political party and how they perceive the candidates would best serve their ideological, socioeconomic and cultural interests. More often than not, the perceived interests and aspirations of voters are based on illusions rather than anything real. An unemployed coal miner in West Virginia parading the confederate flag on the backside of his pickup truck displaying Trump bumper stickers has placed his fate on a 70-year old billionaire playboy who has benefited from corporate welfare and hardly paid any federal income taxes in his life. In their most sinister schemes the people in the Kremlin could not possibly come up with anything to persuade people like this unemployed coal miner to vote one way or another.
However, let us assume that Russia is indeed behind the stolen emails, although they and Julian Assange have denied it. If Moscow is indeed behind all of it, does this absolve the corruption within the Clinton campaign that was wide and deep? Considering that public opinion polls indicate that Hillary Clinton is less trustworthy than Trump, does the public need Moscow to reveal more about the Clintons than people already know for the last three decades? If more people consider Clinton less trustworthy than a man who by any criteria is a neo-Fascist, what does this tell us about the candidate who orchestrated her way to the presidential nomination by manipulating the democratic process, with the media’s voluntary support to crush her opponent Bernie Sanders?
Concealing her candidacy behind so many veils of deception to secure the vote has indeed worked no matter what Wikileaks reveals, largely because the corporate media representing Wall Street wanted to advance her candidacy just as it advanced that of Trump in the primary season. The typical Cold War prism of looking to the evil Russian empire to blame for homegrown problems has its limits. Propaganda is the essence of politics but it also backfires when one cries wolf one too many times and there is no wolf to be found.