Rooting for GOP opposition research on Hillary

hillary-clinton-goldman-sachs-transcript-aIt’s nothing new to say that sometimes Hillary Clinton is her own worst enemy. I’ve been a Bernie supporter, but I really want to enthusiastically support Hillary because (a) she likely will be the Democratic nominee, and (b) all things being equal (or even close to equal), I certainly would prefer to have a woman candidate, and then president.

It’s interesting how Hillary has been involved in so many “cover-ups” beginning with Whitewater in Arkansas, and then Gennifer Flowers (yes, with a ‘G’), an alleged Bill femme fatale in days past. Her modus operandi seems to be to disclose considerable information, but not enough to put people’s concerns to rest. But interestingly enough, none of the alleged scandals, or wrong-doings that have come to light over the past twenty-five years have turned out to be anything close to what the accusers say they are. I imagine that the F.B.I. investigation of her personal mail server, which she used while serving as Secretary of State, will again determine that while her judgments were less than optimal, overall the situation is much ado about nothing.

The transcripts of her three speeches before Goldman-Sachs and other Wall Street firms may not be as insignificant as she would like us to believe. As of now, we know little about them. Politico has reported that during one of the Goldman speeches, “Clinton offered a message that the collected plutocrats found reassuring, according to accounts offered by several attendees, declaring that the banker-bashing so popular within both political parties was unproductive and indeed foolish.”

This tidbit is far from being either conclusive or damning. But as mystery shrouds the contents of her speeches, they are a breeding ground for rumors, and there is little doubt that Donald Trump will use fact or fiction without distinction to try to bring her down.

Like so many, I am very curious about what she said in those speeches. If it’s left up to Hillary, it’s close to a certainty that I will never find out. But The Hill is now reporting that “GOP operatives on the prowl for secret Clinton transcripts.” This is what we call opposition research. I have always disliked such action because it seems to be the engine that drives negativity in politics. But when there is something in the dark that needs to be sanitized by sunlight, then I will grudgingly accept it.

According to The Hill,

Ian Prior, the communications director for the well-funded Republican group American Crossroads, said information about the Goldman Sachs speeches could prove cataclysmic for the Democratic Party.

Finding and releasing the transcripts “would be a heck of a way to outflank Hillary on her left [in a general election] and stop Bernie’s supporters from voting for her,” he said.

American Crossroads is one of those Karl Rove-founded Super-Pacs that excels in raising money (hundreds of millions in the 2012 presidential cycle), and in losing big (a success rate in the single digits). But that doesn’t mean that it can’t hire sleuths to investigate real or imagined transgressions by opponents. The truth doesn’t matter; what counts is arriving at a conclusion that could be embarrassing in the cross-hairs. Consider it to be the 2010s version on the 1970s “plumbers” established by Richard Nixon.

What I’d like American Crossroads to find would be the truth; i.e. an actual transcript of what Hillary Clinton said in those speeches. In a sense, it would be a relief to Hillary Clinton; she would no longer have to stonewall this issue. It’s also quite possible that she wisely hedged her bets when she spoke on Wall Street and said very little to the moguls that would inflame Democrats. If she said more, she could explain it to many by saying that she had to throw out some red meat to the crowd because she was being paid $225,000 a pop for these speeches. Americans could understand that as they accept Trump’s fixation with being wealthy.

But perhaps most importantly, Hillary Clinton could do what so many would like her to do … say that that was then and this is now. In the past, she felt that she had to kowtow to Wall Street go gain their good graces and their political donations. If she becomes the Democratic nominee, that will no longer be necessary, she can try to emulate Bernie Sanders’ small donations strategy once she eschews the big bucks coming from a concentrated and very powerful segment of the American population.

It’s not just a question of changing her ways in order to win the election. With Trump as the likely Republican nominee, she will be the odds-on favorite to win the presidency. But governing with questions unanswered that should be answered will plague her throughout her presidency. In a former life, Clinton was on the staff of the Senate Watergate Committee; she needs now to review her notes from that period. It’s been extremely difficult for Barack Obama to govern without a scintilla of a scandal or cover-up. If Clinton wins the presidency, it well may be nothing but trouble if she even has the appearance of withholding what the public deserves to know. That’s why in this one rare case, I’m rooting for American Crossroads to do Hillary a favor and to find the transcripts.

  • Stacy Mergenthal

    It’s a very practical and reasonable position to take, I never thought of it in this way. I too am curious about the contents of the speeches, but I am more cynical about it. Of course, this is another on a long this of reasons why we need campaign finance reform. Without the need to beg for campaign money, politicians can no longer use it as an excuse for cozying up to moneyed interests. I like the idea of sharing ideas rather than favors. When ideas are exchanged, everyone wins. Favors only benefit the recipient.

    Of course, it would be ideal for those transcripts to leak as soon as possible so that Bernie can win the Democratic nomination and trounce Trump in November. 🙂

  • Willy Kessler

    As for the Goldman Sachs speeches, Kevin Drum points out how easily the usual keynote speech blather can be distorted by those intent on doing damage to Clinton: http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/04/everyone-knows-why-hillary-clinton-wont-release-her-goldman-sachs-speeches. Good reason to withhold them – we all saw how the get-Hillary brigade recently went after an out of context comment about coal mining.

    As for resurrecting nothing burgers like Whitewater, etc., I cannot understand how progressives allow ourselves to be roped into pretending there was ever any there there. There’s scads of evidence that these are trumped up narratives. Same goes for Benghazi and and the widely misunderstood FBI email server investigation.

  • Arthur Lieber

    I think that the best way to minimize distortion is through the light of sunshine. I think that Hillary could explain away most of what she said, because as you said, it was likely blather. By not making them public, it becomes a cesspool of rumor and distortion. I agree that there seems to have been nothing to Whitewater, Benghazi, etc., but that is in part because they have seen the light of day. I understand her trepidation, but she’s losing momentum and something bold might help.

  • Willy Kessler

    I basically agree with you that it’s best to get it all out there – however, I think that the politics of it for Hillary Clinton is lose-lose no matter what she does. I think that she’s chosen to try to minimize the noise. Whether or not that’s the right choice … who knows?

  • Arthur Lieber

    I agree to agree.