(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON TIMES)
“She [Clinton] makes decisions based on polls, not principles and is beholden to the special interests in Washington,” a Democratic field-tested survey in the 2008 presidential race said. “If she is elected we will have the same kind of polarized politics that we have had for the past 15 years.”
The sentiment in the memo, which was released in a batch of John Podesta’s emails hacked by WikiLeaks, was the inspiration of one of Barack Obama’s most famous lines that primary season.
“She’ll say anything and change nothing. It’s time to turn the page,” Mr. Obama’s attack-ad said.
Mr. Podesta, who went on to become a counselor to Mr. Obama’s White House, along with Neera Tanden, who served as Mr. Obama’s domestic policy director after he won the nomination that year, still appear to believe this.
After Mrs. Clinton’s email server story broke in March 2015, Mr. Podesta and Ms. Tanden immediately knew who to place the blame on — Mrs. Clinton and her incredibly secretive posse of closest advisers.
“Speaking of transparency, our friends Kendall, Cheryl and Phillipe sure weren’t forthcoming on the facts here,” Mr. Podesta wrote in a March 2015 email, referring to Mrs. Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall and former State Department staffers and Clinton confidants Cheryl Mills and Philippe Reines on her email server set-up.
“Why didn’t they get this stuff out like 18 months ago? So crazy,” Ms. Tanden replied. Then answering her own question, wrote: “I guess I know the answer. They wanted to get away with it.”
Ms. Tanden is the president of the Center for American Progress (CAP), a progressive think-tank that Mr. Podesta helped found and lead before he stepped down in 2011. Ms. Tanden represents the progressive wing of the party and has a close relationship with Mr. Podesta, as they’re both veterans of the Obama and Clinton worlds.
It’s in Ms. Tanden’s emails where the most devastating character blows hit Mrs. Clinton.
“Her [Clinton‘s] instincts are terrible,” Ms. Tanden writes in one exchange. In another, complaining to Mr. Podesta about why Mrs. Clinton said at a rally she was a moderate Democrat rather than a progressive, she wrote: ‘[Clinton] doesn’t seem to know what planet we are all living in at the moment.’”
The only change Mrs. Clinton is promising in her campaign is to move more to the left. In the process of winning the Democratic nomination she adopted many of Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders’ more progressive positions, like the $15 minimum-wage, her stance against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and subsidizing the cost of college education.
Yet, in the leaked emails, some of Mrs. Clinton’s closest aides demonstrate contempt for the more left-wing of the party, calling them “puritanical,” “radical,” “dumb,” and “freaks” who need to “get a life.”
She praises Wall Street and bankers in her paid speeches to them, and has collected more than $1 billion from special interests in this election cycle alone.
Doesn’t sound like Mrs. Clinton is too keen on changing after all.
“This is a jump ball,” Ms. Tanden said, when asked if Mrs. Clinton should make a public statement on political corruption and government reform. “She may be so tainted she’s really vulnerable — if so, maybe a message of I’ve seen how this sausage is made, it needs to stop, I’m going to stop it will actually work. So maybe it requires harder charging.”
Even Colin Powell, who said he was going to vote for Mrs. Clinton this week (not a surprise given he didn’t support previous Republican nominees John McCain or Mitt Romney), thinks she’s anything but a change agent.
“A 70-year person with a long track record, unbridled ambition, greedy, not transformational, with a husband still d—king bimbos at home (according to the NYPD),” wrote Mr. Powell, describing Mrs. Clinton, and a July 26, 2014 email to Democratic donor Jeffrey Leeds.
“Everything HRC touches she kind of screws up with hubris,” Mr. Powell added, according to his emails obtained by the Website DC Leaks.
“Unbridled ambition.” “Tainted.” “Instincts terrible.” “Doesn’t seem to know what planet we are all living in.” “Not transformational.”
With friends like these, who needs enemies? In private, they understand Mrs. Clinton is the very embodiment of the status quo. In public, however, they’re trying to sell the American public a different bag of goods.
• Kelly Riddell is a columnist for The Washington Times.