Hillary Clinton was obviously the Democratic establishment’s choice for the party’s presidential nomination. But Friday’s release of nearly 20,000 hacked Democratic National Committee emails by WikiLeaks further bolstered Bernie Sanders’ repeated complaints that party insiders “rigged” the game to assure her triumph.
Those emails gave a final push to the forced resignation of DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a five-term U.S. House member from Florida. This controversy also has solidified the hard feelings of many in the party’s left-wing base. And it undermines the Democrats’ attempt to present a united front at this week’s convention in Philadelphia as a positive contrast to the divided ranks of the opposition party.
Last week’s Republican convention in Cleveland re-exposed serious doubts within the GOP about presidential nominee Donald Trump.
And Sen. Sanders himself, during Monday night’s speech to the convention, stressed the Democrats’ overriding common cause for electing Mrs. Clinton president.
Still, the self-billed Vermont socialist won 22 states while giving Mrs. Clinton a spirited challenge for the nomination.
Many disappointed “Feel the Bern” fans were reluctant to rally behind her even before reading those incriminating emails, which fully confirm that the DNC stacked the deck in her favor.
Perhaps the most disturbing revealed email (so far?) came from Brad Marshall, the DNC’s chief financial officer. He wrote in a May 5 missive to DNC communications director Luis Miranda and deputy communications director Mark Paustenbach:
“It might [make] no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.”
Mr. Marshall said he did not recall writing that email, but that if he did, “I can say it would not have been [about] Sanders. It would probably be about a surrogate.”
And that response probably was as dubious as any “spin” effort of this extended presidential campaign season.
Mrs. Clinton already carried an email-mess burden for putting classified communications on a private server while she was Secretary of State.
No, she wasn’t indicted for that. But FBI Director James Comey did condemn that practice as “extremely careless.”
Meanwhile, as if the DNC emails weren’t troubling enough, the FBI is investigating allegations that the Russian government played a role in obtaining and releasing them (see Eli Lake’s column on today’s Commentary page).
That raises this alarming question:
Is Russian President Vladimir Putin trying to influence the outcome of the U.S. presidential election?
Two other obvious questions:
How could leaders at the DNC — or any other organization — ignore the well-established and rising risk that anything they write online could become public knowledge?
And how can Mrs. Clinton and her party get past yet another email scandal?